The Manhattan Cocktail Classic is Under New Management. Meet the Man Behind The Booziest Fest in Town.

Update! It looks as though this year’s Manhattan Cocktail Classic 2015 is cancelled.

manhattan cocktail classic
Courtesy Manhattan Cocktail Classic

It’s now that most heavenly (and fleeting) time of year again. With New York finally thawing to a survivable temp, the daylight hours stretching into the evening, and the perfumed air of blossoming flowers and trees accompanying our daily walks to the subway, it feels like New York City is in the throes of a full-on springtime celebration. It is truly happy making. Another sign that winter is behind us and we are allowed to set fire to those puffy coats and ratchet looking snow boots? The return of New York’s Boozith Fair, Gotham’s Cocktailapalooza, the City’s Boozeachella…I’m talking about The Manhattan Cocktail Classic, you guyssss! It is back! And it’s a pretty big deal. It is also pretty happy making.

manhattan cocktail classic2
Courtesy Manhattan Cocktail Classic

While we are almost exactly a month away, this year’s MCC runs from May 16-19, tickets have been getting scooped up for a few weeks now…

Part annual cocktail convention, part gigantic, city-wide cocktail party, it is a fully comprehensive peek into the current and exciting spirits industry. If you are someone involved in the booze biz in any way or if you’re just a New Yorker who appreciates a well made cocktail, you have most likely taken part in this enormous industry event that includes distillery tours, spirits tastings, seminars and panels, and even drinks specials throughout the city! It’s a marvelous time of year. But the most exciting, glamorous, and most inclusive event that isn’t dominated by industry people, would be MCC’s Opening Night Gala. This black tie extravaganza, the ultimate cocktail party, welcomes upwards of 3,000 people all dressed to the nines and surrounded by just about any tipple that their heart’s desire.

manhattan cocktail classic3
Courtesy Manhattan Cocktail Classic

In its 6th year, the MCC is under new management and they have bigger and boozier plans than ever. The most notable change is that they have moved the Gala taking place this year on Saturday, May 16th from the Great Hall at the New York Public Library to the iconic and newly renovated Cipriani Wall Street.

Courtesy Manhattan Cocktail Classic

Cocktail Classic Productions LLC, the organization that has taken the reigns of MCC this year, is led by CEO and visionary Michael Blatter. He is the driving force behind this year’s event and the future of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. I recently had the chance to interview Michael about his vision for the MCC and the changes to come. Read it! Get your tix! And then get excited to go to this four-day festival celebrating all things cocktail!

Michael Blatter
Courtesy Manhattan Cocktail Classic

Given your background, the Manhattan Cocktail classic, especially the opening night gala event, seems like the perfect fit. Had you attended MCC in the past? And was there anything that stood out that you knew that you wanted to keep or change?

I have been creating large-scale events for decades, including many for spirits clients, and worked in nightlife and hospitality for numerous years. I was very familiar with the MCC and a long-time fan and I also enjoy a cocktail or two. When the opportunity came to take the reins, I jumped at the chance. It was a natural fit. I’m looking forward to leveraging my expertise in consumer engagement to make this edition the best one ever. My intention is to build upon the integrity and excitement of the MCC to date and, ultimately, I want to ramp up to take the MCC to other U.S. cities and eventually abroad.

What do you think the biggest advantage is in changing the venue for the opening night gala this year from the New York Public Library to the newly renovated Cipriani Wall Street? Do you think will be you’ll be attracting a different audience?

There are several advantages to Cipriani Wall Street. First, it is downtown, where the city’s past and future are coming together. There are many new projects in motion downtown and we wanted to be a part of its energy. Second, we chose Cipriani Wall Street for the Gala because it is a magnificent and iconic Greek Revival structure. The Grand Ballroom has a vast dome and we’ve obtained rare access to its secret subterranean club that includes a screening room, barbershop and billiards room, as well as large vaults from when it was a bank. We expect a lot of MCC regulars, since the festival has become an annual tradition for so many people. That said, we also hope to attract new cocktail fans to attend and become future regulars.

What do you think will be the biggest difference in the MCC with the change in management?

The biggest difference with the MCC’s change in management is the organization’s evolution into a full-scale production company with plans to host a variety of cocktail events in New York and around the country. I’m backed by a team of comprised of MCC veterans, seasoned cocktail experts, spirits industry luminaries and event professionals who are committed to building on the festival’s integrity and enriching the experience for both consumers, as well as partners within and beyond the wider hospitality sector.

You seem to already have established relationships with many of the brands represented at the gala. Are there any new guys that you’re bringing in? Any particular spirits brands/venues/cocktail personalities that you’re especially excited to work with?

Every brand brings something unique to the MCC and we’re excited to work with all of them. We are working with brands of every size, both festival veterans, as well as newcomers. We want to build on existing relationships and widen the field to create new ones.

What have you found to be the biggest challenge so far since taking over the reigns of MCC?

The biggest challenge so far since taking over the reins has been the timing. There are a lot of moving pieces to coordinate, but given my decades of event experience, I’m totally in my element and I have the exact team in place to execute everything smoothly.

What are you looking most forward to in May?

In May, I’m looking forward to staging a spectacular and truly memorable MCC and to attendees and brands saying that this one was the best MCC ever.

2 Comments on The Manhattan Cocktail Classic is Under New Management. Meet the Man Behind The Booziest Fest in Town.

  1. Drinker
    May 1, 2015 at 9:18 am (3 years ago)

    Based upon last year’s MMC gala it’s no surprise it isn’t happening this year. We attended all galas (except the first), even went so far as to pay extra to get in early, but the vibe was so different last year we left well before the end (other years we were literally some of the last to leave). Even before it was cancelled we had decided we would not be attending this year based upon last.

    Reply
    • Prairie Rose
      May 2, 2015 at 11:23 am (3 years ago)

      I had heard about others having this sort of experience last year. I’ve, sadly, never attended the gala but was hoping to this year! Here’s hoping it returns to its roots next year!

      Reply

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