When Yelp reaches out to ask you to attend an event, it goes without saying that you tell them you'll be there. When they add that it's their annual Yelp's Cocktail Classic, you pinch yourself and then you tell them you'll be there. Who passes up on unlimited cocktails from a ton of Long Island bars and restaurants?
Walking down the cobblestone path toward the Vanderbilt Planetarium, my first thought was that not wearing heels was an excellent idea. Falling before drinking is even more disgraceful than falling after drinking. Let's face it, if you fall after drinking at least there's a chance you won't remember - or care.
Seeing the line of people suddenly get the greenlight to enter the event looked something like a tidal wave. I can only imagine what it looked like to those waiting on the other side. The servers and mixologists were swarmed, and, like a silent start gun sounded, they set to work in a fury of cocktail magic.
Mixologists produced drink after drink with ice and garnishes without batting an eye. The pace that they maintained for over two hours resembled some kind of test of endurance that I would have failed in minutes. Guests were asking questions, making requests and throwing in small talk, and these bartenders just kept it moving. Yeah, I get that bartenders are accustomed to a busy Friday night, but you don't know what this looked like. At least at a bar you get the occasional "I'll take a beer." Bottom-line: I see you, mixologists, and I appreciate you.
Now, on to the my Top 5 Finds of the night:
1.) The winner of Most Creative Cocktail as determined by those in attendance: The Rust & Gold's beautifully crafted cocktail featuring Hendrick's gin, dill, pineapple, lemon verbena, melon and fresh basil.
The organic presentation is the perfect setup for the fresh, crisp, refreshing drink that follows. This drink's debut was a definite crowd pleaser.
2.) Garden City Hotel's classic and invigorating Cucumber Southside.
Muddled mint, Hendrick's gin, cucumber, lemon juice, and simple syrup receive a hard shaking before being poured over ice.
3.) The popular Ultimate Classic Mojito from Havana Central.
Don't think for a second that this is just any other mojito. This rum concoction comes with sprigs of mint and a strip of sugar cane for a sweet finish. One sip and you'll know that this is no ordinary drink.
4.) The gluten, dairy, grain, soy, corn, yeast, peanut and egg free Banana Cupcake from Jenni Cakes.
This organic, vegan cupcake is a powerhouse of decadent moisture and flavor.
5.) Liege Waffle Co's phenomenal flight of waffles.
With names like Peanut Butter Dream, Cannoli Toast Crunch, Bananella, Roy G. Biv, Unicone Shad O's, and Fluffy Unicone, these fun, inventive and tasty creations are a treat for your eyes and your tastebuds.
No matter how you slice it, every restaurant, vendor and bar that participated in the Yelp Cocktail Classic served up a boatload of great faire. I left full, happy and looking forward to next year's soiree. Cheers!