“Never allow limited resources to limit your imagination. Bite off more than you can chew. Then grow fangs.”
This article originally appeared at Jack From Brooklyn.
The Manhattan Cocktail Classic is–without exaggeration or hyperbole–the world’s most extravagant cocktail party. For five days–and nights–ten thousand of the world’s most influential liquor writers, mixologists, and spirits enthusiasts gather. They compare notes and drinks at the over one hundred events spread across the city, consuming libations of such quality (and quantity) as to make Dionysus himself need a nap, and a cookie.
When we first enjoyed a drink and a conversation with the event’s charismatic founder, Lesley Townsend, way back in November of 2011, it was with the modest hope of establishing a rapport. We poured, we talked, we laughed. It was clear we were dealing with a visionary, but we received absolute confirmation of this fact the very next day, when Lesley emailed to follow-up to our conversation. Here is what it said, in part:
“What if Sorel came in and actually owned the Official Bar at the Andaz for one of the four days? Everyone’s expecting the big behemoth brands to do that sort of thing – but why *not* Sorel? What if we made this a whole day celebrating Brooklyn at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic? How fabulous would that be? As the hosts of the day, this would mean that hundreds upon hundreds of bartenders, buyers, media, and generally influential sorts of people would be sipping on Sorel all day long. I kind of love this.
I’m probably getting way too excited, and it’s probably not in your budget – but I’m secretly hoping that you’ll decide to just dive in head first and make a huge splash at the 2012 Classic. I would *love* nothing more than to see a small, BK-based start-up brand come in and steal the show. It would make me happy on a very personal level.”
It was genius. And it was way, way over our heads.
From a financial and logistical standpoint, this wasn’t just overly-ambitious, it was impossible. We didn’t have the resources. We didn’t have the time. We’d never thrown an event of any kind, much less been center-stage at the world’s largest cocktail party.
So of course, we said yes.
Sorel made its official debut to the world on Monday, May 14th, at the main bar of the Andaz Hotel. In an event themed “Unity Makes Strength” we were proud to host the first ever “Brooklyn Day” at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. Produced by Emily Cavalier of the infamous Midnight Brunch–and with a cocktail menu created by the ineffable Michael P. Dulle, GM of The JakeWalk–a bevy of Brooklyn’s finest artisanal food purveyors banded together, to create what was singularly the most memorable event of The Classic. Participating vendors included:
While the events of the days leading up to the Classic may never be declassified, our participation in both the Opening Gala and Brooklyn Day were life-altering experiences. We forged lasting friendships, fomented the spirit of community.
The photos from this fabulous event–taken by Adam Klimaszweski–can be viewed on Facebook here, here, here and here. You’ll need to friend us on Facebook to view them. The unmitigated success of the event–against all odds and in the face of all adversity–is a testament to just how much you can accomplish when a visionary like Lesley believes in you–and you believe in yourself.
Our advice based on this experience? Never allow limited resources to limit your imagination. Bite off more than you can chew. Then grow fangs.
Photo by Shutterstock.