Today we announce the launch of a new project, one that I think will be supremely fun to participate in and I am sure even more fun to read about. The Challenge was born out of some serious imbibing one night with the Godfather trying out several different styles of Manhattan’s at one of NYC’s best drinking establishments. What came out of that rye and bourbon induced haze was the idea of selecting several different places to compete in a “March Madness” style bracket competition to find the bar (or lounge, den of spirits, place of goodness, … etc) that makes the best Manhattan in Manhattan (okay smarty pants, we know that Brooklyn, as you’ll see later, isn’t in Manhattan).
We ended up concluding – slight pause here to give thanks to the Boss and the Rave for their nurturing comments including the “can’t let you two drunkies get together anymore” for the encouragement it provided to persevere – that our original grand plan was a little too grand; 30+ places, multiple rounds of drink types, should we try to synch up with bloggers outside of Manhattan etc. A key focus from the get-go was including diverse types of drinking establishments and in scaling things back (from the “grand plan”) we have attempted to hold to this idea. Thus, we have selected two places from each of four broad types of establishments for a total of eight participants as follows:
“Craft-Style” Bars: The Clover Club and Death & Co.
Hotel Bars: King Cole Bar (at the St. Regis Hotel) and The Star Lounge (the lobby bar at the Ritz-Carlton, Central Park)
Restaurant Bars (bars inside a restaurant): Eleven Madison Park and the Strip House
Cocktail Bars: The Campbell Apartment and The Summit Bar
So why these eight places and these categories? Frankly there are so many places in Manhattan to select that it is almost impossible to conduct this challenge without a little structure and without an effort made to shorten the list. Depending upon how successful we are at this effort we could very well have further rounds of challenges bringing in more new participants.
The ultimate goal – try to find the best Manhattan in Manhattan.
Rules for the Challenge:
- The Contestants and Groupings: see the bracket for the groupings which will be updated after each of the rounds is completed.
- The Rounds: the challenge will comprise three different rounds with the winners of each grouping advancing on to the next round. Each round will focus solely on participants making a Manhattan cocktail (no other drinks will be evaluated).
- The Manhattan Cocktail: each participant, in every round, will be judged based on their preparation of a Manhattan. If a “Manhattan” cocktail, in any form, is on the current drink menu of a given contestant then that drink will be ordered by all of the judges and judged. The thought process here is that if a venue/participant feels so strongly about their ability to serve an “ideal” Manhattan to their patrons that they highlight on their menu then that should be selected for this challenge (regardless of spirit type).
If a Manhattan cocktail is not on the current drink menu then the judges will simply ask for a Manhattan; it will be bartenders choice as to how to make (the judges may not specify anything additional about the drink).
- Scoring: 10 points can be awarded per judge, per contestant in each round based on the drink presented to them. Judges may consider such factors as the overall taste of the drink, the composition of the drink, appearance, aroma, etc.
- Timing: we anticipate conducting Round #1 over two weeks, Round #2 over a single week and the Finals over a week.
- Additional Rules:
- Judges: each contestant will be judged by three judges so as to try to avoid any ties. Each judge will only try the specified number of drinks per round, score and then move on to the next place.
- The winner for a particular round will be the contestant with the highest total score. In the unlikely event of a tie, those two participants will be re-visited on a new night and judged all over again.
One final thought — Are there other places out there that may make as good a drink as the one’s we are trying in this challenge? I bet there are. We fully admit up front that due to certain obvious constraints we cannot try out every place in Manhattan. This is only but a first step. Let us know your thoughts as to our line up, other potential spots to try in future challenges and views on future challenges?
Good luck to all the participants. We are looking forward to tasting your wares and having fun throughout the process.