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Manhattan Cocktail Classic canceled for a third year in a row

2017 was to be the bartending event's triumphant return after taking a two-year hiatus, but the Manhattan Cocktail Classic has run into problems again.
This photo has taken on a whole new meaning. Credit: Manhattan Cocktail Classic, Facebook
This photo has taken on a whole new meaning. Credit: Manhattan Cocktail Classic, Facebook

Not even Bill Murray could save the Manhattan Cocktail Classic.

Once a must-do event on New York’s cocktail calendar, organizers announced the event will not go on just one day before its opening gala:

“We are contacting you to let you know that due to circumstances beyond our control, we regretfully have to suspend the Manhattan Cocktail Classic and all of the events associated with it,” they wrote in an email to attendees.

“We deeply apologize for any inconvenience this causes you, and we want to thank you very much for your eagerness to participate in this great Festival. The management of this Festival believes that the Manhattan Cocktail Classic is an exciting and essential part of NYC, and it is our intention to reschedule the events in the near future. In closing, we again want to apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your faith and support of the MCC.”

This is a bit of deja vu for the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, which was last held in 2014. New management took over in 2015 led by experienced event producer Michael Blatter, but that year’s sold-out opening gala was also canceled (though some of its other events still went on) because “the event had a late start, resulting in many brands not being able to participate.” Then, in 2016, another last-minute cancellation.

It's particularly puzzling given the growth in interest in craft spirits and the boom in distilleries statewide as regulations — including moving up the start time of Sunday’s bottomless brunch mimosas to 8 a.m. — have made it easier to make and sell more spirits than ever. So what gives? We’ve reached out to the organizers for more information.

Thursday’s black tie party at Central Park’s Loeb Boathouse would’ve been Murray’s second stint behind the bar, kicking off an entire week of drink-themed events around the city like bartender panels, a Mother’s Day garden party, a mocktail tasting and more.

But there were signs of trouble before today. The only MCC event with an actual date and location was A Decadent Afternoon of Chocolate, BBQ & Cocktails, which would’ve been held on Saturday, May 13 at the Highline Ballroom. That event will go on as scheduled, according to the venue.

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic started in 2009, and at its height 8,000 people attended its events. The last time the Manhattan Cocktail Classic was held was in 2014, when about 3,000 people crowded the halls of the New York Public Library for a lavish evening where bartenders poured over 25,000 cocktails, according to Gothamist.

Then again, if they couldn’t put on the event they wanted, at least they didn’t try anyway.