A Classic Returns to New York City on wsj.com


After a three-year hiatus, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic is returning in the spring of 2017

The event, founded in 2009, became one of the annual highlights of the New York dining and drinking calendar, attracting as many as 8,000 attendees for a series of parties and other events, topped by a boozy gala at the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue.

After 2014, the festival, created by spirits-industry professional Lesley Townsend Duval, was sold to another promoter, J.D. Albano, according to Ms. Duval.

A 2015 festival was planned but later canceled. Mr. Albano couldn’t be reached for comment.

Now, a new group of investors and organizers, headed by James Moreland, another spirits-industry veteran, has taken ownership of the event for an undisclosed sum, Mr. Moreland said. The festival is scheduled to return May 12, running until May 18, according to the group.

Mr. Moreland said the new Manhattan Cocktail Classic will continue its partying ways but will add a bigger trade component, connecting spirits brands with bar and restaurant professionals. The budget for the 2017 event will be in the seven figures, Mr. Moreland added, with about 80 to 100 spirits brands represented.

While the festival had long competed with Tales of the Cocktail, a New Orleans event for the bar and spirits industry, Mr. Moreland said he believes it can hold its own because of New York’s importance in the cocktail world.

“This is where all the trends start,” he said.

Art Sutley, publisher of Bar Business Magazine, a New York-based trade journal that has signed on to be a sponsor of the relaunched Manhattan Cocktail Classic, echoed that view.

“We need to have something here,” Mr. Sutley said.


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