The Manhattan Cocktail Classic Opening Gala is a fashion heaven, where fashionable ladies and gents come out to play, dance, eat, and drink, to all hours of the night in the historic New York Public Library.

Spanning four floors, two city blocks, and over ten million cubic feet of space, the Gala expands over the sprawling main branch of The New York Public Library, filling the mammoth hallways and cavernous arches with music, dancing, merriment, mischief, wild performances, scandalous art, nibbles, noshes, chaos, curiosities, and infinite twists, turns, and general sensory excess.

Kristen Colapinto-Manhattan Cocktail Classic_Group

2011 Manhattan Cocktail Classic

Friday night, I had the pleasure of attending this exceptional gala and was beyond impressed by the elaborate decor, music, fashion, food and of course – the selection of fabulous cocktails!

This year was the second year that the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Opening Gala took place and tickets to this spectacular evening sold out almost immediately!

An estimated 3,000 cocktail connoisseurs and smartly-dressed party aficionados filled the marble corridors of the iconic New York City landmark – drinking, dancing and making merry at one of the city’s most talked about events of the year.

Read More About The Manhattan Cocktail Classic Opening Gala After The Jump…

Around every corner, and in every room, some of the world’s greatest mixologists created over 40,000 handcrafted cocktails, accompanied by live musical performances, interactive art installations and hors d’oeuvres.

Upon entering the grand pillared lobby, guests were greeted by a 12 piece orchestra. In another room, acrobatic trapeze artists swung from the ceiling, while in another room artists created fresh masterpieces while onlookers sipped their drinks and nibbled on hors d’oeuvres including fresh oysters, gourmet pickles, and desserts including chili chocolate ice-cream and mini caramel covered apples!

Steve's Ice-cream

Steve's Ice-cream

One of the evening’s highlights was Campari’s Negroni bar where star mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim stirred up definitive versions of the classic Negroni, authentically made with Campari, gin and sweet vermouth in equal parts.

This year being the “Year of the Negroni”, I was excited both to meet Tony and even get a lesson on creating the drink famous first in Italy and now here in America!

(Read more about Campari, the Negroni and get cocktail recipes here)

Kristen Colapinto and Tony the Mixologist

Me and Tony the Mixologist!

Not only was Campari’s Negroni a huge hit among the gala’s fashionable attendees, but also Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi.  Padma Lakshmi, who is a huge fan of the enchanting cocktail, declared her preference for the Negroni to a standing-room only crowd at one of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic‘s marquee events, Campari’s “Year of the Negroni” soiree.

Padma lakshmi Newgroni

Padma Lakshmi and Tony The Mixologist Toast to the 'Year of the Negroni'!

About the Manhattan Cocktail Classic:

Part festival, part fête, part conference, part cocktail party – the Manhattan Cocktail Classic is an annual celebration of the myriad points of intersection between cocktails and culture. With over one hundred events spread across five days and five boroughs, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic offers a vast array of unique experiences to enthusiasts and professionals alike, expanding the very definition of what constitutes a “cocktail event”.