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NY Cocktail Expo Showcases Hospitality, Craft Spirits, Award Winning Bars

Updated: Dec 27, 2018

Cocktail Program Manager, Mike Di Tota at The Bonnie, Astoria

On Sunday, March 12th, 2017 a sold out crowd of over 600 attendees flocked to the NY Cocktail Expo Queens held at the great Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria. The expo brought a light into the world of cocktails and spirits illuminating the cocktail boom of Queens, New York and its focus on excellent hospitality tied together with the parallel boom of craft spirits. The affair was filled with tastings of spirits, outstanding cocktail tastings from top bars in the area and a fun vibe guests won’t soon forget. At the end of the day, it’s that vibe and feeling guests will want to return to and ultimately that was the take home of the experience. It was a coming together for not just cocktail and spirit enthusiasts but a place where bartenders and cocktail program managers come to get inspiration, network, taste new spirits and see what products are on the market to get their creative wheels turning.

The fast rising event featured the best cocktail throw down on stage in the second session. Bars made their cocktails, challenged with using the official list of spirits to present their drinks to the Judges with a 5-minute time limit to prepare and present their offerings. They were awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd place Best Cocktail, based on hospitality, technique, appearance, flavor and innovation by the panel of NY Cocktail Official Judges including Eamon Rockey, (Betony, Aska, Atera), Will Elliot (Maison Premiere/Sauvage) and Betsy Fischman ( Taking home 1st place was Bar Program Manager of the Bonnie, Mike Di Tota for his cocktail the “Morrocan Rose” made with Queens Courage Old Tom Gin. The 2nd Place title was awarded to Cocktail Program Manager, Dan Zakarija of Mar’s for his drink the “Tupelo Honey” made with Kas Krupnikas, Wyoming Whiskey and a chamomile foam made with chamomile flower infused with Dolin Blanc from Haus Alpenz. The 3rd place honor was awarded to Cocktail Program Manager & Bartender Paddy O’Brien of The Last Word, utilizing Gracias Adios Mezcal for his craft cocktail presentation.

“The Expo really brought the bartending community closer together. Events like this give us a chance to develop deeper relationships with one another, which in turn helps us all become a stronger presence in New York City as a whole.  We feel like a family. And we were so proud to represent our borough, and to present our cocktail to such esteemed judges.” - Mike Di Tota, also known as the Botanical Bartender.
Zakarija of Mar’s said of the EXPO, “It’s always a pleasure seeing my fellow neighborhood bartenders/friends bring their best to such a wonderful event. The sense of community and building a warm environment to foster that, is what we pride ourselves on. The incredible showing from the neighborhood and truly overwhelming show of support proves we’re on the right path. We look forward to maintaining that level of hospitality to everyone that sets foot into Mar’s”.
“At a time when spirits events and festivals are in every city, the upstart NY Cocktail Expo - Queens is a reminder of the importance of community and collaboration amidst curation, sponsorship and competition. This borough, for all of its talent and resources still brings the true spirit of hospitality and collaboration; this could not have been more evident than at Sunday’s EXPO, and is undoubtedly a reflection of the founder, Matt Kourie’s, sentiments on inclusively cultivating talent and knowledge in the bar world.  Great people, spirits, music and energy define this gathering; I look forward to showing my support in the years to come.” - Eamon Rockey, Executive Judge of The NY Cocktail Expo, veteran of Betony, Aska and Atera.

Guests were welcomed by the Official Cocktail of The NY Cocktail Expo Queens, “Monkey Shoulder Jam Sour.” This put a smile on their faces as they entered the cocktail and spirit tasting adventure making a lasting and memorable impression with its delightful flavor. Fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, berry preserves and bitters make up this fantastic cocktail with a citrus aroma garnished with an orange peel.

Monkey Jam Sour Video by Monkey Shoulder

Distilleries are looking to the NY Cocktail Expo to showcase their products in a meaningful way in collaboration with bars to exhibit them in their realized form, the cocktail. However, the palate was inspired and guests were enlightened to taste the spirits and get a feel for what quality and variety is about. Social media blew up with excited guests of the expo using its official hashtag #nyceq and #nycocktailexpo . Scroll through below and get a taste of the adventure. The journey continues on May 7th, 2017 as the 3rd NY Cocktail Expo returns to the booming cocktail scene on Long Island at Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall in Wantagh, NY. Every borough can come to enjoy, network and sip away as local transit, LIRR is directly across the street from the venue.... And we are so there. Cheers!

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“As a home bartender it was exciting to see side by side how each bar worked differently and favored different ingredients. The need for the NY Cocktail Expo every year is a forum where patrons and bars can come together under one roof and build relationships as a community. The speakeasy room had that Coole Swan Irish Cream that I really liked and the Catoctin Creek rye was pretty great too.” - Home Bartender, Peter Roccaforte

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