Invite two dating bloggers to a mixology master class and they may spend more time talking about the cute bartender than the cocktails. Especially if he has a British accent. Seriously, you expected us to not be distracted?
Honestly, there were many distractions in the rooftop bar of Times Square’s newest hotel, citizenM. citizenM opened its doors on 50th and Broadway in April. This brand spanking new hotel designed itself around the elements that make NYC iconic: swanky, cool, progressive, fashion forward, art-centered. The result is just as good as all that sounds.
When I got the invite to a blogger exclusive event at citizenM’s Cloud Bar, of course I jumped at the chance. Rachel from Witty Banter happily agreed to be my plus one. This is how we found ourselves on green leather couches, beneath hanging lantern lights, overseen by a friendly moose head mounted on the wall. The whimsical decor throughout the bar instantly put me in a light-hearted mood. As if that wasn’t enough, there was also the view.
Like I said, so many distractions. Rooftop bars are one of my favorite destinations in Manhattan. 21 and over access to great views and a different perspective of the concrete jungle. What a classroom for a cocktail class! How was I ever going to pay attention while surrounded by the city, with decorative surprises in every corner (my favorite was a statue of a gnome flipping off the bar, it was very subtle), and the lilting voice of our instructor?
When Mark, our mixology expert, handed us a drink the answer to this question was immediately apparent. I’d never tasted anything like it, nor seen anything like the star-shaped garnish, but damn what a great drink. Light and refreshing, with a subtle spice that just hinted at fall, if this was what we were being schooled in I suddenly dying to learn more.
A Cardamom and Chamomile it was. Rather complex for beginner mixologists. Mark kept us to the basics- rickies, collins, and daiquiris- while intermittently showing off his master mixology skill. These three drinks are the basis for most everything else, with crucial ratios of alcohol, sweet, and acid. We learned that margaritas are the best selling drink in the country because they stimulate every part of the tongue.
Everyone got a chance to get behind the bar to try their hand at mixing a drink, using industry tools with funny names like “jigger”. Did you know drinks have different textures? This was something I’d never thought of before. Shaking verses stirring completely changes the texture of a drink. Mark adjusted my shaking technique as I attempted to make a margarita on the rocks. “Shake it awake,” he instructed, “Don’t rock it to sleep.” I vigorously shook the canister up and down. “Don’t worry,” Mark assured us, “It’s pretty much impossible for anyone to look cool while shaking these things.”
Then he pulled out the big guns. To a room full of female bloggers he asked, “Do you all like pumpkin spice?” Yes, Mark, oh course we do #NewYorkCliche. He then proceeded to make the tastiest alcoholic beverage I’ve ever laid my mouth on. A “Cider House Rules” it is called. Hot mulled whiskey and apple juice, pumpkin spice, lime for acid, and bitters for depth. It is topped with cold heavy cream and sprinkled with nutmeg. The contrast of hot and cold, sweet, spice, and bitter, this drink is amazing. It rules. If you think Starbucks has it good, you must go to Cloud Bar and try this drink because it will blow your mind!
Against all the odds, all the distractions, the cocktails of this master class to center stage. I was truly impressed. For those of you how are always looking for a chance to visit NYC, you now how one less reason not to. citizenM is an amazing place to stay and it’s even affordable. Obviously everyone needs to check out Cloud Bar, what a delightful space- not so easy to find in the Times Square area!