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[Photographs: Laren Spirer]

This past weekend was the preview for the newly-minted Manhattan Cocktail Classic, which, according to Founder/Director Lesley Townsend is "part festival, part fĂȘte, part conference, part cocktail party." If the preview is a hint at what's to come, New York is going to see one hell of an event during World Cocktail Week, May 14-18, 2010.

Saturday and Sunday were filled with seminars from experts around the country with topics such as learning about the history of the cocktail in New York from David Wondrich, getting home cocktail-making tips from Sasha Petraske, and exploring unique barware with Greg Boehm, Alex Day, and Don Lee, as well as an intimate insider's look behind the bar at New York's greatest cocktail establishments: Pegu Club, PDT, Bill's Gay Nineties and more.

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In between the seminars, the recently opened bar at the Astor Center served as home base to cocktail enthusiasts, members of the beverage trade and media, and some of the country's best bartending talent, with a different New York-centric cocktail list each day.

The grand finale of the weekend was the gala—an elegant, glorious, and magnificent party at the historic New York Public Library, filled with decadent food including local oysters, suckling pigs, and nibbles from Russ and Daughters and Stinky Bklyn, lively music from Vince Giordano's Nighthawks, and, of course, cocktails galore, created and served by masters from around the world.

Mark your calendars for May 14-18, 2010 folks, but consider booking yourself some time at the spa afterward. You'll need it.

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