Food & Drink

Montenegro Nights: A Curious Affair

Looking Back on an Evening of Extravagance With UrbanDaddy and a Particularly Complex Spirit

By Thompson Brandes ·

On an otherwise ordinary fall night, a few hundred lucky souls descended upon the rooftop of the Gramercy Park Hotel to gather around a distinct blend of 40 botanicals and a mysterious spirit. Which might sound odd until you realize that the eclectic collection belonged to Montenegro.

Montenegro, the spirit in question and Italy's most sought-after amaro, is on a most noble mission to bring its curiously complex flavor to the U.S. cocktail scene. We know this because a dashing mixologist told us so at a Montenegro Nights event, one of several epic parties hosted from coast to coast in partnership with UrbanDaddy.

The main focus was to bring to life the story of Montenegro's founder, Stanislao Cobianchi, the spirit’s irreverent architect. But as we quickly found out, one can learn many fascinating things about the particularly versatile Montenegro by simply... having a lot of fun with it.


Here's what we learned and what transpired in the hours that followed...

Montenegro is an Italian herbal liqueur that's commonly enjoyed as an after-dinner digestif, but should not necessarily be labeled as such.
A favorite among mixologists, Montenegro can be savored neat or breathe new life into classic cocktails.  Create a new spin on a Moscow Mule by swapping vodka with Montenegro, or add Montenegro to gin and sweet vermouth to create—you guessed it—a Montenegroni.  

Accenting Montenegro with specific smells and tastes can arouse new flavor profiles entirely.
The event's Sensory Bar encouraged us to dive deeper into the spirit itself. It was there where a trusty barkeep lit a stick of cinnamon on fire in front of our noses, allowing the aroma of cinnamon smoke to completely alter the contents of our glasses for the better. (Not a bad first date trick, either.)

If you've ever wanted to star in your own miniature music video, the 18th century still life video photo booth was an opportunity of a lifetime. 
The indulgent scene positioned guests and their Monte cocktails alongside some of Italy’s other most revered classics. A few people also used this as an opportunity to film themselves sans clothing. Hey, to each their own artistic visions.

A live tattoo parlor allowed guests to brand themselves with a variety of designs focused around the liqueur.
True story. A man took one sip of his Montenegroni before heading straight to the tattoo parlor, where he subsequently had two bottles of Montenegro tattooed on his palms.

An impromptu confessional booth invited guests to pay homage to the irreverent life of founder Stanislao Cobianchi, a man who defied his parents’ call for an ecclesiastical career to instead travel the world.
Guests shared their deepest, darkest secrets in exchange for a special cocktail in this admittedly cool-looking confessional. We chose to hang back at the Sensory Bar, where our secrets were surely safe with the mixologist who could flambé an orange with a flick of his wrist.

Needless to say, it was the perfect night.

Thompson Brandes

Thompson Brandes is getting sucked into another Jurassic Park movie on AMC right now.

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