Roughly 3,000 dipsomaniacs streamed into the New York Public Library's 42nd Street location on Friday night, turning the city's School of Athens into a towering megaplex of intoxication, a black tie'd Pleasure Island. The state's executive officer approved: “The Manhattan Cocktail Classic is one of the spirit industry’s premier events," Governor Cuomo said in a release that carried the word "spirit" nine times and the word "liquor" zero. "And with the State’s support, 34 of New York’s finest distilleries are taking center stage at the Classic’s opening gala."

Those 34 distilleries are just part of the 87 located in the state, an increase of 200% since 2011 ("New York now has more distilleries than any state east of the Mississippi River."), fueled by the city's relentless bar and restaurant scene and millions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives.

The sheer number of mixed drinks at Friday's gala (more than 25,000 were poured) and the eager throngs who sniffed, swizzled, sipped, wafted, tilted, quaffed, and lapped up the stuff seemed conclusive: New York has a serious cocktail fetish.

This didn't mean that all the drinks were serious. Plumes of "smoke" (dry ice?) streamed out of tiny, fruit-punch looking concoctions that resembled beach week mistakes. Three drinks we sampled contained rosemary springs, the leaves of which inevitably slid down into our mouths and twitched like those fortune-telling magic fish (though one of those cocktails was indeed tasty and balanced).

Yet the point is to provide something for everyone, and in that respect the gala delivers. For instance, I am a sucker for Ramazzotti and rye (Not together, pervert.), and there were plenty of variations on those basic spirits. Also, cotton candy.

Alcohol is supposed to loosen your tongue to embolden spirited conversation from the mouths above the bow tie—arguing about which one of your friends is most like Nathaniel P. is more fun in superb lighting and surrounded by priceless architecture than crammed on an IKEA futon. The vastness of the NYPL ensures intimacy in the smaller rooms and community in the cavernous halls.

Feel like being at Brooklyn Bowl in a ball gown? There's Questlove playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" remixes in the regal Celeste Bartos Forum. Does your date need a quiet, knowing peck on the cheek at the bottom of a palatial marble staircase? Go right ahead, you won't make anyone in the vicinity feel touched and crushingly alone! Prohibition: what were they thinking?

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic lasts for two more days—more event info here and here. Check back at the MCC's website for recipes for this year's featured cocktails.