A Superlative Añejo Guide to the Most Extraordinary Tequilas

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Mezcal has been the quinoa of the booze world  these last few years, with too many goofily suspendered bartending types waxing overly rhapsodic on its particular qualities. But tequila, technically a type of mezcal (N.B. the former originates from Jalisco, the latter from Oaxaca), still reigns in the American imagination.

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National Tequila Day is this Sunday, July 24. And while the summer swelter might have you bending to the temptation of slushy frozen Lime-a-Ritas, we encourage you to take the higher road to agave enlightenment. And to guide you through the serious stuff, we conferred with DJ Brown, spirits guru at Añejo in Hell’s Kitchen. Along with its equally sexy Tribeca outpost, they’ve become go-to destinations for NYC’s more discriminating connoisseurs of fine Mexican spirits (not to mention the amazing eats). Indeed, the Village Voice voted their margarita as the absolute best in all of New York. Seriously.

And so with July 24 just two days away, here is BlackBook and Añejo‘s five step guide to tequila nirvana.

 

Casa Noble Single Barrel Joven

102 proof and aged for 6 weeks in French Oak Barrels. While Casa Noble is widely known, their Single Barrel Joven is a bit more obscure. Stone fruits and warm, sweet vanilla make this tequila best served neat, with its smooth finish.

Fortaleza Reposado

Aged in American Oak for 8 months and served in hand blown glass bottles, this tequila looks great on the shelf and makes a fantastic margarita. A mix of cinnamon and vanilla balance well against fresh squeezed lime and agave, and gives the margarita a perfect smooth and full mouth feel.

 

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Ocho Plata 2015 “La Rivera”

Each year the Ocho batch is produced with agave from one field and is labeled as such. This low land tequila is full bodied and tastes of sweet cooked agave and ripe fruit mixed with pepper and a hint of smoke. Preferred on the rocks or in a Paloma.

Artenom 1146

An Añejo with a complex blend of varying ages and barrels. Starting with French oak and ending 4 years later in American oak, 1146 is deep in color and complexity. Upfront caramel, raisin, oak, and almond set the stage for the herbaceous finish of white pepper, jalapeno, ginger and oregano, all the while wrapped in the warm spiciness typical of an Añejo tequila. 

 

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Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva Extra Anejo

Aged 4 years in French and American Oak, Excelencia is the “after dinner” tequila. The rich, oaky body and blend of earth, oak, brown sugar and chocolate make this the perfect for sipping, to pair with or have as dessert.

 

Must-Haves for Your Next Pokemon Go Excursion

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A wave of nostalgia has hit millennials as Pokemon Go has amassed more users than Twitter in its first week. Adults with an affinity for the anime classic quickly took to the streets for an interactive experience that few apps offer. In most U.S. cities, it’s become near-impossible to go out without finding someone on the hunt for a Charmander.

If you still haven’t joined the fun, make sure you’re prepared before you go catch ’em all. These essentials will help you get started:

Pokemon Pikachu Chambray Snapback Hat

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What would Ash do? Accessorize with a hat. Let your spirit animal (or Pokemon) guide you and keep the sun out your eyes. ($19.90 at Hot Topic)

Horween Leather Charging Wallet

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Don’t get caught with a low battery just before you bag a Mewtwo. This stylish wallet also doubles as a portable iPhone charger. ($119.95 at Nomad)

Fendi Buggies Backpack

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Although not technically a Pokemon, Buggies are super cute and totally stylish. It’s for the nerd who knows how to accessorize. ($1,850 at Barneys)

Flashback Photobomber Hoodie

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If you must go out at night for the sake of catching ’em all, play it safe. This stylish reflective hoody will make your presence known wherever you go. ($228 at Betabrand)

Huma Energy Gel Box

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Since this might be the most physical activity a gamer has ever experienced, make sure you stay energized before you hit the streets. ($54 for a box of 24 at Huma)

 

It’s Bastille Day! Raise a Glass of Something ‘Rich’

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Our “Special Relationship” with Britain has been befuddled by Brexit. And in the coming weeks the chattering classes with be focused squarely on Cleveland and Philadelphia.

But just for one day this week, it’s time to break out the Je Suis Francaise t-shirts and brush up on the proper pronunciation of “guillotine” (ɡēəˌtēn, if you weren’t quite sure). Indeed, tomorrow, July 14, is Bastille Day, the annual fete that causes so many New Yorkers to temporarily question their patriotic allegiances. And we couldn’t think of anyone we’d rather spend it with (excepting, perhaps, Audrey Tautou) than those cunning curators of joie de vivre over at Veuve Clicquot.

They’ve just launched a revolution of their own, with the très égalité Clicquot Rich, meant (l’horreur!) to actually be mingled, mixed and served over ice. Should you be hosting, may we recommend stocking up on basil, ginger, grapefruit rind, roasted pineapple, basil, tea and cucumber? But we’ll be found all afternoon and evening sipping and quoting Voltaire at some of our favorite NYC hotel bars.

Best of all? The Clicquot Rich bottle glows in the dark…perhaps as a beacon of revolutionary freedom?

Where To Sip “Rich” on Bastille Day

Mr Purple NYC

Mr. Purple at Hotel Indigo

Just for Bastille Day, pretend it’s actually called Monsieur Violet.

The New York EDITION

Ian Schrager’s Madison Square celeb-magnet has a decidedly British soul, but its Fraternité Francaise will be on full display on the 14th.

The Roof at The Viceroy

If you strain a little, you can see all the way to Marseille from the Viceroy’s glorious rooftop lounge.

 

 

 

The Best New Place To Grab A Drink In San Francisco

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A new cocktail bar has opened in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district. Aptly named, The Treasury boasts a list of drinks sure to impress your next date and potential client. Bar director and restaurant partner, Carlos Yturria crafts housemade highlights like The Standard Oil (Rittenhouse rye whiskey, Dolin rouge vermouth, Drambuie, coffee bitters), Flash (Aviation gin, kiwi, cucumber, lemon) and Rich + Rugged. (Cutty Sark “Prohibition” scotch whiskey, strawberry and black pepper shrub, lemon). The bar chef also boasts a robust sherry program, housemade tinctures, sous vide syrups, and a strong selection of beer and wine. Plenty of beverage options to pair with high roller bar bites like chicken liver mousse, oysters on the half shell and three tiers of traditional caviar service.  When it comes to vibe, The Treasury has it nailed with its 1915 era Beau Arts building transformed into a modern day Parisian bar of yesteryear.  An aesthetic created and executed by local studio, Geremia Design.  This spot is perfect to grab an after work drink or a night cap.

The Treasury is located at 115 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA.

Style Muse Zella Day Takes To Rough Trade Stage Tonight

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“I grew up in the mountains,” recalls 21-year-old, Arizona born singer-songwriter Zella Day, “and my parents owned a coffee shop called Mor Mor Coffee. On Fridays they had open mic, so I was lucky to be around really good musicians.”

Major fashion mags have gushed about her organically cool, 70s-boho-chic style, which she describes as “Jane Birkin meets quintessential flower girl.” But more significantly, of course, her music has been captivating audiences from coast to coast—including a very well-received performance at this year’s Coachella. Her evocative, retro-West-Coast indie folk is all the more affecting for her fiery, expressionist vocal style.

She’ll take the stage at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade tonight, 8pm, as part of the burgeoning, and much buzzed about Steve Madden Summer Music Series (which has already featured the likes of XYLØ and The Kills). Madden himself explains of the impetus for the series, “I’ve always been a music person, I listened to a lot of music as a kid. So I started Steve Madden Music as a new way to engage with our audience.”

Day has been riding high, with songs in two recent major films (The Divergent Series: Insurgent and The Finest Hours) and billing at this year’s Lollapalooza. She is also planning to release a new album this fall, so her fans can surely expect to hear some new tunes at the Rough Trade show tonight. But she’s also just, “looking forward to being back in Brooklyn where my little sister lives, so that we can have a beer before the show.”

 

Celebs Gather for Coach’s Summer Party on the High Line

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Images by Billy Farrell

Lured by the gorgeous weather and good cause, an a-list crowd gathered for Coach and Friends of the High Line‘s sixth annual bash to raise funds for NYC’s beloved “park in the sky.” Chaired by Julia Capalino, Serena Marron and William Marron, the glittering crowd included Riley Keough, Sophie Auster, Parker Posey, Lottie Moss, Harry Brant, Famke Janssen, Lynn Yaeger, Amy Sacco, Hailey Clauson and BlackBook’s own Hunter Hill.

This year’s theme was “backyard picnic,” with guests nibbling on lobster rolls by Bite and playing vintage-inspired games. The interactive photo both was a particular hit.

Julian Herrera, Hailey Clauson

Lynn Yaeger

Lynn Yaeger

 

11 Rapturous Reasons to Eat & Drink in Philadelphia Now

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XIX

It’s become de rigueur by now for every city from Des Moines to Dubrovnik to tout its “bourgeoning food scene.” But Philadelphia has the distinction of having New York City (and D.C.) actually importing its chefs and its restaurant scene—the latest being Jose Garces’ Amada, which opened earlier this year in Battery Park. And Philly restaurant god Stephen Starr has just opened Le Coucou at the 11 Howard hotel in Soho, his sixth in New York.

We hop the Amtrak south as often as we can, as much for the music scene as for the tonnarelli neri at Barbuzzo. So we were especially motivated by a recent invitation to fete the artistically-inclined makeover of the illustrious Hyatt at the Bellevue.


Hyatt at the Bellevue room

Hyatt at the Bellevue

The hotel itself is a genuine legend dating to 1904, when it was opened as the Bellevue-Stratford. It’s the sort of place where there seems to be something historical/fascinating around nearly every corner. Its recent refashioning by Marguerite Rodgers Interior Design was in thematic partnership with the likes of The Pennsylvania Ballet and the Opera Philadelphia. Original costume design sketches now adorn the hallways, while select local artists were engaged to contribute new works for the rooms.

The hotel also sits virtually equidistant between Center City’s two hottest food scenes, S. 18th St in one direction, S. 13th St in another. But its own XIX Restaurant & Bar, under new chef Ned Maddock, should be your first stop for sophisticated, Euro-accented New American (grilled Spanish octopus, braised rabbit leg, excellent raw bar) and smart international cocktails…all in a spectacular 19th floor setting. The adjoining XIX Café is literally one of the most breathtaking spaces in which you’ll ever take Sunday brunch.


XIX Bar & Lounge Philadelphia

XIX Bar

South 18th Street Dining

Bar Bombon

Cool little veggie-vegan Latin bar, serves up Verde Luz and Rosado margaritas in a setting straight out of Oaxaca. A sustainable food geek’s dream, delish brussels sprout tacos and street cred empanadas are all made from non-GMO ingredients.

Dandelion

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Stephen Starr’s cheeky approximation of an classic Blighty pub nails it on all counts. Indeed, the hunting trophies, Churchill bust and Sex Pistols “Queen” poster land it just this side of kitsch, and the music is totally aces. Ironically order up an Iron Lady cocktail to wash down your lamb’s shepherd’s pie and triple cooked chips. (The Amer-Asian Serpico is Starr’s latest Philly opening).

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Awesomely bourgeois, it feels as if the entire lunch crowd has just popped in from a Princeton alumni gathering. Sleek, spare and air-kissy, for maximum “being seen” grab a seat at the bar, and throw eye-contact over asparagus salad with rhubard, green goddess and arctic char, or grilled octopus with sweet potato, spiced pistachio and coriander yogurt.

Tria Cafe

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All-afternoon wine and cheese bar puts the EU on your plate. Pair exquisite selections of fromage imported from France, Switzerland, Holland and Portugal with a smooth Austrian Zweigelt or a lighthearted Piedmontese Dolcetto.

South 13th Street Dining

Barbuzzo

Endlessly sceney Mediterranean, even the bar is shoulder-to-shoulder at lunch. The sage ravioli, grilled octopus and wood-fired sardines are all aces. But much more fun is sharing a sophisto charcuterie plate and wild boar sausage pizza with your favorite Europhile friends.

Tredici Enoteca

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So much Italo style, it looks air-lifted from Amalfi or Capri. Errs on the side of the classics (squid ink tonarelli, saffron arancini, Moroccan spice ribs). But pull up to the beautiful bar for oysters, crudo and the Mediterranean tasting board, paired with a good Vermentino.

Sampan & Graffiti Bar

Behind its cool faux-bamboo facade, Sampan delivers mod Asian street food nirvana (crab wonton tacos, wok hay shrimp). Its Graffiti Bar does one of the hippest happy hours in town, with sexy cocktails like the Ming Mule and Junmai Fizz for just $9, and $4 chicken bao buns.

Jamonera

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Barbuzzo’s hot Spanish cousin. Fiery red interiors set the scene for rapturous plates of Jamon Iberico de Bellota and Crispy Callasparra Rice. Or just pull up to the bar with a bold Tempranillo paired up with Figs & Chistorra Chorizo.

Center City Drinking

Vesper

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With Hop Sing Laundromat having long passed its “secret” cachet, this is the new galvanizer of Philly’s haute cocktail crowd. Indeed, Vesper is where the bartenders drink. More lively than the typical upscale tippling hotspot, signature drinks have clever names like Flu Shot and Redhead in a Sombrero, and there’s a top quality raw bar.

The Franklin Bar

Also known as the Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company (an edifying Prohibition Era reference), its drinks program has racked up awards from the likes of GQ and Bon Appetit. The usual unmarked door leads to an atmosphere of masculine sophistication, and cocktails that are fussed over, without being precious.

Goodnight Mr. Lewis: Nightlife Thrives Now, But an Inevitable Crackdown Nears

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House of Yes (Photography: Audrey Penmen)

We find ourselves in a more resilient era. January saw the closing of mega club Pacha after a 10-year-run. In past eras, the loss of such an iconic joint might have devastated the scene, but other joints stepped up and absorbed the crowds. In Manhattan, Stage 48 seemed to benefit the most from the closing, but a recent check bounce to promoter Kayvon Zand has me wondering about the viability of that venue. Space has survived, but it’s at best a lukewarm club still searching for an identity that will probably be found without the current regime.

Santos Party House is now suddenly closed, although I see that space being revived with a new concept brand. Santos had some wonderful nights and some great parties, but it was always plagued by confused management. It closed with a sigh, not a cry and their scene shifted mostly to Brooklyn.

Brooklyn, once a bedroom community, has clearly taken the reigns as the epicenter of NYC nightlife. When one of the mainstays of that borough Verboten was shuttered recently due to legal problems, folks were worried if a crackdown similar to the one that closed much of the scene in West Chelsea was in the works. Then Mayor Giuliani had designated certain derelict neighborhoods of Manhattan as cabaret zones. The Meatpacking District was one of these zones and clubs grew like magic mushrooms where cattle and other innocents were slaughtered. Although there isn’t much there besides the Standard Hotel and Cielo below it, the area does attract hordes of revelers. To be fair, Catch, Provocateur, 1OAK, Avenue and Tao are still keen. Luxury high rises have only been allowed on the fringes of this nightlife mecca.

Another zone was the West Chelsea club district. As real estate interests eyed the area, police found all sorts of violations in the existing clubs. Places like Home, Guesthouse, Bed, Quo, Mansion, Cain, Suzie Wongs, Spirit, Bungalow 8 and many more suddenly seemed to be operated by bad, bad people or were unable to survive the changing climate and neighborhood. It was amazing to see all those luxury high rises rise from the ashes. Some think it wasn’t a coincidence that the clubs couldn’t survive and coincide.

Texts to a Verboten owner have only yielded a “there’s two sides to every story”-type response. When dealing with cops and the city there always is. Yet Verboten’s re-opening seems to be forbidden—for now. Still, nightlife thrives as good as ever with House of Yes, 2 Wyckoff. Originally thought of as a performance club, it is now absorbing the best of what Brooklyn offers. I was to attend an event there last night and I will continue to go and support what I consider the best place in town. Cityfox has stepped up bigtime with the opening of The Brooklyn Mirage, 140 Stewart Avenue. This mega venue holds thousands and could be the all things to all people type of nightlife experience that the old folks always complain is lacking. There is nothing lacking. There is also Good Room although very rarely more than an okay room, it still offers an outlet for those not willing to pay the $50 plus entry to Mirage, or are intimidated by the fabulousness of House of Yes.

The development of the waterfronts of Williamsburg and Greenpoint continues. Everywhere you look, cranes bring steel and concrete to dormitories for trust fund kids, commuting slaves and Manhattan refuges. The artists and creative types seem to be making a last stand in Bushwick and Bed-Stuy. The loss of the L Train may stay the inevitable, but rest assured in the war between condos and nightlife the condos always win. Eventually the glory of those artists and cool cheap nightlife that brought in the new inhabitants in the first place will be exiled to another hood as by then the baby carriages, Duane Reade’s and $80 brunches will have displaced the edge.

Yet out of all my gloom I hear of another mega-club. These folks of whom I will not speak of now will bring that edge to Johnson and Starr as soon as all the I’s are dotted on the legal stuff and the paint dries. Here’s a couple of raw shots of the place which is being built for dancing and dreams:


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The World’s Five Best Sushi Restaurants: by SUSHISAMBA’s Koji Kagawa

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SUSHISAMBA

With the dizzying pace of shifting worldwide food trends, the enduring appeal of a simple, fresh sashimi lunch or an elaborate Omakase dinner is a testament to the endless creativity of contemporary sushi chefs. And while assigning a special day to cucumbers and radishes may seem nothing more than a marketing-led folly, International Sushi Day, which is celebrated this Sunday, June 18, carries with it a genuine culinary gravitas.

Seeking wisdom, we went to the source, tapping SUSHISAMBA top chef Koji Kagawa to enlighten as to his personal favorite sushi restaurants throughout the world. Interestingly, three of his choices are in New York, proving once again the depth of Gotham’s food scene. SUSHISAMBA itself, with locations in NYC, Miami, Coral Gables, Las Vegas and London, continues to win over Japanophiles and scene seekers, combining a cutting-edge kitchen philosophy with glamorous style and awesome people watching


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SUSHISAMBA NYC

SUSHISAMBA NYC, specifically, will celebrate International Sushi Day all weekend, with an exclusive nigiri/donburi experience from Friday through Sunday. Under expert guidance, and for just $19 pp, guests can create nigiri (a ball of wasabi-tinged rice topped with seafood) or build their own donburi (rice bowl dish) right at their table. And with its sexy, fiery orange interiors and buzzy rooftop scene, it’s surely a perfect date night waiting to happen.


Ushiwakamaru, New York

Under the direction of karate master Hideo Kuribara, Ushiwakamaru is big on quality, precision and presentation. I recommend snagging a seat at the sushi counter and ordering the chef’s selection, Omakase.

Sushi Masato, Bangkok

Born and raised in Japan, Masato Shimizu became a sushi master in Tokyo, finessed his skill set in New York City (where we became friends) and eventually relocated to Thailand. He’s always been a connoisseur of local ingredients, and the menu at Sushi Masato is no exception. Again, order the Omakase.

Hirohisa, New York

Chef Hirohisa Hayashi delivers one of the most traditional Japanese dining experiences in New York. The menu gives guests a taste of his hometown in the Fukui Prefecture of Japan, with Kyoto, kaiseki-style cuisine.

Wada, Honolulu

Takanori Wada, Shige Akimoto and Hiroki Kobayashi oversee this Hawaiian gem, where the produce and ingredients are super fresh. The Washu Beef Tongue is my go-to whenever I have the opportunity to travel to Honolulu.

Abe’s Kitchen Counter at En Japanese Brasserie, New York

Chef Abe Horoki steps outside of tradition with more inventive approaches to Japanese cuisine. I recommend the Kampachi Kama. They also have an excellent sake selection.