Champagning Wednesdays Tonight, Spotted: Scarlett Johansson Getting a Tattoo

This Sunday I will DJ at the VAR Magazine launch at the Wooster Street Social Club (43 Wooster, Grand and Broome). Everyone knows the space from NY Ink. I have attended a couple of functions there and am looking forward to this event. I’m trying to arrange getting a tattoo in between DJ sets. There are a bunch of bands so I might be able to get a quickie. Has this been done? I’m such a visionary. It is an "art of tattoo event.” They say:

"The purpose of the event is to launch VAR’s inspired vision of tattoo and body art into mainstream culture. VAR recognizes the accessibility preferences of its readers and that with digital media and blogging comes on-demand video and audio interviews, image, and text at the tap of a finger or the click of a mouse. VARs first issue will focus on the desire for accessibility while returning to the tradition of fine art’s elite status as tactile object by publishing a traditional print edition."

FUSE TV’s very own Juliya Chernetsky will be the host for the evening. Sally Shan was my point person. I’m about to start a new round of tattoos and this is a good place to start.

Speaking of tattoos, the other day I caught Scarlett Johansson at Graceland, one of my favorite haunts, getting some ink. I don’t know what she got. Maybe I do, but I’ll leave that stuff to the gossip columnists. Speaking of gossip, I heard that one of my favorite heroines of nightlife is planning on a Meatpacking venture. Amy Sacco who has been, I am told, winning in London, is set to open up again in New York. If this is true, it is truly a reason to be cheerful. Nobody does it better than Amy.

My pal Nick Andreottola (I can never say his last name right…let alone spell it) is constantly inviting me to his highly successful Champagning Wednesdays at the Dream Hotel. Tonight I must venture up there – the one on 55th Street – because he has DJ Teal working for him. The idea of this early midweek event ( it goes from 6:30pm to midnight) appeals to me. This week, the party has moved upstairs to the Ava Penthouse Lounge of the hotel due to construction downstairs. A rule in nightclubs: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it but immediately export it to another location… and then another. So it goes with Champagning!

Downtown is being launched on Thursdays from 7pm till midnight at Villa Pacri (55 Ganesvoort) in the Meatpacking District. Bobby Blaze will provide the music. Villa Pacri provides an indoor and outdoor space so this figures to be a great early evening place to go to before the late night Meat mayhem.

Industry Insiders: Kevin Crawford, Private Partier

It’s all about turning ideas into reality for Kevin Crawford, who produces events for discerning clients at some of the most elegant and exclusive spots in New York, including  AVA Lounge and The Bar at the Dream Hotel and Inc Lounge at the Time Hotel. We caught up with him to learn how he got into the events business, and how he stays on top of it. 

Where are you from?

I was born in Hoboken, New Jersey and lived in the area until I was 24.  I was really into music at a young age and that is probably why I ventured to clubs when I did. I would always bother my grandpa for money to go buy vinyl records every week.  I think if I wasn’t doing what I do today, I probably would have been a DJ.

How did you get into nightlife?
The first club I went to was a place called Area and it was a party for Paloma Picasso. My friend Luis Nunez, who worked for David Lachapelle at the time, had taken his younger brother and me out that evening and I had never seen anything like it.  I was totally hooked. I tried a few different careers out over the years (booker at modeling agency etc.) but somehow always came back to the club.
What was it like working for (BlackBook nightlife columnist) Steve Lewis when he was a major nightclub owner and operator?
Working for Steve was a monumental experience. Nightlife in NYC was at its peak and there was so much going on every day, whether we were dealing with a temperamental Grace Jones who wouldn’t go on stage, or getting him up at 5am to appear on the Joan Rivers show (he loves telling that story), every day was something new and exciting.  If I told you what I learned from him I would have to kill you but it was an experience I look back on fondly.
What exactly do you do now?
I currently have an exclusive in-house deal at three venues operated by Loungebars Management — Ava Lounge /Rooftop and The Bar at the Dream Hotel and Inc Lounge at the Time Hotel — where I manage all events and marketing. In 2007 I started a small event management / production company called Kevin Crawford Inc. I wanted an outlet to produce bigger, more creative events like fashion shows, premieres etc., which had been dream of mine since I started in the business.  I was fascinated by the supermodels and always had ideas of what I would do if I could produce a fashion show. I was able to achieve that goal which was invigorating and exhausting at the same time.
What is an average day like for you, if there is such a thing as an average day?
Who wants to have an average day? In the morning I read all the blogs and papers to see what’s happening in the world. Most days are spent in the office fielding calls, negotiating with clients, and running around to the venues conducting site visits.  I have at the very least between two and five events per week, so some afternoons are spent prepping for them, and every day is different. I also like to look for new and exciting opportunities for the lounges so we can create an atmosphere that people want revisit over and over again.
How is it different managing events at rooftop bars and lounges compared with indoor spaces? 
The major challenge with an outdoor space is Mother Nature. Thankfully we have a backup at Ava Lounge so if it rains, we can certainly accommodate the client in the indoor portion of the venue. Convincing people it will work out is sometimes a challenge, but in the end after a beautiful night and a great event, it’s a good feeling seeing your client ecstatic with the outcome and asking if they can hold the space for another event.
What’s the secret to your success? How do you make it work in such a competitive space?
The secret to my success has always really just being myself.  I love making people laugh and I really feed off of people so if I have a new client I try and make them comfortable in the first few minutes of meeting them. We usually hit it off right from the start. It’s then that I know the event is going to be great and I’ll go the extra mile to make them happy.  I have clients that I have been working with for over 10 years and I know what they like and expect, so as long as the lines of communication are open, the rest just happens.
What do you enjoy the most about your job, and what are some of the challenges? 
I really enjoy closing a big deal and making the client see that it was worth it.  I have such a great team at the lounges and they really make my job that much easier. I am a people pleaser for sure so if you’re happy, I’m happy.  The challenges I face sometimes are working with difficult clients who, no matter what you do, you cannot please. I don’t like those days but I try my best and that is all one can do.
What are some of the trends you see for summer 2012? Any cocktail trends you’re staying on top of?  
Right now we’re working with a new company called Liquid Lab NYC. They are an up and coming mixology company that has created a few new cocktails for our summer menu.  I think people want a variety of options so we’ve created a pretty diverse menu with something for everyone. One of my favorite drinks right now is a Tomato Basil martini – it’s delicious and perfect for a rooftop in the summer. Another trend they’ve turned me
on to is spherification, which is the culinary process of shaping liquid into spheres or balls like caviar.  We’re going serve mojito balls using this process at our summer launch party and think the trend will carry on at major events and other venues.
Many people would like to do what you do. What advice would you give a young person who is interested in working in nightlife at a high level? 
I never wanted to own my own club. Working in nightlife is a tough business and it’s extremely fickle. I basically found the element of it that I enjoyed and could also make money, but that wasn’t without a struggle.  I learned from some amazing people so my advice would be to stay in school, find out what you love about nightlife and what you see yourself doing, and then work really hard to achieve that goal. Oh … and don’t drink too much.
Finally, what do you do to relax when you have some time off?
Lately when I have free time I’ve been venturing out into different areas of entertainment. I’m currently assisting a friend who is shooting a music video and getting to learn about lighting and set design. I’ve also always been drawn to editing and think that is something I would do well.  I also love to travel and recently went to Tulum, Mexico with 10 friends for my birthday.  I’m most happy when I’m surrounded by friends and family, cooking, laughing, and just having a good time.
[Photo: Marko Kalfa]

Grey Goose Outside Insiders: Ric Addison, Dreamy Drinks

Ric Addison knows all about pleasing the hard to please. As the owner of three upscale Manhattan lounges, Ava Penthouse Lounge and Rm. Fifty5 at the Dream hotel, and Inc. Lounge at the Time hotel, his clients tend to be well heeled, well traveled, and familiar with high-end cocktails. He was made for the challenge, presiding over cocktail menus that satisfy and stimulate the palate in equal measure. Here, Addison talks about his background, the changing of the (cocktail) seasons, and the effect of an open sky on drink orders.

What kind of background do you have in hospitality? I worked with (hospitality legends) Rande Gerber and Ian Schrager for years and learned a lot from them before I opened my own venues.

How are your cocktail menus structured? I have the menu separated by individual spirits, and I stay on top of the trends and feature the best cocktails in each section. We provide a little bit of everything for everybody, because our customers come from all over the place: upscale world travelers and high-end clientele such as bankers and entertainers.

What’s popular these days? Flavored vodkas are very trendy. All of the Grey Goose flavors are very popular within my establishments. We work a lot with Grey Goose L’Orange. It goes well in so many cocktails.

Does your cocktail menu change with the seasons? It does. I change our menu twice a year, spring/summer and fall/winter. We keep it light for summer, with refreshing flavors such as cucumber. Winter brings out the brown sugar, cinnamon, things like that. Our fall/winter 2011-2012 cocktail menu was introduced last week and we’ve had great feedback so far.

So you’re into fresh, natural ingredients for your cocktails? Absolutely. We try to use locally-sourced, organic ingredients whenever possible. For example, we always used fresh-squeezed juices.

Since your venues boast outdoor space, have you found that people order different kinds of cocktails when they’re under the sun or stars? When people are outside, they tend to order more tropical-style drinks, like mojitos and punches and things like that. Citrus flavors are big.

Suppose a customer has a basic idea of what they like, but needs some guidance in what to order. How would you help them? All of our bartenders are very well trained, and if somebody needs help in deciding what to order, we’ll ask them about what kinds of flavors they like. The bartender will always put together something special.