New York: Top 10 Summer Cocktails

Cold cocktails and summer go together. Whether you’re sitting by the beach or running from your office at the stroke of five to cool down at the nearest bar, the only question is: what is the most rockin,’ balls-to-the-wall, delicious, sunshine-inspired beverages out there? This list will get you started on a summer journey through NYC’s nooks and crannies, keeping your taste buds tantalized through at least October 1.

● Wailer’s Island Punch @ The Bourgeois Pig (East Village) – You don’t need to fly to Jamaica to feel like you are on an island listening to Bob Marley and his Wailers. All you need do is head to the East Village, order the Wailer’s Island Punch, and you will assuredly hear steel drums by your second glass. The muddled raspberries, Pedro Ximenez sherry, pineapple juice, lime, and Pol Roger champagne mixtures will have you jammin.’

● Beet Sangria @ Tailor (Soho) – Any chance to infuse vegetables into your liquor is healthy! I tend to even harbor the notion that I am doing some good to that bikini body by sipping on the Beet Sangria made from red wine, brandy, Triple Sec, orange juice, beet juice, and orange salt. The red of the beets brings out the red of the wine — or vice versa — and makes for a bold-colored, tasty treat. Another veggietail perfect for summer is the Bell Pepper Margarita; it’s fiery and makes you feel like you’ve traveled south of the border, or is that just the blazing sun on the Manhattan concrete? Either way, these drinks will simultaneously heat you up and cool you off.

● The Myra Breckinridge @ Death & Co (East Village) – The cocktails are crafted with such care, detail, and finesse at this cool speakeasy that you ultimately cannot choose wrong. For the piping-hot months of July, August, and I’ll throw in September for good measure, try one of the concoctions from the “Indian Summer” menu. The “Myra Breckinridge” features Laphroaig single-malt scotch, absinthe, fresh lime juice, and sugarcane syrup. And to add a little rum to your punch, try the “Gantt’s Tomb,” consisting of Goslings rum, Rittenhouse rye, El Dorado 151-proof rum, fresh pineapple, orange and lemon juice, and Allspice Dram. So many ingredients, so little time to try them all.

● Caipirinha @ Paladar (Lower East Side) – Nothing says summer like a day of sipping on caipirinhas. The mint and lime are muddled to perfection at this Latino digs on Ludlow. Drinks are half price from 4-7pm, so might I suggest starting while the sun is still shining high? Those pestering sweat beads on your brow will dissipate in no time.

● Basil 8 @ Table 8 (East Village) – The Cooper Square Hotel restaurant is aesthetically pleasing, uber-trendy and so hot right now. The “Basil 8” is made with Ketel One vodka, white grapes, basil, lime juice, and ginger ale. White grapes are a staple fruit of summer, and putting them into a cocktail will keep you stapled to the bar.

● Frozen Mojito @ Cabanas at the Maritime Hotel (Chelsea) – It’s a slushy with alcohol … need I say more? This drink embodies summer, as does the fact that you will be enjoying it on a tremendous rooftop. Stargazing is also a plus, and ya’ll know I am not talking about the stars in the sky.

● Bittersweet Mimosa @ The Stanton Social (Lower East Side) – Brings bravado to your everyday mimosa. Yes, I like to have one every day. It is composed of Moscato d’Asti, Campari, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Flavorful, refreshing, and oh-so yummy. Be careful of the midafternoon hangover. Go sleep it off on the beach; just don’t drive there.

● The Sun and Moon @ Haven (Midtown East) – Made with U’luvka vodka, fresh pineapple juice, lime juice, and muddled sage. A simple, amiable way to start drinking by day and keep right on until the moonlight. There are also $13 pitchers of a featured mixed drinks served daily during happy hour, plus burlesque parties every Thursday starting at 9pm with an open bar from 9-10pm. Summertime cocktails and nipple tassels, anyone?

● Dirty Martini @ Angel’s Share (East Village) – Tucked away above a Japanese restaurant, this “no standing allowed” lounge demands courtesy and etiquette; you’ll never find yourself cramped with a bunch of sweaty folks just off the hot streets, as you must be in a chair to drink at this establishment. No more chairs means you have to wait, but yummy cocktails come to those who do. The vodka or gin (depending on which tickles your fancy) come with the olive juice on the side, so you can dirty it up to taste. Combined with the vibe, the conversation gets better with each beverage, and so does your date’s appearance.

● Gold Cup Mint Julep @ Hotel Griffou (Greenwich Village) – OK, it’s just a mint julep served in a gold cup. But this place is so brand spanking new and trendy, and who doesn’t love a classic mint julep in the summertime? The gold cup is just a bonus.

Summer Nights: Changing of the Guard

A game of musical chairs is being played by most of the major promotional entities as the summer roof season is upon us. While the highly successful 230 Fifth will still dominate this market just as the Empire State Building dominates its incredible view, some places remain unsettled or don’t have a clear opening date due to a myriad of problems. Highbar is getting a quick polish, while the roof at the Stay Hotel is still under construction. Mixed reports come from Cabanas and The Park, and the highly-touted Above Allen will finally get to open its windows amidst hopes that the sound spill doesn’t disturb too many hotel guests and nearby residents. Daemon O’Neil, Rose Bar’s patient, sweet, and very good-looking door guru (not to be confused with Damion Luaiye), is packing his clipboard and heading over to the Bazaar Bar at the upcoming Trump Soho hotel. The economic downturn, a weak dollar, and a laundry list of safety issues make travel abroad a lot less attractive this season. I hear reports that Hamptons summer rentals are sluggish, yet the Surf Lodge in Montauk is riding high.

I caught up with super duper and uber owner/outdoor space promoter Jeffrey Jah of 1Oak and other fabulous places, and he told me he was bringing back the “changing of the guard” at Groovedeck at Hudson Terrace this summer. “With Groovedeck, we’ve assembled an insane team from Bijoux (Dimitry and Francois) to Pavan and the 1Oak team. We’ve booked the Hamptons Magazine summer kick-off party as well as Lydia Hearst hosting the last International Film Premiere event.” I asked Jeffrey how the whole outdoor summer club thing started for him.

It’s pretty simple … the first real outdoor parties were “Groove on the Move,” with Mark Baker and I back in the early 90s, moving from the Central Park Boathouse to Tavern on the Green, and then permanently at Bowery Bar with Eric Goode and Serge Becker. There really were no other outdoor parties; then in 2000, I moved to Pier 59 Studios and created the deck with Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva — that’s where Remi Laba and Aymeric Clemente were given their fist taste of club promotions. They were low-level maitre d’s. In 2003, we were forced to move it to BED (the same team), and then they tried to get smart, and Baker, Remi, and Karim sold them on a cheaper deal without the 1Oak crew, but they were done after four weeks. We missed two seasons, and we’re now back at Hudson Terrace.

I asked Jeffrey if the problems with international travel these days, the weak dollar, and pandemic diseases would keep people closer to home. “Yes, the economy will keep people here. New York is the capital of the world. What’s more important is that Europeans will venture more to America with the weak dollar and get more value for the buck. We will see a lot of Euros this summer. New York is resilient, we’ve seen worst times apres 9/11. People want to blow off steam, and if the product is good, they will come again and again. A lot of people are not taking houses in the Hamptons this summer because institutional money and jobs evaporated over the last half of 2008 and first quarter of 2009. Hence I’m betting that we will see a much stronger city summer.”

I also asked Hudson Terrace co-owner Michael Sinensky about the economic impact. “If you can build one of the nicest venues in New York City, people will come out to escape what’s going on in the world. In this economy, you have to really service the customer and think outside the box to keep your patrons entertained, happy, and feeling satisfied enough that they’ll come back. I don’t think it’s all about having the best promoters and DJs and strictest door anymore — I think that’s a formula to stay open 6 to 12 months. Hudson Terrace wasn’t built to follow the models-and-bottles formula and meet their steep table minimums. Instead, we’ve taken pages from our other successful eating and drinking establishments such as the Village Pourhouse, Sidebar, and Vintage Irving, with offerings like pitchers of sangria and margaritas.” They’re pitching a happy hour concept from 5-7 p.m. I’m proud to say that Hudson Terrace was designed by my partner Marc Dizon.

The roof parties and a stop-start economy will get us through the heat of summer. An added value is that outdoor parties are generally blessed with quieter music, as sound travels and Manhattan gets more crowded by the minute. The music played in most clubs theses days — especially the clubs catering to these particular crowds — has stagnated. The isolation of Hudson Terrace and Jeffrey’s commitment to play it a little forward should educate a crowd to new tastes. Steven Greenberg’s 230 Fifth bans hip hop altogether in favor of mostly rock fare. This space is the highest-grossing joint in New York nightlife history. I know only a little about music made in this century, but I do know this: The crowds I DJ to these day are growing, and my CD collection isn’t. I play almost an entirely rock set, and there seem to be a lot more people interested in it than a year ago. Oh, if you want to hear me DJ or toss an egg or discuss clubdom, I’ll be at 38 Howard Street off Broadway tonight; I go on at 12:30 a.m., right after the bands.

New York: Top 10 Places to Get Devoured by a Cougar

Growing up, my friends had very traditional pets: dogs, cats, Tamagotchis. My family, being the eccentrics that they are (re: immigrants) made sure that my brother and I had something a little more fierce to play with. Our pet cougar loved us for ten passionate years before his unfortunate death at the hands of a demented hunter. My mother, saint that she is, told her distraught sons that our dead cougar was going to “cougar heaven,” a place where “cougars roamed free and never went hungry.” Little did I know she was talking about New York City.

Stone Rose Lounge (Midtown West) – NY’s reigning cougar sanctuary, where newbie Time Warner suits come to get served. Owner’s wife is Cougar Ultima Cindy Crawford. And the fact that I just referred to Cindy Crawford as a cougar makes me feel pruney. ● Nikki Beach A cougar oasis, if you will. No small coincidence that the first cougar I tamed was also named Nikki Beach (she was an amateur porn star). This is where you go to get your tiki torched. ● Geisha (Upper East Side) – Gogougar describes a geisha as a “subservient breed of cougar, and, as a result, a species that doesn’t totally subscribe to the whole Cougar ethic. She’s more interested in pleasing you, than she is in pleasing herself.” We describe it as a posh Japanese restaurant on the Upper East Side in which to get picked up by cougars. ● Bemelmans (Upper East Side) – The great thing about this Carlyle hideaway is that only the rich drink here. The great thing about cougars is that money is irrelevant to them. The great thing about divorces is that they breed cougars. You do the math. ● Cabanas at the Maritime (Meatpacking District) – Cougars love meat and they travel in packs, so the fact that you’ll find them in the Meatpacking District is self-explanatory. And the fact that this island-themed bar resides in a hotel is just lucky. ● 123 Burger Shot Beer (Midtown West) – The opposite of fancy, and that includes the women. Anyone who’s been here knows this place should be renamed 1234 Burger Shot Beer Cougar. ● STK (Meatpacking District) – From Yelp: “The bartenders were nice, and as I was facing them while stuffing my face, we were able to exchange knowing looks when the cougar beside me would lift her breasts and heave them onto the bar while the light reflected on her almost-plastic brown skin as she ordered a dirty, dirty martini.” So yeah. ● Plunge (Meatpacking District) – In the penthouse of the Hotel Gansevoort, Plunge has been code-named “Cougar Central” by, well, me. It’s not very creative, I know, but in terms of accuracy, it can’t be beat. Helpful hint: The pool is off-limits unless you or your cougar are guests. ● Rodeo Bar (Kips Bay) – Question: What is the only thing more cougar than Texas? Answer: A vaguely Texas-themed bar in New York. ● Schiller’s (Lower East Side) – A cougar’s weakness is your strength — it’s called cheap red wine, and this place bleeds it.

See also: Miami cougar dens.
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