Midnight Mixologists: Damian Windsor’s Toplist

This Australian-born spirit master knows how to shake things up. Damian Windsor is swiftly becoming the go-to guy for the freshest and most unique cocktails, serving up one-of-a-kind drinks at the hottest spots in town. Currently, you can find him concocting his creations at West Hollywood speakeasy The Roger Room, where he consistently puts his spin on classic cocktails. Not only is Windsor making a name for himself behind the bar, but he is also the co-founder of For Medical Purposes, a consulting company that helps restaurants and bars improve their mixology. Windsor is pouring himself to the top, one drink at a time. Check out Damian’s Windsor’s favorite spots to grab a cocktail in L.A.

The Roger RoomEl CarmenJones HollywoodThe VarnishProvidenceTiki TiBuffalo ClubThe Rainbow Bar & GrillTonga Hut

See more Midnight Mixologists toplists here.

Industry Insiders: Lindsay Lebby, Arcade Games

Lindsay Lebby knows a thing or two about the needs of stylish LA women. She’s the director of Arcade Boutique, the West Hollywood one-stop shop for all things designer, and along with boutique owner Rochelle Gores, Lebby and the Arcade crew are making sure that every chic-loving girl in town knows about their fashion Mecca. More after the jump on accommodating celebs, the new in-demand website, and cleaning out your closet to get the perfect new look.

Retail on the brain: I’ve been in the retail industry pretty much my whole life. In high school and in college, I worked at little boutiques and managed stores. I briefly moved to New York, where I worked for Intermix , and I was brought back by Guess. There, I managed the retail marketing department for North America. It was quite a bit of travel and it was managing the day-to-day dealings of over 400 Guess stores. I met Rochelle shortly after moving back from New York. We hit it off right away and became very good friends. I helped her out when she opened her store, spent a lot of time there, and then we just kind of had an a-ha moment where something clicked between us.

On the day to day: My days here involve everything from overseeing all aspects of the sales floor and the sales associates to marketing and working every single day on ways to grow business. We just recently launched ArcadeBoutique.com, which has been a huge focus of mine.

On building the site: The whole process took about three to four months total. Researching everything and coming up with all the strategies of how we wanted the site to look, feel, and work. We had the site programmed specifically for Arcade. It was built by an amazing programmer and graphic designer and customized to our business and exactly how we wanted it to function for the customer. It’s working out very well so far. It’s only been a little over a month, but there’s definitely a buzz developing around it and it allows us to really take our West Hollywood store and offer it nation-wide to customers.

On the Arcade aesthetic: The aesthetic here was a vision of Rochelle’s. It’s modeled after 19th century European shopping malls, which were called arcades. The look and feel of our store feels very much like if you walked into a Parisian arcade. Our style is always a very feminine, very chic, classically sexy style. We reflect that in all of the products we buy, the lines we carry, and it’s really the same style and offerings that we have at ArcadeBoutique.com.

Store Faves: My favorites are Yigal Azrouel, as well as Kimberly Ovitz, who is a fairly new designer based out of L.A. Preen is another great British collection that we carry. Anita Co. Jewelry is a staple at Arcade. Doo.Ri and Barbara Bui. And we are one of the only stores in Los Angeles that sells Barbara Bui.

On personal shopping services: We try to set ourselves apart with an exceptional level of customer service. We can do anything our client needs, whether it is show up at their hotel room with a cocktail dress for a party in an hour, going to their home to clean out their closet and figure out the missing pieces they need in their wardrobe, and then tie that back to Arcade and style them. The clients we work with are fantastic and nothing over the top or real crazy has happened on one of those house calls. They have to have a relationship with us where they really trust our taste level and our own style as well as the style of the store in order for them to want and allow us to do that.

New York vs LA fashion: In New York, fashion is much more influenced by the season, where in LA, you dress the same because our weather doesn’t change very drastically. For me, the difference is that in the summer in New York it’s so hot and you’re wearing clothes that are comfortable and breathable, and you can get in the subway wearing. And then the winter is layers, coats, and cold weather accessories. Here, we’re really lucky to have beautiful weather all the time; it’s not really super cold or hot, and the lifestyle in general is more casual. At Arcade, our style reflects that women should always be feminine and chic and dressed even if you’re just going to a casual lunch with your girlfriend—really being outfitted and put together in a feminine way. I often wear jeans and a t-shirt but I’ll throw on a big statement necklace so the outfit looks completed. I wear heels. Even if I’m in jeans to go to lunch, I probably have on a wedge. I’m always accessorized.

Tips for effortless dressing: I’d say it’s really important to wear what you’re comfortable in, and that’s how you make it look effortless. It’s really important to read a customer’s own style, comfort level, and body image so that you can style them and dress them in a way that they feel good about themselves. If you put someone in something that looks fantastic on them to an outsider, but they’re not comfortable, they aren’t going to appear effortless.

On celeb clientele: In L.A. you get used to seeing the celebrities and it’s a delicate balance between treating them like a V.I.P and making them feel comfortable. It’s also offering them a certain level of privacy. We have a lot of celebrity clients that no one would ever read about because we make sure that their shopping trips are kept private and personal rather than photographed and exploited.

Most coveted piece for fall: Pieces I always, always covet for every season are Yigal Azrouel dresses. The way his dresses fit a woman’s body is unbelievable. You can put on any of his dresses and instantly feel special, sexy, and confident. I love his dresses for every season.

Go-tos: My favorite restaurant is Terroni, great food and music. My friends and I go there for long girl’s dinners. For a quiet dinner, Pace in Laurel Canyon is delicious and has an extensive wine list. The bar I enjoy most is Bronson Bar on Monday nights. I also like to get spicy margaritas and tortilla soup at El Carmen. I always love to go to Chateau Marmont. Any day or time this gorgeous, historic hotel makes me happy.

Industry Insiders: Med Abrous, Mile-High Mover

Thompson Hotels’ director of promotions and entertainment Med Abrous, on his once-in-a-lifetime guest performance with Prince, bringing movie night to clubs and the bright side of the bottle-service decline.

What’s the best night you’ve ever had at one of your venues? A little over a year ago, I put together some concerts in the Roosevelt Ballroom for Prince. He performed six shows for about 300 people per show. It was so intimate, and he put on such an amazing show. During the third show, I’m sitting with a group of people — the crowd was almost more famous than he was, which is really weird — and he starts playing this riff, then calls my name and says, “Yo Med! Get up here.” So I get up onstage with Prince, and he’s playing “Play that Funky Music White Boy,” and I basically sing onstage with him playing backup guitar. It was amazing. I have a picture to prove it because it sounds like such a tall tale. I think that was pretty much the highlight of my life.

Was your performance any good? You know what? I have moves. I’ve really got moves. I was even doing mic stand tricks; I was milking it. Can I sing? Not really. But I put on a show — I was very entertaining. It didn’t help that I didn’t know all the words, but he was helping me out a little bit. It was one of those things where it’s like, okay, try to top this.

How many Thompson properties are you responsible for? I’m based out in LA right now, and I take care of all the front-of-house stuff for the Tropicana Bar, Teddy’s, Above Beverley Hills, and our new property Above Allen, which I’m really excited about. I’m responsible for programming the music, hiring the DJs, hiring promoters where they’re needed, and coming up with creative ideas to drive business.

How did you get into the hotel business? While I was going to Parsons, a lot of my friends were DJs and into nightlife, so to make some extra money I started throwing parties, and I got pretty good at it. I’ve always been interested in hotels, and even though I run the bars, it’s really all-encompassing because bars can be very much one-note, while hotels are multifaceted and have a more interesting operation. Jason Pomeranc, who owns the Thompson Group, was a good friend of mine — we had some mutual friends — and he hired me to do the Tropicana Bar, then we started to do Teddy’s and … voila! Who do you admire in the industry? I think somebody who’s really done it right is Sean MacPherson. He seems to have a great sensibility and great sense of timing for all the places he’s opened. I really respect his work — he’s got a ton of places, including The Bowery Hotel, Swingers, and a great tequila bar called El Carmen in LA. They’re places that last because he makes them accessible and not too exclusive. He delivers a great product with great service and a cool aesthetic. I would definitely use his career as a model.

What’s the best part of your job? I actually enjoy the creativity behind coming up with different concepts that people would like. For instance, in the summertime at the Roosevelt’s Tropicana Bar, which is kind of an oasis inside Hollywood, on Sunday or Monday we’re going to be doing movie nights. We will have different people curate the movies, and we’re building special menus with truffle popcorn, colby hotdogs, etc. It’ll be a night when people don’t necessarily want to go out and rage, but they’ll go and see a movie in a bar. Finding different ways to find revenue is something I really enjoy. The second thing is that I actually genuinely like people. Some people in this business actually don’t, but I tend to get along with people and enjoy most of their company.

You’re a bi-coastal boy. Where do you hang out when you’re in New York? I love to eat. I’m a closet foodie, so I have some go-to restaurants whenever I come to New York. I love Frankie’s in Brooklyn on Court Street, and I’m always discovering new places like Inoteca, which I really like. Frank, I’ve been going to forever on 2nd Avenue and the Corner Bistro to get my Bistro burger on — it’s the world’s greatest burger. In terms of bars, it all depends on what neighborhood I’m in, but there are a lot of great bars on the LES (besides Above Allen, of course) like Pianos and a lot of little local joints. But having a lot of friends in the business means that I have friends who own bars, so when I’m in New York, I usually do the rounds of all my friends’ bars, like 3 Steps on 18th Street, and then the bigger, popular spots also.

And in LA? In LA, the closest bar to me is the Chateau Marmont, so I like going there — the Bar Marmont is really great. There’s also been an emergence of a lot of really cool dive bars like The Woods, El Carmen, and Bar Lubitsch that I enjoy.

Which of your bars do you spend the most time at? Teddy’s. It’s kind of like my baby. It’s something that I work really hard on and has managed to stay successful for a long time. It’s a great space. In LA, a lot of places tend to be really slick and overdesigned, but Dodd Mitchell designed this space, and it really has a lot of character. The Roosevelt is already a historical landmark, and the design really lends itself to that. It has kind of a wine cave kind of feeling — it’s dark and comfortable — and we have great staff, great service, and it’s become kind of like Cheers, where people know each other and know that there will always be a good crowd and great music. We have great DJs that we always rotate, in addition to live music, so it’s become almost an institution at this point.

What positive trends do you see in the hospitality industry? Well, it’s more of a reality and not a trend, but the state of our economy is forcing us to do things differently and more efficiently. I think it’s actually a good thing that for the first time in a long time. People are going to actually have to live within their means. People are really tightening up their belts and trying to find interesting ways to still be successful in this economy. Bottle service, for example, is starting to fizzle, which I think actually has a good effect in the long run. I remember when bottle service first started; I was talking to Steve Lewis about this earlier. I remember that Life was one of the first places that people actually didn’t have to be cool to get in … they didn’t have to be artists anymore. And all of a sudden the investment bankers and hedge fund guys could come in and buy bottles and be in an exclusive place, and I think it hurt nightlife in a huge way. Now, with those people not spending as much money, and bottle service not being as prevalent in New York especially, I think it’s coming back to cool people coming together. Artists, etc. People who didn’t necessarily have money before the crash, and can still go out. I think that’s had a positive effect on nightlife.

Where do you see yourself in the future? I think the natural progression of things is to open my own place, but I’d definitely like to be in the hospitality business. I’d love to start with a small hotel and see what happens.

What are you doing tonight? I’m going to my parents’ house and having a home-cooked meal.

Our Tribute to ‘Blue Velvet’ Starring Emily Blunt

“I adore film noir style,” says actress Emily Blunt, shown here in the role of Dorothy Vallens, the tragic femme fatale in cult auteur David Lynch’s 1986 opus Blue Velvet. The kinkfest classic turned Isabella Rossellini into an icon, while pushing noir convention into the shadows of dangerously surreal Americana. “Blue Velvet is so dark and ethereal,” says Blunt. “It’s brooding yet artistic—I love it.”

Best known for her comedic roles—like a star-making breakthrough performance in The Devil Wears Prada—Blunt had no problem channeling Rossellini’s smoky, knife-edge carnality. At the same time, the 25-year-old London native put her own wicked spin on the sexy transformation. A week later, she’s still buzzing about the results.

“The shoot was definitely glamorous,” Blunt explains by phone from her family’s home in London. “Becoming that character was incredible: it was more like acting than just doing another photo shoot.” Blunt has been plumbing emotional and psychological depths for some time, beginning with a role that first brought her fame in the U.K., a gripping turn as Tamsin, the sapphic teen antagonist at the core of the 2004 indie hit My Summer of Love.

“There’s a darker side to all of us, and people choose to explore it or not. Taboo love affairs are the most fun, aren’t they? We’ve all casually hurt someone, then looked back and regretted it. Or not, in the case of some people,” says Blunt, who recently split from singer Michael Bublé. “Playing ‘baddies’ is just more fun playing than ‘goodies.’ ”

That she even made it this far still surprises Blunt, who says she got into acting only as a last-ditch therapy for a childhood stutter. “It was an anguished disability—not fun,” she recalls. “But I overcame it.” At age 12, while playing a character from Northern England, with an accent completely different from her own, Blunt found her stutter magically disappear. “In acting, I could be someone else and escape being a child who doesn’t talk,” she recalls. “It became an out-of-body experience.”

Years later, she tapped into a similar sense of the surreal with the attention that followed her Prada breakout. “That film opened so many doors,” she says. “I wasn’t pigeonholed as the corset-bound, bonnet-wearing English period film girl. I’d rather be brave and make a choice that frightens me a bit. I don’t mind looking like a wanker: I mean, that character was on the edge of fashion—and had really keeled off it.”

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On the topic of personal style, Blunt fesses up to past fashion missteps. “I’ve had so many style blunders!” she says, laughing. These days, Blunt gathers expert advice so that she’s not busted on the red carpet. “You literally have to pry the baggy sweaters off me, but I am trying to discover life away from my Converse sneakers,” she says. “I have a great stylist who’s always encouraging me to be more fashion forward, but I’m always afraid that she’ll send me down the carpet in an ice sculpture or something.”

When it comes to Blunt’s most un-forward fashion moments on film, nothing could be further from bling than her upcoming turn as a chronically depressed trailer-park pothead in the indie tragicomedy Sunshine Cleaning, due out shortly. “For The Devil Wears Prada, we had to diet like crazy,” Blunt explains. “But for Sunshine, I put on a bit of weight, and I didn’t allow myself to see any sun. We certainly look rather pale and drawn, and the clothes were shabby: no one wore anything more expensive than, like, five dollars. Amy [Adams, Blunt’s Sunshine co-star] and I were pretty tough about looking real. We couldn’t look glamorous, as it was an authentic family we were creating.”

According to Adams, she and Blunt bonded like siblings. “People always thought that we were up to something!” Adams admits. Off-set shenanigans, however, mostly involved carbohydrates, Middle-American style—so much for any actual overlap with Blunt’s Prada fashion victim who’d faint if she didn’t eat her minuscule cube of cheese. “We went to the mall a lot, where I introduced her to Aunt Annie’s pretzels,” Adams confesses. “Emily became quite addicted to those.”

The friendship between Blunt and Adams continues to this day, but not without a speed bump or two, thanks to Blunt’s lacerating wit. “That English thing where they really rip on you but you still think it’s charming? Emily’s got it in spades,” Adams claims. “I don’t have international calling on my cell phone, but I can text. So if she calls me when I’m out of the country, I’ll text her to call me back. When she does, she’s like, ‘Cheap slut!’”

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Despite the fact that Blunt’s character in Sunshine Cleaning—Norah Lorkowski, an uneducated, career-averse, inarticulate American slacker—comes from a background so different from her own, Blunt still found a way in. “Norah is just yearning; those characters are always the best ones to play, because there’s a sense of turmoil in their desire for… ” Blunt pauses for a second. You can practically hear the gears whirring in her quick-moving brain until she finds the word that expresses exactly what she means: “More. They desire more.”

Life as an ascendant actor inevitably involves hanging out in Hollywood, a very different landscape from Blunt’s perennially cold, damp Britain. “English people have a faux snobbery towards L.A.,” Blunt exclaims. “It’s bullshit! Trust me, we all secretly love it!” Indeed, when in Los Angeles—which is, of course, often—Blunt loves the understated glam of the Little Door, the sexily noir-ish Mexican joint El Carmen, the foodie small bites and big wines at A.O.C. and the cool jazz sounds of the Green Door. “L.A. is a very seductive place,” she says. “If you have friends and cafés, you can survive here.” And if Blunt develops any Brit homesickness, there’s always the King’s Head Pub in Santa Monica: “It’s fantastic—they’ve recreated a true pub very well, even in the balmy tropical weather.”

Blunt’s upcoming roles prove about as incongruous as a classic British pub by the California coast. Her next two parts split the difference between her comedic and dramatic talents. She plays a neurotic publicist in The Great Buck Howard (a labor of love for Tom Hanks, with whom Blunt had a memorably naughty, Clinton-esque clinch in Charlie Wilson’s War). In The Wolf Man, she’s a mourning lover alongside Benicio del Toro in a big-budget, Gothic extravaganza. According to Blunt, she had to “resign herself to a corset” to be authentic to her Wolf Man character: “I had to run and scream while wearing it! But it helps your posture, and certainly makes your boobs look fantastic. My internal organs now loathe me, however, so it might be good to do something in jeans and T-shirts. After all, I don’t want to be typecast as the ‘English rose’—that’s boring, isn’t it?”

Nothing is more English than one of Blunt’s most anticipated upcoming projects: She stars as the youthful Queen of England herself in The Young Victoria. It’s a prize for any actor, and Blunt knows it—she calls it “one of the greatest love stories. You know you’ve made it as a British actress if you’re asked to play a British monarch.”

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Photography by Patrick Fraser, styling by Shirley Kurata.

Straight Up: Sean MacPherson

pf_main_seanmcph.jpg Sean MacPherson and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore must use the same beauty treatment. Both have the gangly strides and the “dude” demeanor of a Valley teenager, and the energy of a golden retriever. “It’s taxidermy,” says MacPherson, who we caught up with while he galloped on a treadmill in Manhattan. “I’m pickled in alcohol.”

The bi-coastal MacPherson, 42, fresh off the success of the West Village’s Waverly Inn—which he co-owns with longtime business partner Eric Goode—recently opened Bar Lubitsch in Hollywood, a Russian-themed vodka emporium. The Mao-red space has already become the hot ticket for a subtly-chic tribe of Angelenos who aren’t looking for a trendy, micro-mini-wearing set, but are looking for a sophisticated outpost to chill in (with 200 vodkas behind the bar). No surprise that his partner, Jared Meisler, managed cool-and-collected Bar Marmont when MacPherson owned that hot property too. In Los Angeles, MacPherson still presides over the enduring Swingers, the Mexican cantina El Carmen, and the accommodating Jones. In New York, he co-owns The Park, the Maritime Hotel, and together with Goode, he’s just opened two new boutique hotels, the posh former brothel Lafayette House (where Ross Bleckner and Julian Schnabel have been doing time), as well as the antiques-crammed, architectural salvage outpost that is the 135-room Bowery Hotel.

Growing up “between Malibu and Mexico,” MacPherson may have picked up a little of both place’s laissez-faire vibes. “I’ve worked my whole life,” he says, “but I’ve never had a job.”