Fashion Week Brings Alacran Mezcal, a Willyburg band, and the Cocktail Bodega

With every Tom, Dick, and Harry meeting up with every Betty, Veronica, and Sally to attend Fashion Week events in every club, bar, lounge, restaurant, or alley – the city is in a frenzy. Cabs are impossible to get, and fashion victims seeking out lattes have overrun my favorite coffee shops. I tried watching the Democratic convention for escapist purposes, as I decided long ago who I was voting for. My friend DJ Cassidy is DJing it. Now that’s a big gig. I saw him just a minute ago at Noah Tepperberg’s birthday bash and noticed that somehow his head can still fit into his trademark, seasonal boater (that’s a hat). The Democratic convention is some gig. I can’t complain, as my agency 4AM has me all over the place spewing out my brand of rock and roll. Tomorrow I will DJ at Empire Hotel Rooftop and next week at door-God/actor Wass Steven’s birthday at Avenue, and lots more. It’s so much fun.

They had me out at The Montauk Beach House for the Labor Day Weekend Monday pool party. I played classic surf music and end-of-summer fare while my friends sunbathed by the glorious pool. TMBH is wonderful. We stayed over and the rooms were luscious. I want back.

I attended the super hush-hush private performance by Gary Clark Jr. at The Electric Room. Nur Khan always delivers superb surprises for Fashion Week. Gary is a big deal and Nur was gushing all about him. I love The Electric Room and will attend again real soon for the super, hush-hush performance by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club which is coming up but I can’t tell you about. The Electric Room holds a couple hundred people, and seeing this kind of talent in such an intimate setting is amazing.

Obligations took me far away from the opening of Lil Charlie’s, the sweet spot underneath Ken & Cook. Artan and Karim gave me the $2-dollar tour last week and I was so impressed. They made the place more comfortable than its Travertine incarnation. It looks great and seems to be larger somehow than before. Little Charlie’s Clam Bar was for years the home of the locals of Little Italy. The gentrified neighborhood has lost its charms and has been replaced with high-end boutiques, salons, and restaurants. The use of the name in this context raised my eyebrow, but there isn’t anybody around anymore to understand why. So be it. I think the place is going to be a big hit and I’m going back next week.

I also missed the opening/friends and family of Cocktail Bodega on the corner of Stanton and Chrystie. This opening needs a lot of ink and I’m running out of room today, so I will revisit. I’ll just say it adds considerable light and charm to what was a very dark corner. That little area is becoming hot with The Box sill going strong, and Bantam and other venues developing their brands; I think we all will be spending more time nearby.

I will be at the Alacran Mezcal launch party at the Hotel Americano tonight. Alacran is all over Fashion Week and behind the events at The Out. In a very short time, Arty Dozortov and his team has established the Alacran brand. As avid readers know, I don’t drink…well, I do drink about twice a year, whenever I have sex, and nowadays I’ve forsaken the jamo for Alacran. It’s delicious.

Sunday I will check out Chris Anthony’s shindig at The Grand Victory. Chris was prominent in the nightlife world before he grew up. He has formed a small record label, Jump Ramp Records, and his first project is The Boogie Rock Boy’s, a Willyburg rock/blues/funk act. He has just wrapped their debut LP, a three-track album coming out in vinyl and digital, and this Sunday, in  live audio. The album release will be celebrated along with a couple of other noted local sounds…Delano Groove, Jawaad and Kiva, and DJ Prince Polo.  There’s going to be a BBQ and I’m going to be there. 

9/11’s Impact on New York Nightlife

I still am reeling from the events of this day, 11 years ago. I don’t think about parties and nightlife on this day, as I still well up and have visions and memories of things I heard and saw that day. Those will be within me, just below the surface, forever. This morning, when I read the phone calls made by victims in their last moments, I remembered and cried. It’s a little better this year knowing that Osama is being eaten by creatures of the deep blue sea.

Yesterday’s article about Thefuture.fm has me thinking; a couple of weeks ago I speculated that the public would soon require more from DJs and club operators. Creativity, I said, would be a commodity used to separate one place from another. I believe that we are nearing a very forward time in nightlife. Thefuture.fm will allow the general public to explore different DJs and their varied sounds. Bottle service, often painted as both the sinner and savior of nightlife, has defined the last decade or more. It is not a coincidence that these years follow the fall of the towers. After the attack, we tended to travel with and to the familiar. A S.I.N., safety- in-numbers mentality, divided the club scenes – which used to be very mixed – into specialized or specific venues. White people hung with white people, rockers with rockers, gays with gays, house heads with house heads, and so on. The mixing of ideas became less important and the large clubs faded or became one-dimensional. Places like Tunnel or Palladium, where multiple DJs and a wide spectrum of people gathered in multiple rooms large and small, became extinct.

A few weeks back I offered that we are again ready for this kind of place, although it probably will occur in Greenpoint or someplace outside of Manhattan. Thefuture.fm will expose the consumer to all sorts of new music. People may like it and want more and demand more from nightlife. As for now, the scene is narrow: the DJs at the bottle service clubs offer music which caters to the bottle buyer; Top 40 is not only accepted but demanded, and safe and familiar is the norm. Mixed format might be labeled "safe," format in most cases. The DJs involved are often skilled and entirely capable of doing it and doing it well, but they’re programmed to do a job that requires dumbing down their sets. Their rewards include huge paydays, travel, and glamour. Clubs used to lead the way, not follow or even ride the wave.

I found myself on the rooftop of the Empire Hotel Saturday night for a Fashion Week soiree. I started playing some Elbow and R.L. Burnside and The Heavy and Hanni El Khatib… obscure stuff, to most, that usually rocks. I moved to familiar rock anthems with a bang and then into electro-rock and even threw in some L.L. Cool J… because I was there. Someone asked me for Rihanna, but I didn’t come prepared. The crowd, for the most part, was talking and such. The place is a large, sprawling comfortable spot with a super-friendly staff. I was told I was doing well, that what I was playing was right, but I didn’t know. They seemed to want new or unfamiliar, and I wasn’t going to go to Jay Z or Adele anyway. The guy before me offered Michael Jackson and such and scratched and sniffed as if he expected them to dance or care. They didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t follow his uninspiring lead and want another crack at that crowd. It was fun.

Tomorrow night I will DJ at my boy Wass Stevens’ birthday bash at Avenue. Wass and I have been hanging for decades and have shared some moments good and otherwise. He is acting a lot. He was in that Oliver Stone WTC flick. He owns a tattoo joint which I have to stumble into with a bad idea. He still does the door, still separates the men from the boys, still keeps the place filled with talent. I guess I’ll start with “Born To Be Wild” and go on from there.

New York: Top 10 Cold-Weather Cocktails

imageForget spiked egg nog, pumpkin-based drinks, and all those other seasonal libations. Don’t even think about a chilled beer or frozen concoction unless you plan on spending the night perched over your heater. Instead, head to one of the spots below where the mixologists are whipping up specialty cocktails for sun-deprived-drinkers.

10. Thai chili hot chocolate @ Thom Bar (Soho) – Made with Thailand’s national spirit — Mekhong, which is sort of like a pisco — there’s no hotter way to beat your chills. 9. Wake-Up Call @ Brandy Library (Tribeca) – You could spend all night sifting through the never-ending list of options, but make it easy for yourself and go straight for this warm, aptly named mix of espresso, vanilla vodka, and homemade chocolate and coffee liqueurs. 8. Gingerbread cocktail at Empire Hotel Rooftop (Upper West Side) – The sunny skies may be gone, but the rooftop continues to attract with sweeping views, dim lighting, and a crackling fireplace — all of which are best enjoyed while sipping on their creation made with gingerbread syrup, Ten Cane Rum, apple juice, and lemon.

7. Black currant sake martini at Bond St. (Greenwich Village) – Get your blood pumping with this mix of gin, acai berry liquor, sake, triple sec, and black currant puree. 6. Hot chocolate martini at Gramercy Tavern (Union Square) – The winter equivalent to a summer burger at Shack Shack, Gramercy Tavern’s hot chocolate comes spiked with Stoli Vanilla and amaretto. 5. Woodcock Reserve hot spiced cider at Via dei Mille (Soho) – Forget about any brewing winter storm with this homemade classic. 4. Madame’s preserves and jams at Madame Geneva (Soho) – Skip dessert and indulge in a spoonful of house-made preserves served over Beefeater Gin or 42 Below Vodka — the 18th-century-inspired concoction comes in three varieties: mixed berry & vanilla, orange & green cardamom, and fig & ginger. 3. Whiskey-based hot toddy at Aspen Social (Midtown West) – Only in NYC could you find an Aspen-inspired cabin with this much glitz. 2. Hot buttered rum at Freemans (Lower East Side) – Nothing like warm rum and taxidermy to take away the winter chill. 1. The Randy Toddy at The Randolph (Nolita) – Conjured-up with Sasha Petraske-precision by a decidedly attractive and friendly staff, this enticing libation is made with honey, lemon, Applejack, hot water, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Empire Hotel Renos Complete

imageEmpire Hotel is finally finished with their renovations. The rooftop bar and lounge debuted this summer; last week Center Cut, Jeffery Chodorow’s eco-steakhouse opened to great fanfare. The iconic Upper West Side hotel, with its signature giant red neon sign, was a hot property from the 1920s through the 1960s; proprietors hope that the renovations will help the hotel reclaim its place as a New York institution.

Summer Cocktails: NYC, LA, Miami, Chicago

It’s easy enough to ignore the avalanche of press releases one receives on a daily basis, but there are often gemstones among the rough. For example — a branded “hot list” collection of summer cocktails may be refined and expanded, since it happens to include some our favorite places (and beverages) in four cities nationwide. Check it out, and chillax.

Hennessy Fire-Five, Rooftop Lounge of the Empire Hotel Manhattanites can sip the Hennessy Fire-Five martini while absorbing floor-to-ceiling views of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Central Park, and Lincoln Center. With alleged frequenters such as Kim Cattrall, Kelly Ripa, Jimmy Fallon, Teri Hatcher, A-Rod, Kim Raver, and Lindsay Price, the luxurious rooftop lounge and outdoor patio is the perfect setting to watch a summer evening sunset while sipping perfection.

• 1.5 oz. Hennessy V.S • 0.75 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice • 0.5 oz. agave nectar • 2 dashes Chipotle Tabasco • 1 oz. Moët Brut Champagne Combine all ingredients except champagne; add ice, shake, and strain into a martini glass. Top with champagne, garnish with an aurora pepper.

Ginger Cucumber Martini, Bungalow Club Enjoy this signature cocktail from the scencester Los Angeles nightspot.

• 1 oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur • 3 oz. vodka • 1 oz. triple sec • 1 oz. Lemon and lime juices • 1-2 fresh organic cucumbers • 1-2 lemons Muddle cucumber and lemons; shake with canton, vodka, triple sec, lemon and lime juices. Pour into martini glass. Garnish with sliced cucumber.

Oronoco Rum Mojito, Kobe Club Get wild in the madness of Miami with the Oronoco Rum Mojito; fans reportedly include Jennifer Lopez, Lance Bass, Jamie Foxx, and Maria Bello. Available at Jeffrey Chodorow’s posh Japanese-inspired steakhouse, revelers can mix and mingle at the high-end eatery and enjoy the Miami sunset in the outdoor dining garden.

• 1 oz. Oronoco Rum • 3 fresh-cut lime wedges • 8 fresh-cut mint leaves • 1 tsp. sugar • 2 oz. fresh lime juice • 2 oz. soda water • sugar cane In a tall glass, muddle mint leaves, 2 lime wedges, and sugar. Fill glass with cracked ice. Pour in Oronoco Rum, lime juice, and soda. Stir gently. Garnish with a lime wedge and sugar cane.

Lemonade Martini, Martini Park Make lemonade grown-up style with this Lemonade Martini recipe from Chicago’s Near North Side.

• 1 oz. Bacardi Limón • 0.5 oz. limoncello • 0.5 oz Navan Van Cognac • 1 oz. lemonade • lemon slice Sugar the rim of a martini glass, shake mixture, pour into chilled martini glass, and add a lemon wheel for garnish.

Dark Design: Empire Hotel Rooftop

imageNew York City, like no other, shines through its constant state of flux, through the destruction of historical monuments and the erection of new edifices. This modernist tendency subsides only infrequently under the pitiless pressures of development. Thus the massive neon red-light signs gleaming proudly upon the roof-deck lounge of the Empire Hotel gift the urban dweller with history from the sidewalk and recreation from the bar. (See our gallery of the altitudinous scene.) An express lobby elevator sweeps revelers up to a cascade of interlocking support frames permitting a cultured view of Lincoln Center across the way.

Sir Thomas More believed that human nature could withstand the harshly varying impositions of the seasons — that a sound connectivity with mankind would drive one through the harsh winds of hypocrisy, beyond the hot humidity of subterfuge in summer … well, you get the drift. He suggested we all should be men “for all seasons.” The Empire Hotel Rooftop is a space for all seasons.

That the massive eastern terrace was carefully preserved while integrating cabana and bar is testament to designer Chris Kofitsas’ sense of historicity. The neon lights reflect off adjacent facades to project a powerful feeling of continuity. Without the overly conscious effort seen in most lighting schemes, the signs provide a quiet glow upon loungers. Moreover, a clever wrapped-glass bar oozes out of the support structure to offer truss, beam, crossbar, and booze.

The most impressive though seemingly misplaced furniture concoction stands at the entrance and central bar: “There are over 13,000 concentric pipes in various diameters, cut at the center and glued together into 3” lengths that make up the bar face,” says Kofitsas. This eccentricity beams in contrast to the understated and somewhat flaccid flexibility of the other comfy components. Sir T. More would have appreciated that less is more.

Most adaptively, and consistent with a 365-day-a-year body and soul, a clever HVAC and retractable roof system transforms the western terrace. The Roll-a-Cover system is “built in track with wheels along the base of each panel segment that allows the panels to slide over each other and offer 80% open-air environment, which is perfect for sipping martinis on a starry night.” The massive solar gain of the interior space on a warm day is compensated for not only by AC but by a super-fine mister built within the conduits, which serves to level the elements. Oh yes, here humanity’s party may persist uninterrupted.

From Lincoln Center, we peer back in delight at the prodigious signage that withstands the wildly wandering atmospheric spirals of the city. Let us pray to our humanist Gods that the fickle city we live in veers not toward signage demolition. Let’s hope that this Empire epitomizes not the vicissitudes of Henry VIII, who ultimately came down upon his trusted advisor, Thomas More, summarily cutting off his head.