The Veils Unveil New Songs At Last Night’s Hush-Hush Rose Bar Sessions

The Veils – otherwise known as That Indie Rock Band From London Who Shamelessly Performs Like Their Possessed – hit NYC last night, performing a slew of new songs at the very hush-hush Rose Bar Sessions – Rose Bar’s secret show inside the Gramercy Park Hotel for a hand-picked 100 people who are generally very good-looking, successful, entrepreneurial, and artistic. Brandy was there (photo evidence here.) 

The performance comes just days since the release of their 4th and latest album Time Stays, We Go, and spotlighted their single "Through The Deep, Dark Wood," which is deep…dark… and absolutely rocking. Rose Bar’s tiny stage was lit in sea-blue light, and lead singer/songwriter Finn Andrews wore his signature fedora and played the drums while drummer Raife Burchell played them too. Why am I telling you this? Just watch the 22-second video of their concert and get on with it already.

Get the inside-scoop on Rose Bar, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

BlackBook Tracks #12: Acts To See at Fashion’s Night Out NYC

It’s Fashion’s Night Out, which for some people, might be the best day of the year (just call it Treat Yo Self 2012). Special deals, limited edition gear, and complimentary drinks and snacks abound. If you’re in NYC, here are some options for music to see around town.

Theophilus London – “Last Name London”

Check out the ever-stylish rapper/Cole Haan collaborator at the Gramercy Park Hotel.

 

Azealia Banks – “1991”

If you weren’t lucky enough to catch her at Spin’s Fashion Week party last night, Yung Rapunxel will be appearing at the MAC store in Soho, presumably to support their new lipstick collaboration.

 

Icona Pop – “Sun Goes Down”

Rising Swedish duo Icona Pop will be bringing their non-stop energy to no less than four appearances tonight. They’ll be DJing at Helmut Lang in Soho, AllSaints in the Meatpacking District, and Mister H at the Mondrian Soho, as well as fitting in a live performance for Urban Outfitters.

 

Poolside – “Only Everything”

Dreams take flight in the new video for Poolside’s single “Only Everything,” their latest slice of chilled-out disco. Catch up on BlackBook’s Q&A with the LA-based duo and check them out tonight at 8 at Moods of Norway in Soho.

 

St. Vincent – “Champagne Year”

Sweet-voiced songwriter St. Vincent always has great style, so it’s no surprise that Rag & Bone are bringing her to their party. Here’s her song “Champagne Year” for a champagne night.

 

Frankie Rose – “Know Me”

The veteran member of Vivian Girls/Dum Dum Girls will take her darker solo project to Theory in the Meatpacking District.

 

Chairlift – “I Belong In Your Arms” (Japanese Version)

Synth-pop darlings Chairlift will be performing at Prada’s party in Soho. This is also sure to be a popular one.

 

Haim – “Forever”

LA rockers Haim have been working their way up for years, and they’re now undeniably buzzworthy. They’ll be playing at Topshop tonight.

 

Wild Belle – “Keep You”

Sibling duo Wild Belle will be bringing their dark pop sound to Mulberry in Soho. If you don’t get to see them tonight, you can always try to see their session at Le Baron next week.

 

POP ETC – “Live It Up”

The reinvented Morning Benders will be lending their weirdo R&B vibes to Morgane Le Fay’s event in Soho.

Industry Insiders: Elizabeth Mao, Park Place

As general manager of New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel, Elizabeth Mao appreciates her job from the moment she walks in the door each day. "What I love most is that every morning I am greeted by the bright smiles of our doormen, and I walk into our stunning lobby with a crackling fire and original works by Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Fernando Botero," she says. "What could be better than that?"

It’s a suitably artistic career for someone with such a creative background. The Long Island, New York native originally trained to be a professional dancer, performing as an understudy with Shen Wei Dance Arts and taking classes at Trisha Brown’s and Merce Cunningham’s studios. The need for a day job led her to a front desk assignment at 60 Thompson, where she caught the hotel bug and worked her way up to general manager, preparing her for the responsibilities she shoulders today.

These are exciting times to be at the Gramercy Park Hotel, she says, as it’s being upgraded to ensure that it remains one of the city’s top hotels. "We have made subtle, yet tangible, meaningful improvements to our guest rooms, and we are renovating much of Gramercy Terrace," she says. "With an expanded kitchen, Danny Meyer’s team will continue to provide a superior culinary experience." 

The renovation even extends to attire. "We are outfitting the entire hotel staff with new uniforms, in order to keep the look fresh, crisp, and modern," she explains. "Sophie Theallet has designed stunning dresses for our cocktail waitresses, and they are gorgeous." 

Where did you grow up, and what were some of your interests as a kid?
I grew up on Long Island, in Port Washington, specifically.  My father worked as a commodities trader and was based in the World Trade Center for a number of years.  I have fond memories of visiting him there as a small child.  I remember looking up at these enormous structures reaching into the clouds, and feeling an overwhelming sense of opportunity and excitement.  I begged my parents to take me into “the city” at every opportunity, and for as long as I can remember I wanted to move out of the suburbs and into Manhattan. As a kid my sister and I were involved in countless activities.  She spent the evenings at soccer and lacrosse practice while I had dance class at least three times per week.  In high school she was on multiple sports teams, I was captain of the kickline, and we were both members of multiple clubs. I attended Cornell University and studied psychology and modern dance, and I ended up in the hotel business.  She went to Rochester University to study psychology and is now getting her PhD in counseling psychology at Columbia.  I could not possibly be more proud of my little sis.   
 
How did you wind up at the Gramercy Park Hotel?
After Cornell I moved to Manhattan, where I shared a tiny apartment on St. Marks Place with a friend.  I was an understudy with Shen Wei Dance Arts, and I was entirely focused on pursuing a career as a modern dancer.  I had just come back from a summer at ADF, the American Dance Festival, where I was fortunate enough to perform repertory works with Ming Yang and John Jasperse. As a starving artist I, of course, needed a day job. I wound up taking a job as a front desk agent at the recently opened 60 Thompson hotel. Over the next number of years I moved up through the ranks in the hotel business, and gave up the dance career.  One of the things I love about the hotel business is that it is one of the few remaining industries where you can truly work your way up the ladder.  I did my time working the overnight shift behind the front desk, I relocated to Miami for two years when the opportunity to become front desk manager came up, I worked in sales, and I trained in housekeeping.  Eventually I became general manager of the same hotel where I had started as a desk agent years ago.  Now the Gramercy Park Hotel is my fifth General Manager assignment. I am absolutely thrilled to oversee the Gramercy Park Hotel, as I have been utterly enamored by the property since it re-opened five years ago.  I remember visiting while I was working elsewhere and being stricken with a case of hotel envy.  From the moment I first entered the lobby I knew I belonged here.  There is simply no other hotel in New York that is as magical as the Gramercy Park Hotel. 
 
What are you doing now? What is an average day like for you, if there is such a thing as an average day?
My job title is general manager, which means that I oversee the operation of the Gramercy Park Hotel.  My average day starts when my alarm rings and I pull up the daily reports that the night manager provides via email.  I quickly review our financial performance from the night before, as well as the managers’ logs of any notable occurrences.  This gives me a snapshot of what happened in the hotel in the last 24 hours.  Then at 9am  I gather my managers for a daily morning meeting where we review the plan for the day, including all guests due to check in that day and any special requests they may have.  After that, every day is different.
 
Do you have any funny or interesting anecdotes that have happened while on the job? Any celebrity stories, or guests-gone-wild incidents?
I most certainly do, but in my job you learn to be discrete.

Color Your World: Our Top Five Art Hotels

There’s something to be said about surrounding yourself with great works of art. Take advantage of the fact that more and more hotels understand this, and are eschewing the generic sunset watercolor that’s long been a hotel staple, for more refined pieces. Here are the top five hotels who take art seriously. 

If you dream about Renaissance elegance: The Rome Cavalieri, owned by Waldof Astoria, sits perched over the hills of Rome, and while it plays up the palatial atmostphere, it’s the $700 million dollar art collection that will truly have you feeling royal. Works from the old masters abound, from the lobby to the spa. But things get more modern with Andy Warhol originals adorning some of  the rooms.

If you wish you could dive into a David Hockney: Popular with both Los Angeles natives and those looking for a quick SoCal weekend escape, Shutters on the Beach has a lot to recommend: the prime Santa Monica real estate has easy access to the beach and the pier, as well as an award-winning restaurant serving fresh California cuisine. But it’s the all-American art collection, including luminaries like Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Frank Gehry, that really gives the property a sense of style, as well as a sense of place.

If you’re sad you missed out on the Chelsea Hotel’s glory days: The New York art scene has always been transient in nature, with talent coming to feed off the city’s creativity. So it makes sense to capture that spirit in hotel form. Ian Schrager’s Gramercy Park Hotel was designed by artist Julian Schnabel (himself a fixture on the downtown art scene) and is adorned with pieces from provocateurs like Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Richard Prince, as well as serving as a clubhouse for the new class of creative types and those who love them.

If you wish you could do contemporary art like a Chinese mogul: Design in Hong Kong is an integral part of the city’s fabric, from the attention paid to feng shui in the business district, to the museums and public art that have grown along with the city’s presence on the international art circuit. Hotels have followed suit, creating art and design-focused hotels from the small (like the boutique Upper House, centered around Hiroshiwata Sawada’s atrium piece, “Rise”) to the Langham Palace Mongkok, a massive 42-floor tower housing more than 1,500 pieces of contemporary art—there’s a free iPod tour to help you work your way through the collection as you move about the hotel.

If you’d rather step inside the artist’s studio: The James Chicago has fostered local artistic talent since it opened about a year ago, with works like the wall installation by Demarcus Purham in the lobby, and the installation “Room 28” by Joel Ross in the permanent collection. They’ve also been collaborating with the Monique Meloche Gallery to find work to rotate through the hotel’s other public spaces. Most recently, that was done through an artist-in-residence program, where five young artists competed against each other to come up with a work for the hotel’s collection. Winner Kristina Estell took the mandate to find inspiration in the hotel literally, sealing leaves from the hotel’s shrubbery in tape, and incorporating them into a work between two panes of glass.

The Gramercy Park Hotel Is Doing Just Fine Without Ian Schrager, Thank You

Back in 2006, when Ian Schrager reopened New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel to much acclaim and a parade of celebrity guests, he left behind the specters of the former owners, the Weissberg family, whose string of tragedies culminated in scion David jumping from the roof to his death. Now Schrager, who still casts an apparitional shadow over his many previous ventures, has moved on, leaving the hotel to find a way forward on its own considerable merits. Hoping to get an inside take on the future of the Gramercy, I caught up with GM Scott Koster on a recent afternoon in the Rose Bar, which, it must be said, looks startlingly different at 3pm than it does at 3am.

“We talk a lot about when a hotel reaches iconic stature,” Koster explained. “There are a lot of people that take what Ian Schrager and Julian Schnabel created here and try to recreate it somewhere else. But there’s something intrinsic here that you can’t just replicate. Design alone does not make a facility; at Gramercy Park Hotel we’ve been able to maintain an ethos. At this point, you’d have to work to mess it up.”

Indeed, disguising myself as a guest, I found it remarkable how perfected the culture of the second generation Gramercy has become. From an almost pastoral breakfast on the Terrace to a buzzy lunch at Maialino to evening cocktails in the Jade and Rose Bars, it was clear that the hotel isn’t making any rash, ill-advised changes in an attempt to shake off Schrager’s influence. In fact, Maialino, Danny Meyer’s sophisticated but remarkably inviting Roman style trattoria, which opened in late 2009 (replacing the haughty Wakiya), may have already become the touchstone for a new era for the GPH.

Koster agreed. “We want [the Gramercy] to be a true New York experience. And to do that, you have to be involved in the community. What Danny Meyer and Maialino did was to cement that. I think it put us into the fabric of the neighborhood,” he said.

Damion Luaiye remains as Creative Director, but nightlife impresario and celeb-magnet Nur Khan has departed, with Sebastien Lefavre now brought over from GoldBar to oversee the hotel’s considerable nocturnal goings on. Also on the way is a new bar setup on the roof, which Koster hopes will create a more seamless flow of buzz throughout the public spaces.

“We want the Terrace and the Rose Bar to feed off of each other,” he further explained. “Being inclusive rather than exclusive is really the direction we’re going in. Not to say that the Rose Bar is not going to remain one of the most difficult reservations to get; it always will be.”

So, moving on from the era of Ian Schrager has not been too difficult, even though his and Schnabel’s touch still permeates the space. Indeed, the Gramercy Park Hotel in some ways feels more like an extravagant Florentine Renaissance palazzo than a hip New York hotel.

“He is an amazing visionary,” Koster observed of Schrager. “But once a hotel is created, the people who are running it help give it a life of its own. While he gave birth to it, eventually it does become its own entity.”

New York Hotel Social: A Twitter Directory

Hotels must offer guests not only the best hospitality money can buy, but the best technology on the market, too. Hotels shape a neighborhood — so their Twitter accounts should interact with life beyond the lobby (and with the Twitter Universe, of course). Whether offering discounts on hotel suites, an extra hotel help-line, or party-crashing pictures, these New York-based hotel Twitter accounts are a few of our favorite follows.

Tribeca Grand @TribecaGrandNYC By far our favorite social hotel, thanks to their fun and informative Grandlife blog and support from Twitter people about town. Staff like @StevenRojas, Grandlife’s social media guru, @TommySaleh , Creative Director of Tribeca/Soho Grand Hotels, Cinema, and Gallery, and @yadiramartinez , Director of Food & Beverage of Soho and Tribeca Grand Hotels, keep it interesting. Tweets are nightlife-y and insidery, like this behind-the-scenes status: “At Tribeca Grand Hotel ready to put on a great show for #TribecaFilmFestival! Werk;) http://t.co/YeIu4Ex

Hotel Giraffe @HotelGiraffe Pretty basic presence—”Hope everyone had a Happy Easter!”—and links to press are common, but every once in a while, you’ll get an image of Carrie Bradshaw kissing Big on their terrace.

Library Hotel @LibraryHotel Neighborhood-y Tweets talk about Bryant Park (a lot), and what’s going on via different events calendars, but they’re way too reliant on their Facebook page to do any real interacting.

Mondrian SoHo @MondrianSoHo They’ve only just opened in NYC, so they may be more concerned with operating as a hotel before they focus on Tweeting, but they happen to be doing a great job interacting with costumers and partiers already. Just look at all those @’s and inside-joke #’s! “We had a great time with @MalandrinoBuzz & @LACOSTE at the @papermagazine party in the Garden last night! #puckerup #kissingcrocs.” You can also check out @morganshotels for Tweets from the entire hotel group, but it’s not as good as Mondrian’s local shout outs.

Nu Hotel @nuhotel Good for social media specials (“coming to stay with us? Check in on Facebook and Foursquare to earn free drinks!! Local?? Come check us out at NU BAR! :D”), these guys even have special rates for Facebook and Twitter followers.

Gramercy Park Hotel @GPHhotel Their Tweets are simple, but they have a really sexy voice (“How many little Black Books out there contain your name? We know ours is in at least one. http://ow.ly/4B3U4”) that perfectly captures the hotel’s atmosphere.

Distrikt Hotel @distrikthotel Their Twitter works as a hotel help line and as a virtual concierge.

Flatotel @flatotel Heaven knows who’s running their Twitter, but it’s obviously someone who likes a good deal! Sample Tweet: “All Aboard! WIN 2 tickets to Anything Goes & an overnight stay with our #Broadway Hotel Package at Flatotel on Facebook! http://goo.gl/G2TI6.”

The Setai Fifth Avenue @setaififthave Sky-scraping condo/super-lux hotel is actually a hoot on the Tweet deck. Behind-the-scenes of the property (So pleased to welcome the crew from @bravotv to the hotel today, taping some “Mad Fashion!”) mixed with a lot of potential, current, and former guest interaction.

Hotel ‘Hood: A Snapshot of Gramercy Park Hotel

A simple postage stamp-size photo of a hotel room cannot possibly forecast the sort of experience you’ll actually have there. What sorts of treasures, sights, and smells lie within and around the hotel? It’s about the neighborhood. The food. The lighting. And in the case of the Gramercy Park Hotel, the people and the wonderful, old world opulence and glamor represented in its every detail. From the velvet curtains and the outsize art in its massive hall, to its historical block and landscaped grounds, here’s a snapshot of Gramercy Park’s finest offerings.

image The Neighborhood The block Gramercy Park Hotel is situated on is quiet and tree-lined. It’s mostly residential, and features guest access to the private park just outside its door. image Eating and Drinking Inside the hotel you have Maialino, Rose Bar, and a lovely rooftop and garden bar.

Nightlife and Dining Nearby Rose Bar & Jade Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel Maialino Novita BLT Prime SPiN New York Ciano Pete’s Tavern Pure Food and Wine Choshi Sushi Friend of a Farmer

(Photos by City Sage, Fudd and Weblicist.)

The Full Fashion Report: Thakoon, Wang, Mandy Coon, & More

Only during Fashion Week do you see industry folk bright-eyed and dressed to the nines on sub-zero, it’s-so-early-it’s-still-dark-out weekend mornings — all in spite of hard-partying the night before. You can catch them dashing like trained athletes between shows at Lincoln Center, Milk Studios, and various other obscure venues for hours on end, fueled by copious amounts of caffeinated beverages (sometimes spiked – I mean, who’s really that chipper in the am?).

It’s all for good reason, though, since some of the most hotly anticipated FW11 collections showed on Saturday and Sunday, like Alex Wang (see the show recap here) and Thakoon. But in case you couldn’t bear to give up your sacred R&R for 48 hours of fashionable mayhem, me and my fleece-lined tights (they’re lifesavers, trust me) were there to brave all the shows, parties, and eerie doll encounters for you.

image

Rachel Antonoff Stages the High School Dance We Always Wanted When someone invites you to a party that’s meant to remind you of being a teenager, your first instinct might be to cringe. Admittedly, I winced a few times before RSVPing, but only because I was jealous of the girls that have Rachel Antonoff in their lives to make them look way cooler in high school than I ever did. But unlike the lunch table-isolating mean girls from yesteryear, the designer filled her presentation in the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School gym with happy, cool kids that just really like to dance. And she covered every last detail to make it as authentic as possible, from puppy love slow dancers (inspired by a still from Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides), to shy students observing from the bleachers, to a live chick band – all dressed in Antonoff’s whimsy-prep collection. This has to be one of my favorite themes for a presentation yet.

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Alexa Chung (who’s good friends with the designer) and two adorable looks from the collection.

The band couldn’t have been a better fit for Antonoff’s retro theme: The Like. The ’60s-inspired pop band, who performed playful tunes that got even the most straight-faced editors tapping their feet, includes the designer’s friend and the face of her recent footwear collab with Bass, Tennessee Williams. Here’s a moment I really liked:

Mandy Coon Dresses the Futuristic Globetrotter Next up was Mandy Coon at Lincoln Center. It was a looping presentation like last year, so new guests were able to see the complete collection at various times. And each time, French singer and composer Émilie Simon was behind the piano, performing the same beautifully haunting song, causing me to stick around for a few encores. Just as captivating were Coon’s highly-structural designs, which reminded me of some kind of nouveau crusader, complete with outerwear for the sequel to Blade Runner that I really wish was happening.

image A corseted leather tank, a jacket for the hard-edged Eskimo, and a tie-dye-to-die-for maxi dress.

image As proven by last season’s vivid splashes of print, Coon has an eye for introducing color in creative ways. Here, she adds a burst of unexpected hot pink to an otherwise muted color palette – a major theme for FW11.

Charlotte Ronson Throws it Back Again No one does recent retro like Charlotte Ronson. Last season was straight out of an episode of My So-Called Life, and this season edges into the same ’90s territory, but with a dash of inspiration from the ’60s. In addition to flowers, plaid, and holey tights (sometimes found all in one look), the designer introduced a collection of oversized angora knits that would blend right in at any vintage store. Another throwback I was delighted to see was Irina Lazareanu’s return to the runway for two looks, even linking arms with Ronson’s half-sister and nightlife fixture, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, during the end parade. The designer again commissioned her twin sister, Samantha, to direct the music for the show, which started with a tune by Adele.

image Irina’s finale look—and I spy a Man Repeller!

Belve and Baubles with Bijules Although I was spent by the end of Saturday, I couldn’t miss BlackBook friend and fierce jewelry designer Jules Kim’s presentation at Gramercy Park Hotel. Her latest line of fine jewelry pieces, called “The Seize Kind,” were circulated throughout the event (more party atmosphere than presentation) on silver platters held by suited men. From single ear pieces to edgy-elegant pendants, designer Jules Kim delivered another collection of covetable accessories. Combined with an open Belvedere Vodka bar and a packed after-after-party at Rose Bar downstairs, I couldn’t think of a better way to unwind after a marathon day of shows.

image Kim and some of her designs.

Art Imitating Life at VPL Sunday morning started with a trip to Chelsea Piers to see the always innovative Victoria Bartlett’s latest effort. The collection was inspired both by progressive artists Piero Manzoni and Joseph Beuys, and by the human form, evident in her stretch-and-constrict designs that shift with the body’s motion. For fall, the VPL girl is wearing layers upon layers, wrapped in a plethora of textures in a range of neutrals and well-chosen hues like vivid orange and bordeaux. As each look came down the runway, myself and everyone around me was quite and focused—as if we really were at a sculpture exhibit. We all started to clap as the music faded and the lights dimmed out, until suddenly the loud beat returned, the room went bright, and out walked an army of latex-clad models in classic VPL cutout bathing suits, culminating with a primitive finale piece that was a nod to her interest in evolution.

image Layers, suspension, latex, and a furry close to VPL.

Timeless Thakoon at the Historic Plaza Although Sunday night was jam-packed with NYFW events all over the city, there’s no doubt that Thakoon was not to be missed. As I entered The Plaza Hotel for the show, I felt the history within those walls. After all, it’s one of two hotels considered a National Historic Landmark (the other is Waldorf-Astoria), and it’s where The Beatles stayed during their first visit to the U.S. As a designer with a deep respect for the past, it makes sense that Thakoon Panichgul would select such a venue for his show, which drew an equally historic crowd of fashion influencers, there to witness Panichgul’s designs.

image This collection felt very Baroque for its more regal details, but also had a cultural feel, especially with this yellow bustle skirt in an eye-popping floral batik print.

image There was also some heavy pattern-clashing, mixing stripes with plaid or paisley printed separates—or even more stripes. Cigarette pants were also a big focus for him, which just might be the next pant style designers will start experimenting with.

image And then there were Thakoon’s signature ultra-feminine dresses, like this delicately innovative silk taffeta tie-waist style.

Katie Gallagher Designs Life-Sized Voodoo Dolls Katie Gallagher has been a designer to watch for quite some time, due to her limitless creativity and no-boundaries design approach. Held at Milk Studios, her latest collection is called “Gris-Gris,” after the tiny doll charms meant to ward off evil in Voodoo culture. And her models definitely looked the part. In haunting eye makeup and witch-like hair, the mood was dark and a little scary, though the actual designs were beautiful. Gallagher’s signature leggings were back, sliced and diced in various styles in shades of grey, black, and nude, with an expected pop of color—another example of the season’s trend. I can only describe the collection, with its capes, cloaks, and tunics in moveable fabrics, as sporty witchwear.

image The voodoo dolls in action, which most guests were too afraid to look in the eyes.

Ken Doll’s Great Dream Date Debate My second encounter with life-sized dolls occurred at Christie’s auction house, which was quite a contrast from the doll situation earlier. In an event hosted by Mattel, Ken’s “Dream Date” party was part of the big PR push the brand’s been focused on as of late, themed around Ken’s desperate attempt to win Barbie back by reviving his wardrobe. All I can say is: It’s about freakin’ time, Ken! I mean, have you even seen the range of looks Barbie attempts while you’ve been wearing those same damn Hawaiian print board shorts? Believe it or not, the event drew a massive crowd of supporters thoroughly concerned with Ken’s heartfelt dilemma—or they just really liked the idea of Christie’s, free drinks, cupcakes, and music by Paul Sevigny. Either way, it was a perfect ending to my fantastic two-day NYFW bender.

image Designers like Billy Reid, Nicholas K, and Simon Spurr were commissioned to dress the new Ken doll for his big night.

image Ken can learn a thing or two from the always-dapper DJ Paul Sevigny. When in doubt, just throw on a suit and dance.

A Tanteo Tequila Valentine’s Day Cocktail

Last night, at Casa Tanteo in Soho, two mixologists went head-to-head in a boozy battle for the tequila brand’s popular “Mexican Standoff” series. Kevin Denton of The Roof Top at Gramercy Park Hotel and Ben Demarchelier of L’oubli were put to the test behind the bar, where they whipped up drinks for a panel of judges that included Tanteo’s in-house mixologist Jason Mendenhall, Johnny Swet of Hotel Griffou, James Jung of NBC’s The Feast, Renee Lucas of CITY magazine, and CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Serena Altschul.

During three 15-minute segments, the mixologists conjured up creative cocktails using Tanteo Cocoa, Tanteo Jalapeno, and Tanteo Tropical, and the evening’s secret ingredients: kumquats, fennel, and cardamon. Denton was eventually crowned the winner, scoring top points in two out of three rounds. And lucky for you, we managed to get our hands on the recipe for Denton’s prize-winner, a perfect Valentine’s Day cocktail.

If There Ain’t Pink in It, I Ain’t Drinkin’ It

2 oz of Tanteo Cocoa .75 oz of Lime Juice .5 oz of Orange Juice .5 oz of simple syrup 3 Kumquats 1 Orange Peel Add ingredients into shaker, muddle Strain into highball glass and top with espuma