W2W2: What to Wear to Your Next Mojito Outing

When you go out as much as half the people I know in New York do, it’s natural for your style choices to suffer from a lack of inspiration. Whenever there’s dinner and drinks in the evening forecast, someone is always ringing me with the same inquiry: What should I wear? This time of year it’s natural to see PYTs sipping summer cocktails on patios, all wearing the same uniform lifted straight from the latest street-style website. Perhaps it’s time we put down the look-book blogs and turn to the city itself to inspire our nightlife ensembles. Beat the heat by taking a cue from your next Mojito outing at a fiery Cuban restaurant. Get your cocktail, the ambiance, and your outfit just right.

Inspiration: The Mojito. Traditionally made by combining white rum, sugar cane, lime, soda water, and mint, it’s believed to be the world’s first cocktail. Origins can be traced back to 16th century Cuba, where the locals were sipping a cocktail called El Draque, named after Sir Francis Drake, a prominent sailor who, among other things, defended England against the Spanish Armada in 1588—a rockstar of his time. The concoction is believed to have been a way to cover up the unsavory flavor of aguardiente, an early version of rum.

The Look: Tip a fedora to the glamor of Havana. Draw from the vibrant romance of the city that invented the Mojito with tropical shades and breezy summer staples that could be worn just as well on a walk to the green market as they could inside a colorful salsa bar. Add a little drama to a cotton dress with liquid liner and a bold lip. Accent your summer tan with tropical blue-greens, corals, and shimmering bronze nail polish and shadow. And bring along a bit of loose powder to stay fresh amid the searing heat.

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Where to Wear to: Calle Ocho (Upper West Side)— Bright, colorful Latino menu and décor syncs with high-energy scene. Havana Central (Union Square)— Latin music, chainified Cuban fare for the bridge and tunnel masses. NitaNita (Williamsburg)— Their Green Tea Mojito + tasty tapas + stiff drinks = good times. Yerba Buena (East Village)— Cuban sandwiches, Peruvian ceviches, Caribbean roast pork, plus Argentine yerba mate sprinkled in for medida buena. Cafe Habana (Nolita)—Scarfing roast pork is so much better when Mary-Kate is watching, longingly. Habana Outpost (Fort Greene)—Enviro chic spin-off of Soho/Smith Street café faves.

What to Wear to: Nordstrom Grosgrain Border Straw Fedora, $28 Kate Spade Wedge Heels M·A·C Pro Longwear Lip Color, $21 Sephora by O.P.I Havana Nights Nail Polish Set, $9 Temptu Retouch Powder To Go in Translucent, $18 Sephora Collection Doe Eyed Felt Eyeliner Black, $12 Nars Duo Eyeshadow in Misfit, $32

Industry Insiders: Sean Meenan, Going Greene

Fifth-generation New Yorker, Sean Meenan, owns NoLIta’s constantly-packed Cuban wonder, Cafe Habana (with arguably the city’s best Mexican-style corn). The former amateur boxing champ purchased a lot in Fort Greene for a second location, Habana Outpost, where the focus is on sustainable, green initiatives. The bustling, solar-powered cafe also functions as a marketplace for local artisans and will tentatively expand to Malibu this year. Meenan calls himself a tri-borough (Manhattan, Brooklyn and Far Rockaway) citizen these days and commutes from home to work in a Lincoln that runs on used French fry oil. The socially and politically-concerned entrepreneur is also a partner in online marketplace, Etsy and The cashmere clothing company, The Elder Statesman. More on Meenan’s bumpy road to Brooklyn and back after the jump.

On beginnings: I’d always worked in film production or in restaurants. I was a wayward kid. Working in the restaurant business you get a couple dollars in your pocket, you’re working around a lot of cute girls. It’s not a bad vibe. I was like a bartender with a bad attitude, but I was like, “I can open a restaurant.”

On first attempts: I had no idea how to open a restaurant. To my partner, Sam Martinez, I was like “Yo. Sam. We gotta do it. Now is the time.” He had the expertise, but I had the inspiration. Together, we opened up our first restaurant up the block, this place Rialto. The guy who owned the building knew that we had no money. We’d get dressed in our suits and try to pretend that we were fancy people. He could tell that we had nothing. He used to drive around in an old, 20-year-old station wagon with no back window. So, we brought him a window and kind of touched his heart. Finally, he was like, “Alright. I’m going to give you guys a shot.” It was kind of a nasty, garage space and it was going to be our restaurant. We showed it to people. There was a big sinkhole in the backyard. We got this Brazilian crew to open it up for us. It was all smoke and mirrors. I was trying to get money from anybody I could. If I just met you, I’d be like, “I have this plan. Could you spare $50?”

On frustration leading to expansion: Everything at Café Habana was going well. But, after awhile in the restaurant business, your days end up being days spent in the basement arguing over things you never thought you would argue over — like the price of a quart of milk, the price of a case of toilet paper. You’re in a basement. There are no windows. It wasn’t the glamorous restaurant life that I wanted to have. At that point, I’d started boxing again in Bed-Stuy. I used to cross over the bridge, go through Fort Greene to Bedstuy. I saw this old parking lot that was another big hole with a For Sale sign on it. I don’t know why I thought I could afford it, but I thought I could make this happen. I became friendly with the guy who owned the lot. I was a stalker. I found out where his office was and sweet-talked the secretary. I kept going there every afternoon after I boxed. He wouldn’t talk to me in the beginning. That’s kind of how the Outpost happened. I was driving through Fort Green to see the pretty girls on my way to go boxing. Then, I ended up buying the building where it is. The whole world literally lives in Brooklyn. And everyone in Brooklyn now has a reason to go downtown to Fort Greene

On streamlining the back of house: The hardest position to keep staffed at a restaurant is the dishwasher.You’re a dishwasher for about then minutes until you’re trying to figure out how you can be the prep guy or the bartender or the waiter. It’s an entry-level position. You have to plan on somebody wanting to wake up every day being paid whatever they’re being paid to be the dishwasher. There are a million reasons not to come to work: You’re hungover. You think you can get another job somewhere else. You just don’t feel like working. If the dishwasher doesn’t show up nobody wants to be the dishwasher. At the Outpost, we don’t have a dishwasher. I was able to find environmentally friendly plates made of sugarcane. We compost them in the lot behind the restaurant. It’s a way to subliminally make everyone understand that you need to take individual responsibility.

On side projects Etsy and The Elder Statesman: Both Greg Chait my partner in the Elder Statesman and Rob Kalin, the founder of Etsy, are worried about society at large. They’re worried about the artisans that are making products. Greg is very interested in who is making the product and how they’re being treated. Through Etsy, we’ve changed the process in order to go as close as possible to the person who is actually sewing that blankets. That’s the person that we want to deal with – not somebody who is standing over them getting all the money. It’s being able to cut out the middle-man. You’re an artist. You’re a craftsperson. You should be able to sell it yourself. It’s become a community. If you are selling on Etsy, you have the opportunity to really let that be a focus of your life and talk about other sellers.

On Going Green as the new trend: You can tell when someone’s sincere and when someone is not. Some people that are environmentally inclined or really passionate about environmental movements are some of the last people you would think of. The most surprising one for me is WalMart. They realize that reducing packaging, worrying about idling trucks, putting in solar power, to and even just skylights saves millions and millions of dollars. Are they still worried about the actual mother earth or are they worried about the bottom line? Some people say that with their history, it’s not even debatable. But, at the end of the day, they can actually go to the Chinese manufacturers and say, “You’re going to have to change the way you do business.” They’re the largest retailer in the world. So, they’re going to make a bigger change than some guy in Brooklyn selling tacos. Sustainability and environmentalism, at the end of the day, does come down to human beings and society in general.

Go-to spots: I’ll go to one restaurant way too many times in a row until I almost can’t go there anymore. Then, on to the next spot. Around the corner, I go to Ballato’s. Great Italian food. That used to be one of Andy Warhol’s spots. I also like Gloria’s.

Worst habit: Wow. I’ve got a lot of bad habits. I’d say, making it a deep question when I know it’s not supposed to be.

Where Celebs Go Out: Marc Jacobs, Amanda Lepore, Adrian Grenier, Emma Snowdon-Jones

At David Barton Gym annual toy drive: ● MARC JACOBS – “In Paris, there’s a small club called Montana, and there’s a restaurant called Thiou. Bars I really don’t hang out in. Oh, there’s this great club that happens once a month in Paris called Club Sandwich. And it’s at the Espace Cardin. And everyone gets super dressed-up, so it’s really, really fun. I try to go whenever I’m in Paris, if it’s going on. And we stay out all night and just dance like crazy. And in New York, my favorite restaurants have always been the same. I love to eat at Pastis. I love the Standard. I love Da Silvano. I eat in the lobby of the Mercer a lot, the hotel. I usually go to Pastis for lunch, and there’s a sandwich that was on the menu, but they don’t make it anymore, but I always insist that they make it for me. And it’s really fattening, so I shouldn’t eat it, but it’s chicken paillard and gruyere cheese and bacon. And it’s so delicious. It’s really good. And it’s my weakness. It’s just like the most perfect sandwich.”

● DAVID BARTON – “Oh, I can’t think where I like to hang out in Seattle except my new gym! There’s a great place that just opened up in New York, up on 51st, called the East Side Social Club. Patrick McMullan is one of the partners there. He’s co-hosting with me tonight. Great place; really cool. It’s very old world, kind of like going to Elaine’s, kind of little cozy; sit at a booth; very cool. Love a little place called Il Bagatto, over on 7th between A & B — little tiny Italian place, East Village, kind of a neighborhood place that I go to. What else? I don’t know restaurants. I’m very casual. I’m so not that into food. I mean, I could eat cardboard — I’m just not into food! I like people. I like atmosphere, but I’m just not that into food.” ● AMANDA LEPORE – “I definitely like Bowery Bar and I like Hiro. Boom Boom Room. Just anywhere where everybody is, I guess! [laughs] Novita, I like, my friend Giuseppe. Any favorite dishes? I try not to eat too much! ● PATRICK MCDONALD – “My favorite restaurant in New York is Indochine. It’s been around for 25 years. Jean-Marc, I adore. I love the bar at the Carlyle. I don’t drink, but I like to go there for tea in the afternoon. And I love Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon on Gramercy Park. I love Pastis, Odeon, and everywhere. I like the French fries at Pastis.” ● PATRICK MCMULLAN – “I love going to Waverly Inn downtown. Boom Boom Room is fabulous. That’s really a new, great place. SL, on 409 W. 14th Street, down below is nice. Of course, I have the East Side Social Club that I’m involved with, and that’s great for hanging out in, for eating. Favorite dishes anywhere? Oh, I don’t know, just anything that people recommend. I usually go with what people recommend ’cause most people know what’s good — the waiters know, so I think that’s the best thing. Red wine is good to have to drink sometimes. They have a drink called the Eastsider at the East Side Social Club that’s really good; any of their pastas; their ravioli is great there. What else do I like? That new place that’s open, the English place, on 60th in the Pierre — Le Caprice, that’s a nice place. At the Waverly Inn, I like the macaroni and cheese. It was funny because the macaroni and cheese is about two dollars less than a room at the Pod Hotel, which is where the East Side Social Club is! The Monkey Bar is fun. There are so many cool places in New York. I just go where people tell me to go.”

At elf party for Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe:

● JENNY MCCARTHY – “In Chicago, I would have to say Gibsons Steakhouse still; in Los Angeles, Katsuya, still love that sushi; I’m addicted to it. And in New York, Koi. I’m very trendy and boring, but, hey, that’s where the good food is, so …” ● PERI GILPIN – “In L.A., we like BLT a lot. We have five-year-old twins, so we’re like in bed by nine o’clock — pretty boring. Corner Bakery for soup.” ● CANDACE CAMERON BURE – “L.A., hands down, our favorite restaurant is Gjelina, which is in Venice. And we love Craft; love Michael’s in Santa Monica. Here, in New York, my favorite restaurant is Lupa, which is a Mario Batali restaurant; love it here. And I don’t go to clubs anymore, nightclubs; I don’t ever! At Gjelina, they have a burrata with prosciutto and, usually, a warm pear or a warm peach. I love that! I really love tapas. I enjoy getting a lot of appetizers, more than just a main dish. We, actually, have had our own wine label, Bure Family Wines, for two years, which is at several restaurants, so matching the food and the wine is a big part for us. We’re big foodies” ● DEAN MCDERMOTT – “There is a great bar, Ye Coach & Horses in L.A., on Sunset. I’m so bad at this stuff! Oh, Katsuya, in the Valley, awesome sushi. It’s our favorite place. We go there like three times a week.” ● KEN BAUMANN – “In New York, my favorite restaurant is Il Cortile. It’s in Little Italy, and it’s run by this guy named Stefano, and it’s incredible, phenomenal food. In Los Angeles, my favorite restaurant’s gotta be Cut, which is in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.” ● SHAILENE WOODLEY – “Honestly, I’m not really a club kinda girl. I’d rather go to a local bar with some friends and hang out there. Or just go back to my house and have people come over. I’m more of the congregate-at-my-house kind of chick. I’m 18, so I don’t drink, so I don’t go to bars. There’s a place called the Alamo, which has karaoke and it’s a bar, but we go and karaoke there probably once a week.” ● FRANCIA RAISA – “I’m not a big club person. I really like bars and lounges. In L.A., I like to hang out at Buffalo Wild Wings, watching sports and drinking beer with my friends. I really don’t go out that much. I hang out at home and have my own glass of wine, watching Grey’s Anatomy. Oh, I just tried this restaurant yesterday at Gramercy Park Hotel. It’s a new, Italian place — Maialino. It was amazing. And again, I’m very simple, so I like pizza, and John’s Pizza out here is amazing to me, too. And hot wings I like at Planet Hollywood. I’m obsessed with them!”

At Zeno “Hot Spot” launch party @ MTV Studios:

● SKY NELLOR – “I am a huge sushi fanatic, so I just had Katsuya three times in two days in L.A. What is it about Katsuya? It’s the baked-crab hand roll in a soy-paper wrap. It’s just so yummy. I want one now! In New York, I have a fixation with Bagatelle. I just love the fish and the veggies. Nightclubs, nightlife, oh, my God! Apparently, I’m a really good bowler, so I hang out at Lucky Strike everywhere — Miami, L.A., Kansas! We just had a bowling party, and I won, so … Oh, they didn’t let me see my score. I just kept getting strikes to the point where they were, like, ‘Give her more shots! We have to stop this girl!’ And the drunker I got, the better I got. Clubs — if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out to dance. And I’m going to go where the DJ is playing. I don’t care what club it is. I went to a dive in L.A., at a party called Afex, just because some of the best DJs were playing that night. Like, I don’t care about the crowd. I don’t care about the scene. I care about the music. I don’t think the venue has a name. I think it’s called No Space. They just move the party around.” ● SUCHIN PAK – “I have a great place. It’s called Broadway East, and it’s on East Broadway. And I love it because it’s a beautiful space, but also it’s literally across the street from my house. That always helps. And then there’s a really fantastic place called Bacaro. Oh, it’s amazing! It’s downstairs. It’s almost a dungeon-like place. The people that used to do Peasant, the wine bar there, moved to this place. I like to say the Lower East Side on East Broadway is where the grown-up hipsters go. For a true Lower East Sider, it may not be true Lower East Side, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved more south than east, and I keep trickling that way.”

At charity:ball for charity:water:

● ADRIAN GRENIER – “Brooklyn. Fort Greene. Habana Outpost — it’s run mostly on solar power, and it’s a sustainable business.” MARK BIRNBAUM “Well, if I do say so myself, Abe & Arthur’s on 14th Street; SL, the new club underneath it. I still love Tenjune. And I like hanging out at home other than that. What about places other than your own? So I shouldn’t say the Chandelier Room, in Hoboken? I really like going to Bar and Books in the West Village — that’s our spot. You know where else I like to go? Miami — the new W South Beach is unbelievable, by far the best hotel down there. The design is incredible; the pool area is very nice; they have good restaurants there — there’s a Mr. Chow’s and the other one is good; the rooms are really nice; it’s very well done; it’s just very fresh, the entire thing; and the artwork is incredible. You don’t feel like you’re in South Beach — not that there’s anything wrong with it — but it’s really, really, really, well done.” ● NICOLE TRUNFIO – “I just found this really cool jazz club in Paris where they still dance to old, rock-and-roll music in partners. It’s a location undisclosed. I don’t remember what it’s called. It’s in the Saint-Michel — it’s just off it. You can jump into a taxi, ‘cause we went to a jazz bar called the Library, but that was closed. So we asked the taxi driver, and he took us to this place. So, I’m sure lots of local French taxi-drivers would know the place.” ● LAUREN BUSH – “Oh, gosh, I’m like so uncool! It’s such an obvious question, it’s so hard … I’m a vegetarian, so I love Blossom restaurant. They have a good, quinoa-tofu dish. It’s like gingery. It’s really good. ● EMMA SNOWDON-JONES – “I love Le Bilboquet because it’s consistent, and mainly wherever your friends are it makes the place. It’s on 63rd, between Park and Madison. I’ve gone there since I was in boarding school. I’d come into the city on the weekends, and I’d go there. I think anyone that’s been in New York as long as I have knows it. That’s a really, bloody long time, sadly. As good as my Botox is, it’s too long!” ● KRISTIN CHENOWETH – “I am an old-fashioned girl, and I still love Joe Allen’s. I go there all the time. And right next-door above, is a place called Bar Centrale, and I go there, too. I was just there last night for three hours. I like the manicotti at Joe Allen’s. It’s excellent!” ● JULIAN LENNON – “Probably the Jane bar and the Rose Bar in New York.”

At launch of S.T. Dupont in-store boutique @ Davidoff on Madison Avenue:

● RON WHITE – “I love the bars in Glasgow, Scotland. You could go sit in a bar by yourself and in five minutes, you’d be talkin’ to 10 people because they’re so curious about anybody that walks in that’s not normally in there. They just want to go talk to ’em and find out what they’re about. They’re just as friendly as they can be. I was there for the British Open, or the Open Championship, as it’s called. And if you go to a bar in New York City, you can sit there for the rest of your life and not meet another person because they’re not really gonna come up to you and go, ‘Hey, what’s up? What are you doing in town?’ That just doesn’t happen here.”

Where’s Cool

There’s a new travel site that’s worth checking out, and it’s called Where’s Cool. It’s a user generated travel guide. In the site’s own words: it’s designed to help fellow “I don’t care about the stupid touristy crap” travelers find stuff to do that’s cheap, independent, authentic or underground. You know, those places you stumble into on a trip to a new city that turn out awesome.

The budget slash hipster vibe is further enhanced with their tagline “A budget travel community your mom probably wouldn’t find useful.” Abhorring the traditional tourist traps and five-start restaurants, this site caters mostly to those traveling on a shoestring. The team at Where’s Cool is pretty small, with one guy coding everything and two other nomads handling the rest. As the site is still very much in development, not every city on the list is filled out, but so far, so good. New York listings include Union Hall, Pinche Taqueria, Habana Outpost, and Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden. It’s tough to say if this site will make it, because the problem with user generated content is that there really isn’t any quality control, and once the number of reviews goes beyond a few hundred for each city, it’s tough to sort through and decide what’s worth seeing and what’s not. Great concept, but I’m interested to see what happens once they get some more traction.

New York: Top 10 Frozen Cocktails

Macondo (Lower East Side) – Hero to gourmand alkies everywhere, Junior Merino has gone and done it again. His Aguacate and Mescal at Rayuela’s younger, cheaper, funner sis is probably the greatest thing to ever muck up a blender. Creamy fresh avocado, sweet agave nectar, and Scorpion mescal by the frosty, puke-green pitcher. ● Momofuku Noodle Bar (East Village) – The porky ramen bar takes 7-Eleven to school, son, with its watermelon lemonade Soju Slushie. Big gulp a couple and marvel at how all the blond wood is like getting smashed inside somebody’s cool balsa architecture project. Brain freeze! ● Rusty Knot (West Village) – Named after the most disgusting sex act ever, the eponymous frozen mojito is also a kitschy tiki classic. Spotted Pig via Key West is the perfect camped-out cruise — supplement your plastic cup of rum-n-sugar with a pig in a blanket and sunset over the West Side Highway. Only thing missing is Gavin MacLeod.

El Quinto Pino (Chelsea) – Who needs tables when you’ve got frozen basil gin lemonade? The tall, sallow, and icy Pomada manages to complement both the crack-esque sea urchin panini and the cracked-out crazy of the sardined crowd. Throwing drug dealer etiquette to the wind, the first one, unfortunately, is not on the house. ● Brooklyn Bowl (Williamsburg) – Bowling just screams margaritas, doesn’t it, hipsters? New Billyburg pin spot’s Prophet’s Margarita is un-disgusting machine slush with optional fresh strawberry topping. Sixteen lanes for rolling, flatscreens above the alleys, food from Blue Ribbon, swank settees, all distract from frozen ‘rita gutterballs. ● Matsuri at the Maritime Hotel (Chelsea) – Gorgeous, modelicious mega-room throws some bling in the blender. Asti and Riesling class up oxymoronic frozen bubbly known as the Golden Pavilion, served in a flute and floating with gold leaf. Akin to $500 jeans and grilling grass-fed bison. You fancy. ● Rosa Mexicano (Union Square) – Satisfy your equally contradictory posh-Mexican cravings with a Frozen Pomegranate Margarita. Vague Chili’s undercurrent, but like the Big Pepper, doesn’t skimp on el diablo (tequila). Get sloppy enough to be totally, totally okay with $19 chicken tacos. ● Habana Outpost (Fort Greene) – Enviro chic spin-off New Faces Soho café, save a buck on your frozen margarita by bicycling the blender yourself. Flaunt your street cred — shun plain Jane mango and strawberry for vaguely exotic guava. Best recycled-wood picnic table, solar-powered, parking lot drunk ever. ● Daddy’s (Williamsburg) – Who’s yours now? asks the ingenious Margerveza—beer frothed with margarita slush. Goes down dreamy on the small outdoor patio of this little pocket of cool near the borough-slicing BQE. Just don’t get so biquored you lay in the dirt-filled bathtub, nastypants. ● Dos Caminos Soho (Soho) – Join the pretties in the caged patio slurping Prickly Pear Margaritas. Practice looking bored, and later, sober. Try not to dribble on your best after-dark costume. Will require your strongest Pedialite/crushed aspirin hangover cure come manana.