Is This Banksy, Caught in the Act?

Here’s an interesting thing. A very good friend of mine, who is always reliable (except when she isn’t—she’d be the first to agree) took this photo of what she says is Banksy, the invisible man caught in the act. I’ve been sitting on it, debating it’s validity and the idea of busting out the superhero. She was black car-ing it to her abode during Oscar week and stopped to take this photo. It’s a slow news day—so here it is. You draw your own conclusions. My gal swears it’s him. She thinks.

Tonight Big Audio Dynamite will rock Roseland. The super-secret afterparty will be held at the Library at the Hudson Hotel. BlackBook is the hosting this event, and yours truly will DJ until the band cleans up and arrives to take over the turntables. It’s a private affair, so don’t look at me for guest list help. After my set I’m going to take an elevator to Jonny Lennon’s monthly soiree at Good Units. There it’s DJ Cassidy and ?uestlove — it’s a “must attend” affair. Great crowd, great music, and a number of adjustments made after moi, your humble servant, suggested some. They work hard over at the Hudson to make it right. I find myself writing so often about the happenings at Morgans Group properties that I think I might have to move into one of their joints.

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NYC: The Best Bars to Entertain Holiday Visitors

The holiday season means higher-than-usual tourist density in New York City, and naturally, that spike in traffic is due in no small part to your own eager friends and family, who descend on the city for an authentic, fairy-lighted experience of the Big Apple in winter. But after a day at Macy’s, an evening at Rockefeller Center, and a dinner somewhere “New York-y,” as per their request, where do you, their trusty tour guide by default, take them for a night on the town? Here are a few crowd-pleasers that will still earn you some street cred, whether that crowd involves your boyfriend’s distant Uncle Larry, Mom and Dad, long-lost friends who’ve emerged from the woodwork, hard-to-impress rubberneckers, or your old high school mates. A comprehensive list of the best yuletide boîtes to celebrate the new year – and the best of NYC.

Bars with Games Good For: Who doesn’t like to indulge in the nostalgia of old-school games, especially this time of year? Whether you’re with a raucous bunch of old friends, have a score to settle with your Mom over ping pong, or need to take the focus off a conversation with relatives you barely know, these bars offer distractions and can make for a festive time. Bar 675: Basement rec room goes for casual chic with Jenga, cards, and board games. Earn extra points from sceney friends, who will be thrilled to tell the folks back home that they hung out in the Meatpacking. The Diamond: Brooklyn bound? Beer makes shuffleboard so much more fun at this Greenpoint joint. SPiN: Table tennis for mom, and the fact that it’s owned by Susan Sarandon will appease cousin Name Drop as well. Barcade: Are your friends from the Midwest looking for “authentic Brooklyn?” Watch their wide-eyed wonder as they take in skinny-jean gangs playing thumb-cramping faves like Frogger and Tetris for an authentic 25¢ a pop. Ace Bar: Skee-Ball bar pleases the kiddies and anyone else who likes bare-bones décor sprinkled with bits of pop-trinket nostalgia from your childhood. V Bar: Siding with the gaming snobs of the world, this spot is best for your Princeton-alum brother (who happens to be a chess genius). Café and wine bar stocked with NYU grad students, chess and Scrabble battles, and a nice selection of beer and wine.

Next: Cozy Fireplaces

Cozy Fireplaces Good For: Catch up time with people who came to really enjoy holiday spirit in the city. Rose Bar: Have friends or family more interested in being around artists than actual art? For example: I once took someone here who fawned over what he thought was a Warhol (he read about it in a city guide) loud enough so that he was sure Neve Campbell, seated a table away, could hear. It was a Haring. Rubber-necking friends aside, the velvety banquettes and giant fireplace are a cozy departure from the winter weather courtesy of Ian Schrager and Julian Schnabel. The Lobby Bar at the Bowery Hotel: Wood paneling, stuffed animal trophies, and twin oils of hunting hounds give off an English-manor-library vibe. Can be a headache to get a good spot, which are usually reserved for “hotel guests,” monied travelers, and pretty hipsters. Try eating at Gemma first and brown nose your server for a spot by the fireplace. The Back Room: Semi-secret spot for those wishing it was still Prohibition. They’ll get a kick out of drinking their $11 cocktail from a mug. Employees Only: High-class weirdness, with a gypsy psychic at the door and stellar mixologists to determine your fate. The smell of the fireplace and the sight of all the handle bar mustaches will really transport your visitors. Highlands: Décor is pub-meets-hunter’s-lodge, with stuffed deer on brick walls and salvaged woods. Cozy, and it exacerbates that whole “New York Melting Pot” idea. Savoy: A townhouse in the middle of Soho with a fireplace as the festive cherry on top. Shoolbred’s: Scottish pub parlor warmed by actual fireplace. Ten brews on tap. Scotch, natch. It’s Highlands for the East Side set, with a low key (NYU students) crowd.

Next: The Oldest Bars in New York

The Oldest Bars in New York Good For: Skip these precious spots if you’re with a crew that couldn’t care less about anywhere that doesn’t have a VIP list. Otherwise, impress friends and family with the storied, often quirky backgrounds of some of New York’s oldest watering holes. Bridge Café: Opened in 1794, old but not musty. Looks like the site of a nautical murder mystery and is rumored to be haunted by ghosts of sailors and whores, like your parents’ bedroom. Ear Inn: Classic New York-on-the-waterfront feel, minus Marlon Brando, but with plenty of coulda-been contenders. I’ve seen a Soprano in here. McSorley’s: Born in 1854, and perhaps the most renown bar amongst the younger members of the Historical Society, this beer-chugging joint sees tanked fratboys, the cirrhosis crowd, and, after a court order, a few ladies (in other words: no women were allowed until 1970). Sawdusted floors, dust-encrusted wishbones, and loads of cats make this a very special place, indeed. Delmonico’s: Quenching your bloodthirst since ’37 -1837, that is – your parents will appreciate the air of refinement this joint still exudes, not to mention the supposed hauntings. Mahogany wood dining room with glowing chandeliers is the ideal noir-glam setting for steakhouse staples and a bustling bar separate from the dining room.

Next: Mixology Bars

Mixology Bars Good For: The mixology trend is widely known across all towns and townships, so let your slightly underage cousin Timmy learn firsthand just how delightful muddling, zesting, and spicing can be. Just about anyone who doesn’t limit themselves to wine coolers will appreciate the craftsmanship and ambiance. Apotheke: For those who want the back alley as much as they want the absinthe, welcome to Albert Trumer’s quirky school of cocktail science – this former opium den has been transformed into a medieval apothecary by the Austrian mixologist. Bonus: it’s in Chinatown. The interior is antique-sexy, with warm lighting and super-friendly bartenders. PDT: Oh, this is good. Through a hot dog joint you’ll go, and then through a phone booth, where you’ll have to say some secret something-or-other (though they’ve grown lenient in their older age) before you take your dumbfounded guests back to a room with a diagonal slat ceiling, de rigueur taxidermy, and a glowing bar. Note: Make a reservation earlier to get a good seat and smooth entry. Little Branch: By far the most talked-about speakeasy, this West Village spot boasts no signage unless you count the line out the door during peak hours. Retro cocktails served with cool swizzle sticks by tall drinks of water. Go on the early side of a Sunday night to chat up the mixologists and catch some jazz. Mayahuel: The cocktail connoisseurs at Death & Co. built an agave altar. Intimate confessionals, stained glass, and communal pews evoke a Mexican mission. All tequila, all the time, with all the bells and whistles to render previous tequila blow-outs null and void. Death & Co: Dark and polished, this cocktail den packs in a lively crowd. Bartenders in suspenders and vests serve up expert cocktails, and clearly love what they do (they don’t take of their vests when they get home). Great spot for just about anyone who can appreciate such a scene. Cienfuegos: Cuban rum bar from Mayahuel/Death & Co vet seduces with pink couches and sugarcane.

Next: Impressive Hotel Bars

Impressive Hotel Bars Good For: If your guests really “wanna see stuff,” like mine usually do, guiding them to impressively-designed hotel bars around NYC—usually the crown jewels of the hotels themselves—will go over well. Here are a few that leave a lasting impression. Bemelmans Bar: It’s classic New Yawk! Located inside the Carlyle, this timeless upscale New York City bar near Central Park draws bold-faced names, many of whom your out-of-towners could care less about. They will enjoy the classic cocktails and gilded ambiance. Hudson Bar at Hudson Hotel: If your guests approach things like rock music, sushi, and democrats with trepidation, this bar on acid may not be the place for them. Shrek-green lights illuminate the escalator, there’s a chandelier the size of a Volkswagen, the floors glow, the chairs seem to float—except for the tree stumps—and the whole thing makes you feel like you’re living in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s that cool. The Waldorf Astoria: Ah, the sprawling impressiveness of the Waldorf – the stuff salads are named after! Three bars, four restaurants, and Jazz Age overindulgence. A certain spirit abides, especially during the holidays. Jane Hotel and Ballroom: This place is for your visiting sorority sisters – leave the parents at home. Dual bar spaces decked out with Edwardian charm, as befits the hotel’s 1908 origins. Posh couches, leafy palms, tortoise shell ceilings, and an ancient disco bar all made better by the creatively-dressed PYTs. Plunge Rooftop Bar + Lounge at the Gansevoort Park: This hotel bar sort of looks like the New York in the Sex and the City movies. It’s slick and arty, with shinning angles and scrumptious views of the Empire State Building. Stoke your vertigo with windows in the terrace floors that look straight down on distant midtown traffic. Your guests will feel so very modern. The Standard Hotel: So this is the place with all the naked people? Depending who you’re with, I’d say a stroll around the grounds with a stop at the bar in the hotel’s Standard Grill will be enough. Unless you’ve got some young model/socialite family members, why waste family time on rubbernecking at Boom Boom? The Ace Hotel: It has a curious cheeky quality to it without being a tourist magnet. The Lobby Bar is reminiscent of an all-American library, with Ivy League reading-room tables, a bar serving up Old Fashioneds and the cult favorite Porkslap Pale Ale, a vintage-style photobooth, and a massive, tattered American flag on the wall. Bring people—not sheeple.

Next: Editor’s Picks

Editor’s Picks Our editors are often tasked with selecting the perfect place for their cousin Sarah’s college roommate’s mother, who’s coming to the city for the first time. Here’s where they like to bring their special holiday guests this time of year. Chris Mohney: Pegu Club. Great place to take any out-of-towner who likes a good drink. Still some of the finest cocktails in the city, and now that it’s been around a while, almost always chill enough to easily find a spot without worrying about crowds. Ben Barna: Fatty Cue. It’s good for anyone, really. Except maybe vegetarians. It’s got the kind of vibe you can only find in Brooklyn, and the kind of unique cuisine you’ll only find in New York. Also, it’s a restaurant meant for sharing, so that’s fun. And the drinks are as good as the food. I’d like to just bring my bros, but it’s expensive, so I take my parents as well. Megan Conway: The Good Fork in Red Hook. I’d like to take my parents to visit this historic, less-trodden waterfront neighborhood. This cozy restaurant offers inspired grub in one of the more unique pockets of the city. Nadeska Alexis: The Dove. It’s a well rounded place that’s chill enough for friends, and I’ve been there with adults and have not been embarrassed. Fun cocktails too. Victor Ozols: Rudy’s. It’s a really lasting, authentic experience that stays with someone. Cayte Grieve: Oyster Bar at Grand Central. For New York newbies and friends and family who haven’t spent a lot of time in the city, the Oyster Bar is one of those bars-slash-attractions that sort of kills two birds with one stone. Grand Central? Check. Getting Grandma drunk? Check. All done with old-style glamour.

Next: Around Rockefeller

Around Rockefeller Good For: Sometimes you just gotta give the people what they want: A Disney-fied version of the most wonderfully commercial time of the year! While your skating, shopping, and taking photos around The Tree, you might as well ease your sensory-overloaded nerves with some family vodka time. Rock Center Café: Tourist magnet, priced accordingly, and you will wait accordingly—yes, even the early birds. Perhaps it’s best to skip the food and opt for a toast instead. Perfect before, during, or after a spin around the rink. Watching wipe-outs with the fam never felt so corporate. The Modern: Danny Meyer’s unabashed flamboyance for air-kissing culture whores. It’s at the MoMa, kids, so take only those who desire such a scene. If you’ve got yourself a crew outfitted in suits and ties longing for a culture cocktail, here’s your promised land. 21 Club: It’s so famous! Free parking if you show up before 6:30pm, if that tells you something about the demographic, but only the locals and culture snobs will take note. Skip the steaks and head for the scotch with the people who’ve read about the place or heard about it in hip-hop songs. Morrell Wine Bar & Cafe: Here’s a cozy place to get warm after running with the masses around Rockefeller. Please remember that other people longing for a night cap will also be directed to this wine bar, which boasts over fifty well-chosen wines by the glass and 2,000 bottle choices on the menu.

NYC Try Outs: Natasha Huang’s West Coast Sensibility

It’s always intriguing to watch a former West Coast denizen make their way in the Big Apple. Their itineraries have a slightly sunnier edge, quite literally. They seek out roof tops and tiki bars, their drinks are sweeter, their style is fashionably laid back – they’ve mastered that whole California-cool thing that’s a stretch for the native New Englander. Natasha Huang is of the West-turned-East school. A native of the Bay Area, she graduated from the University of San Francisco and worked in health care for hospitals before moving to the city as the Director of Marketing for Encore Magazine. Shortly thereafter, she struck out on her own to start a company: NH Media. As an entrepreneur in the PR field, Natasha is often out and about, raising her public profile and collecting business cards with the best of them, while still maintaining her distinctly relaxed, and, let’s face it, friendly West Coast nature. The places she’s deemed her favorites reflect her sunny disposition.

Name: Natasha Huang Professional Resume: I own and run a social media public relations company called NH Media, where I work in the fashion and social media arena in one of the greatest cities in the world. One Word to Describe Nightlife in New York City: Infinite.

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City Loves • Favorite lunch spot: Mamoun’s Falafel or La Esquina. • Favorite dinner spot: DBGB. • Favorite nightlife trend: Rooftops and tiki bars. • Drink of choice: KGB – apparently it’s orange vodka, soda, splash of orange juice, and a slice of orange. • Meal of choice: anything raw – oysters, tuna tartar, sushi, beef carpaccio. • Favorite group of people to bump into: housewives, socialites, fashionistas, diva’s, models.

City Loathes • Nightlife trend: Anything with a line or cover charge. • Drink: Cosmo or Sex on the Beach. • Meal: Baked Mac and Cheese. • Group of people to bump into: Fist Pumpers, girls who can’t walk in high heels, hoochies, club promoters.

Her Hotspots • Monday: Salud. • Tuesday: HighBar. • Wednesday: Le Bain. • Thursday: Ulysses. • Friday: 230 Fifth. • Saturday: Hudson Bar @ Hudson Hotel. • Sunday: Pastis.

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• Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Quo, Marquee, Greenhouse. • For special occasions: Per Se or South Gate. • Brunch is usually: Bagatelle.

New York: Top 10 Places to Watch the Super Bowl

1. Southern Hospitality (Upper East Side) – The 14 HD TVs and a large HD projection screen aren’t the real excess here — that’s the $80 premium VIP package. All you can drink, all you can eat appetizers (the fried pickles are absurd), and guaranteed seating to make sure once the fat is on, it stays on. Free Jim Beam from 4 to 6 only sweetens the deal. The place to be. 2. 40/40 (Flatiron) – Like stepping into a hip-hop video, minus the fisheye. All-white, super sleek. Oh, and Kobe Bryant is holding a party for his Laker friends and all the video hos this side of the Bronx. 3. Village Pourhouse (Greenwich Village) – 50 bottles, around 24 drafts at any given moment. But with the $30 all you can drink Bud Light draft from kickoff until end of the game, we both know what you’ll be drinking.

4. Bounce Deuce (East Village) – Brother Jimmy’s too packed? Go here. The website actually advertises their “eye candy staff,” so if the game is a blowout, other entertainment awaits. 5. Brass Monkey (Meatpacking District) – Didn’t take a set of brass balls to figure out the MePa needed a solid spot for unpretentious quaffing. Emerald Isle vibe, so while the rest of country is drowning in Coors Light, get dead to the world on good ol’ Guinness. 6. Hudson Bar at the Hudson Hotel (Midtown West) – Class it up on the least-classy day of the year. Special food menu and complimentary Peroni from 5 to 6. 7. Abbey Pub (Upper West Side) – Annual tradition of serving the host city’s local cuisine. So like what, alligator burgers? 8. Lucky Strike Lanes (Midtown West) – All-day party and beer specials. Plus, what better thing to do during the Super Bowl than to bowl! 9. Brother Jimmy’s (Various Locations) – Sure it’s a chain, but don’t deny its power. The Super Bowl is their Super Bowl. Expect the words all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink to be tossed around freely at this vaguely Southern BBQ joint. 10. Monkey Town (Williamsburg) – Monkey Town = Drunky Town. Four wall-sized screens and a $30 food and drink minimum, but if you weren’t planning on spending that much, you don’t deserve to be watching the Super Bowl anyway.

Industry Insiders: Darryl Robinson, Dr. Mixologist

Over on our Mixology site in the Pros section, we asked the hottest bartenders in New York and Los Angeles to whip up a specialty cocktail while describing their perfect New Year’s Eve. Check out Darryl Robinson — a.k.a. “Dr. Mixologist” — as he creates the Hudson Pear at his home base of NYC’s Hudson Bar. Here he tells us about cruising the NYC bar scene and his preference for beautiful people, clothes, and cocktails in combination.

What do you do? What do you drink? I’m a bartender and also the in-house mixologist, so I helped create the cocktail list that you’ll see at the Hudson Bar. I also entertain the guests at the bar with my wonderful bartending skills. I am by nature a vodka drinker. I realized earlier on that it was probably one of those things that didn’t give me a hangover. Vodka is simple, it’s easy, and it’s clean. I like vodka martinis and vodka on the rocks with a squeeze of lemon, vodka on the rocks with a splash of cranberry. I don’t really like to put too much in there, so anything I add is usually a splash. I never want to cover up the taste of vodka too much.

How did you get your start? It goes back to days when I wasn’t even bartending. At home we had a full-sized bar. My parents would entertain an awful lot, and to keep me out of trouble, they would let me actually mix the drinks behind the bar for their guests. I wasn’t going to go to sleep; I was just going to get into trouble anyway, so they figured behind the bar, they knew where I was. I was 10 or 11 years old.

Name three restaurants/bars/clubs you frequent when you’re not working. I prefer lounges. I’m not the club type. One of my favorite lounges right now is Apothéke, down in Chinatown. I like it because of its ambience and atmosphere. They don’t necessarily have name-brand liquors. They make and infuse their own in-house versions, so I like their creativity. You know you may not like everything, but that’s OK. What I do like is that they take a risk and a chance, and they serve a fickle New York City market items that they cannot recognize. I love Bar 89, which is often a spot I will hit before I go to Apothéke. It’s only a couple of blocks away. I go to Cafeteria late at night after I get off work because it’s still open. And most of the people are coming there after they clubbed — and I don’t want to sound shallow, but I do like beautiful people, so I love going where people are dressed, and they’re beautiful to look at, and they have style.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? When I get home at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning, I generally keep anywhere from around 12-14 pints of Haagen Dazs ice cream in my freezer. I’ll sit there at 6 o’clock in the morning and eat that, and maybe pour a little Baileys Irish Cream on top of it for that extra little decadent kick.

What is the worst (most disgusting, worst request, etc.) cocktail you’ve ever had to make? I think it’s a sacrilege to mix Johnnie Walker Blue or Louis XIII with Coke. I won’t do it. I’ll put your Coke and Louis XII bottle in front of you and ask you to do it yourself. I will not physically mix a $200-a-shot cognac with Coke. What’s the worst pick up line you’ve ever heard while tending bar? Ever witness any amazing hook ups? There are so many. I’ve made a cosmopolitan for a lady, and a guy comes up to her and says, “Your lips are as pretty and pink as that cosmopolitan.” I didn’t know where that was going to get him.

What celebrity (dead or alive) would you like to share a drink with at your bar? Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Clinton.

What’s your ideal barhopping night in New York/LA? It probably gets started around 9 o’clock, so I’ve had a really nice dinner first. I probably hydrated with a lot of water. Now I’m really ready to go out, spending no more than an hour at each bar. I would probably want to be in a more trendy area, so I’m probably going to go to the Meatpacking District, Soho, or Tribeca. I want them to be loungey bars. Intimate lighting. Not necessarily romantic but intimate. I love candles. I’m probably going to be with three or four friends. Then we have a table, but not necessarily bottle service, but with the option to walk between the bar and the table. And just enjoy really nice music. And I want to be looking at beautiful people enjoying wonderful drinks.

What are you doing tonight? I’m bartending at the Hudson Bar. Using 3 out of 5 of the following ingredients make me a dream cocktail: grenadine, pepper, tequila, avocado, lemongrass. I’m going to take the tequila, take the avocado, and take the pepper. I’m going to add lemon and lime to that. I’m going to add simple syrup, which is basically your sugar solution to sweeten the cocktail, and I’m also going to add pineapple juice. With that we’re going to make an avocado margarita, and the pepper would only be a dash because I want it to have a little bit of a kick. We’re going to muddle the avocado, add the syrup, lime, and lemon juice, and a dash of pepper. The pineapple is going to help smooth it out … put it on ice, shake that bad boy up, and put it into a margarita glass.

‘Vogue’ Cover Girl Liskula Cohen Sues Google

imageLiskula Cohen, a model who has posed for Armani and Versace as well as gracing the cover of Vogue, is suing Google over comments made by a blog hosted on the server. Specifically, the anonymous blogger in question dubbed Cohen the “#1 skanky superstar” following an incident in the bar at the Hudson Hotel where the doorman “was jailed after smashing her in the face with a vodka bottle,” says the New York Daily News. The site went on to call the model “a desperate ‘fortysomething’ who ‘may have been hot 10 years ago’.” Oh, yeah, and “desperation seeps from her soul, if she even has one.” Ouch, getting a bottle in the face aside, no one deserves to hear that. Besides, Cohen is only 36.

Cohen’s lawyer has called the blog’s antics “libelous” and “defamatory.” But whether or not a court will concur remains to be seen. While the suit is significant thanks to its raising of the issue of freedom of speech, it also suggests that the pressure felt by older models is enormous. Few of even the freshest faces are able to land jobs in their 30s, let alone their 40s, so being seen as over the hill can end your career. Models may have legs for days, but have some sympathy. Theirs is by no means an easy existence. That said, the quote on Cohen’s Friendster profile (yes, it still exists, people) reads: “Fuck with me, and you fuck with the whole damn trailer park!!” So, I guess that means she’s not exactly walking away with her tail between her legs.

How to Mix the Best New Year’s Eve Cocktails

Sure, you’ve been following the fun on our Mixology site, where BlackBook and Grey Goose recruited the best bartenders from New York and Los Angeles to whip up their signature drinks on camera, all while relating their own ideal New Year’s experience. But perhaps you really just want to see those recipes demonstrated point by point, shake by shake? Then check out the collected bonus clips above, which describe and demonstrate each drinkmaking experience in exacting detail. On tap: Cielo, Campbell Apartment, Hudson Bar, and Larry Lawrence in New York; and Ecco, The Edison, and Saints N’ Sinners in Los Angeles. Click the “MENU” button on the video player to access all seven clips. And don’t forget to thank the skilled shooters at Two Penguins Productions for making all this holiday cheer possible in the first place. Chin-chin.

NYE Mixology: Hudson Pear @ Hudson Bar, NYC

We’ve almost made it to New Year’s Eve, and the Mixology site brought to you by BlackBook and Grey Goose keeps rolling out the hits. Today’s choice beverage from the prime party venues of New York and Los Angeles is the Hudson Pear, courtesy of “Dr. Mixologist” at NYC’s Hudson Bar. Check out what the other Pros are cooking too.