Fourth of July Nightlife: Behind the Scenes

The Fourth of July weekend looms, ready to empty Manhattan of its denizens of the night. Quite a few people have cut out already, leaving club operators in a quandary. With so many of their regulars away in exotic lands, how do they generate income to pay their bills, and how do they make staffing decisions? In an age of instant awareness, clubs that are crowded will become known to people who find themselves in empty rooms. A text, a tweet, or a call has them scurrying to find the crowds, and a well-run and established club has a leg-up on competitors.

The smart clubs employ PR companies that get the name and image of their clients to the masses both locally and throughout the world. While Manhattanites are off to vacation hovels, New York City becomes a destination for millions who want to see the fireworks and enjoy the hot town. These tourists with no job to wake up to want to go out to party. They almost always have only a name from a celebrity sighting, a synopsis in a city guide, or the word of their hotel concierge to steer them to the right nightclub. These concierges are heavily swayed by what they read in Page Six and New York Magazine.

PR companies worth their salt keep the name of their clients out there. Nightlife sections of lifestyle magazines and blogs are constantly updated with images and blurbs to attract those not normally looped in. Concierge outreach programs are used by the smart venues. A rep from the club visits chic hotels regularly and establishes relationships.

During the normal course of business throughout the year, the guests of these concierges are given preferred treatment for entrance and often other incentive-filled deals, like discounts on bottles. These concierges are sometimes tipped back by clubs for sending spenders their way but get much of their loot from satisfied customers. On weeks like this, when tourist dollars are the salvation, these concierge programs can save the day. Tourists don’t have work for days to come and are raring to go, eager to spend beaucoup bucks in places they have been convinced are ultra exclusive.

The best joints in town will lower their standards to fill their rooms. It is an opportunity for those allergic to the Hamptons and other cricket-heavy lands to get into places that normally exclude them. It can set the tone for a relationship with a doorman and club staff and ease entry going forward. Door people welcome familiar faces who have proven themselves to behave "correctly.” A borderline "no" can become a consistent "yes" if an effort to impress is made. Operators have a hard time staffing long weekends. Their employees, like most people, have other places they’d rather be. Staff are told in advance to not even think about being MIA, as operators can’t predict how busy or not they will be.

I will see the fireworks from the roof of the Tribeca Grand Hotel where there are stirrings of a rebirth of its traditionally vibrant nightlife culture. I have attended a couple of swell events there recently and I hear word of more to come. It has always worked for me. Multiple rooms, great sound, delicious drinks and even food, and the sexiness of the atrium and rooms up above have made me a regular over many years.

On another note, I was completely captivated by the new Wes Anderson flick, Moonrise Kingdom. I advise you stop reading this right this second, leave your house, and head over to your nearest cinema and see this film. Hell, quit your job…go now. Yes, I am that age. Yes, I had one of those Davy Crockett hats and I was the nerdiest, bespeckled scout. The world of my New England summer youth is there to be seen. I even had an eternal love that lasted an entire summer. I camped out, was bullied and fought back, and thought I knew everything about the trees and the winds and the animals of my wooded universe by the infinite lake of our seasonal retreat.

I’ve gotta go…I’m gonna see it again.

From Usher to Jellyfish: What’s New & Strange At This Year’s Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks

Fourth of July has its formula: for the day, your kitschy red and blue shorts make a comeback, a ketchup-drenched burger and baked beans make their way to your paper plate, and there’s no stifling the requisite oohs-and-aahs amid the explosive fireworks show and orchestral Macy’s music. 

But this year, NYC is igniting Independence Day with some unprecedented, surprising, and bizarre features that don’t really make much logistical sense, but are happening any way. And that’s just the way we like ’em. Take a look:

1. Usher is the show’s "curator."
For the first time ever, Macy’s is collaborating with "a major superstar" on the show’s design and 26-minute score. Since Usher is syncing the fireworks with each musical beat, you can expect every half-naked dancer’s jiggle to be on-point with the high notes of Rihanna’s "Diamonds," Kanye’s "All Of The Lights," and each Justin Bieber song.

2. The show’s theme is "It Begins With A Spark." Talk about foreshadowing. 

3. The fireworks come straight from China, Malta, Portugal, and Spain.

4. Even the Empire State Building is syncing with the fireworks, flashing with each corresponding, colorful firework in the grand finale. 

5. There will be a new winking-happy face firework and a new jellyfish firework from China. The jellyfish whistles as it explodes and bursts open with butterflies. 

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A Vegan’s Guide to the Fourth of July

July 4th is usually a national holiday that vegans dread, considering it’s basically American tradition to have a backyard BBQ along with launching illegal fireworks from Chinatown while inebriated off one too many Pabst Blue Ribbons. It can be tempting to stay indoors, away from the rampant fumes from the burning of animal-flesh atop thousand-dollar Weber grills. But instead of sulking in the corner and watching another installment of Earthlings, use our handy guide to save your stomach…and your arteries.

 

Grillable Veggies Recipe (via Food Network)
Who says the grill is reserved for things with four legs? Plenty of vegetables taste delicious when roasted, achieving a state of smoked deliciousness, especially when marinated in the right sauces. My favorite way to grill veggies is to prep the veggies with an olive-oil mister, wrap them in foil (this also helps keep the veggies from touching a shared grill, which might have lingering traces of animal fat caked on) and grill till they get all caramelized, with the telltale grill lines.

Ingredients
3 red bell peppers, seeded and halved
3 yellow squash (about 1 pound total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
3 zucchini (about 12 ounces total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
3 Japanese eggplant (12 ounces total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
12 cremini mushrooms
1 bunch (1-pound) asparagus, trimmed
12 green onions, roots cut off
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Directions
Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare the barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush the vegetables with 1/4 cup of the oil to coat lightly, or use an olive oil mister to use less oil. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper, then spear them on a kabob stake. Working in batches, grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred all over, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers; 7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms; 4 minutes for the asparagus and green onions. Arrange the vegetables on a platter. The key to getting those great grill marks is to not shift the vegetables too frequently once they’ve been placed on the hot grill. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley, basil, and rosemary in a small bowl to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the herb mixture over the vegetables. Serve the vegetables, warm or at room temperature.

Grilled Cornbread (Via The Post Punk Kitchen)
Never underestimate the power of cornbread. This failsafe recipe will turn any baking-adverse individual into a master of maize… you literally just mix all the ingredients in a bowl and bake. Plus, grilled cornbread that has been drizzled with some luscious Earth Balance butter might just convince your non-vegan compadres into believers. Trust.

Ingredients
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups soymilk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 350, line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper or spray the bottom lightly with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, wisk together the soymilk and the vinegar and set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt). Add the oil and maple syrup to the soymilk mixture. Wisk with a wire wisk or a fork until it is foamy and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Pour the wet ingredient into the dry and mix together using a large wooden spoon or a firm spatula. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Slice into squares and serve warm or store in an airtight container.

Homemade Vegan Rib Grillers (Via Chef Mark Anthony)
I’ve always wrestled with the mock-meat conundrum: why eat products mimicking the texture and taste of real meat, when we’re against the very idea of meat? There’s a simple answer for it: because believe it or not, we’re human too, and we d miss the taste of it now and then. So we opt to satisfy our cravings with something that’s completely animal-friendly and tasty at the same time… and this homemade veggie rib recipe does just that. It’s a bit labor-intensive, but it really does taste great! I love how the recipe uses cinnamon sticks in place of the “rib” bone… it does double duty as a spice and an eating utensil!

Ingredients
¾ cup Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
¼ cup Rice Flour
1 cup water
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp Beefless Base/Vegetable broth
1 cup vegan BBQ sauce
6 Cinnamon sticks

Directions
Mix flours with garlic and onion. In a separate container, mix water with beefless base. Combine the two into a lose dough that doesn’t hold together. If it is holding together too tight, add some water. Spray a sheet pan.

Spread out the bottom first, about 1/4" thick and 2" by 3". Then place the cinnamon sticks on top. The next step is to put a duplicated layer of the gluten mixture on the top of the cinnamon stick and do a little pressing and forming to create a rib shaped rib looking produce.

Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 40 minutes, flipping the ribs every 10 minutes. Now they are ready to fridge, freeze or finish cooking. To finish cooking, splash with BBQ sauce and bake at 400 degrees for about 7 minutes on each side, or grill on the charbroiler, or pan fry to get some glazing on the ribs. This High cooking will give them the real rib look. You can also do another splashing of BBQ sauce right before serving. 

Where to Eat, Drink, and Be Patriotic This Fourth of July

Time to don your red, white, and blue and settle into this country’s most exciting holiday. The weather is perfect, and when else does your boss condone drinking cold beer, eating a lot of barbecue, and chilling out in the middle of the week? Since all your friends have the day off, too, it’s like Saturday on a Wednesday_ plus fireworks.

For the party animal, check out the waterfront at Pier 92, where not only is there a killer view of the pyrotechnics, but you get to munch on southern goodies by Virgil’s Real Barbecue while DJs like Hook N Sling and Ken Loi provide fodder for dancing. Hosted by ARRIVAL NYC, the 12-hour rooftop-beach party starts at noon and features performances by Lil Jon, a tanning deck, and, aside from the tasty barbecue, they will have grub from food trucks too, including Cupcake Crew, Milk Truck, Souvlaki GR, and Valducci’s Pizza. Tickets are available here.

Another great view of the fireworks can be taken in at Hotel Chantelle, where this rooftop bar has a full on barbecue party going on starting at 1pm and running late. In Times Square at the Sky Room, $100 gets you a spot in the highest rooftop lounge in the city, plus five an open bar and picnic-themed nibbles like pigs-in-a-blanket, burgers, chicken fingers, and potato chips.

At Beaumarchais, they will be celebrating the Fourth of July with a cookout and brunch party that goes into the evening. For your eating pleasure, chef David E. Diaz will be grilling up specials like honey-glazed shrimp skewers, and, for your listening enjoyment, DJ Marco Peruzzi will be spinning all night. If you want a more sit down celebration, 508 GastroBrewery debuts their tantalizing sloppy Joe menu just in time for the fourth. Plus, the Hudson River is right around the corner, making firework viewing easy, that is, if you can get up after the meaty feast.

Across the East River in Brooklyn, the artsy group Secret Project Robot hosts their IndepenDance, a party and potluck from 3 to 9pm, which includes reggae and dub music spun by DJ Sweet V, Grace of Spades, and Queen Majesty. In case you are too lazy to make food, nearby you can pick up tacos at Taqueria El Fogon or go super lowbrow and order a bucket of fried chicken from Kennedy Fried Chicken and Pizza.

Of course, it Macy’s annual firework display doesn’t move you, forget trying to get above ground and head to Coney Island. During the day, you can root for your favorite professional eater at Nathan’s Famous July Fouth International Hot Dog-Eating Contest. Grab a sausage and fries yourself from their outlet and, as the sky turns dark, head to the Wonder Wheel and see all the glittering lights of the amusement park, plus a few stray fireworks to boot. Happy Birthday, America. 

The Best Places to Watch the NYC Fireworks

Here at BlackBook, we take Independence Day pretty seriously. Not only is it a national holiday, but it’s also the only summer day we have off from work, thus presenting a wonderful excuse to indulge all day outside on charred, ketchup-drenched burgers, icy American beers, and semi-cheesy red/white/blue apparel. We’ve put together a list of our top five favorite places to witness that spectacular view of the fireworks and have a holiday that you won’t be able to stop thinking about the next day.