IT’S HUMP DAY: Get Sexy At GIRLS Exhibit & PB-Bacon Cocktail Spot

It’s Wednesday and you know what that means: we get our hump on. This weekly column is devoted to finding the hottest events across NYC that’ll arouse and titillate even the most jaded New Yorker. Partake in these shows and soirees – from a GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS exhibit to a classy, wine-filled literary event – and make the rest of your nights this week very sexy.

See photos of sexy girls doing things involving leather & cars:
Artist Katrina del Mar presents her GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS exhibit on the LES, which involves a bunch of photos, videos, and books displaying female archetypes, such as surfer girls, bike gangs, and girls playing in their bedrooms,  and girls with their dogs and tattoos. In signature Katrina fashion, the exhibit offers a fantasy, modern myth, and sets it in a grungy, urban environment, where violence merges into sex. Graphic, hyper-stylized sexually, and unapologetically feminist, a post-discussion over a drink and prime food is necessary. Hit up nearby, just-opened Lobster Joint at happy hour for $4 lobster sliders and a beer. Runs Wed-Sun, 12pm-7pm every day until Feb. 17th. Participant Inc, 253 E. Houston St. All details here. Inside-info on Lobster Joint here.

Eat peanut butter-and-bacon-topped burgers & drink peanut liqueur:
Just-opened Greenwich Village cocktail spot Rogue & Canon takes things to a whole other level, and by that, I do mean “puts peanut butter and bacon in everything.” We’re talking peanut butter and bacon-topped burgers and peanut liqueur, and even bacon bitters. This little bar has got the whole copper-ceiling, brick-walled appeal, and the skills to back it up. From the folks behind the James Hotel’s rooftop bar Jimmy, Rogue is definitely a walk-in-at-2am spot. So bring your date or fling; the night is young. Open now. 128 W. Houston St. Inside-info here.

Get turned on by smart people:
BAM’s series “Eat, Drink & Be Literary” is happening tonight, Jan. 23rd, and offers four things: a classy buffet dinner, wine, live music, and an intimate discussion from the literary scene’s top authors. Authors read their favorite passages of their work, debate with audience members, and give insight into their usually-secret creative process. Even if you’re not a literary fiend, it’s a good excuse to meet people, drink, and feel cultured simultaneously. 6:30pm. $50. Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn. All details here.

 

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

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Industry Insiders: Chad Campbell, Night Rider

With a capacity of just 110, Mister H at the Mondrian SoHo is one of the most exclusive nightclubs in Manhattan, but general manager Chad Campbell works hard to keep it humble. The Kansas City native, who traveled the world before helping to open such New York clubs as Top of the Standard and Jimmy at the James hotel, aims to create a cozy environment, where the 1930’s Shanghai design stimulates conversation among guests.

His welcoming approach can be seen in the eclectic crowd that fills the space every night, where bottle buyers and models rub elbows with actors, artists, and creative people of all stripes. “I’m looking to see who’s going to add something to the energy and vibe of the room,” he says. “We want it to be a social, unpretentious environment where people are inspired to talk to their neighbors with no confines.”

Hurricane Hell: 12 Great NYC Spots to Visit In Your Mind Today

Hurricane Sandy got you housebound? Don’t die of boredom, hit your liquor cabinet, think about all the great bars and restaurants in New York, and take a mental stroll through them all. To get you started, I’ve made a list of a dozen winners that I love. Check them out, agree or disagree, and then dream up a perfect NYC itinerary of your own. When the weather eventually improves, work through your list in real life. It’s like Imagination Christmas, and just as cheap. Continue on to our list of 12 New York Spots I Wish I Could Visit Today Instead of Being Stuck Inside Thanks to Hurricane Sandy

Hey, it beats playing solitaire by candlelight. 

Industry Insiders: Henri Binje, the Gatekeeper

With an eclectic background that stretches from Belgium to Ibiza to New York City, the multi-talented Henri Binje has seen nightlife from every angle, which probably explains his gracious approach to working two of the tightest doors in Manhattan, the Double Seven and Jimmy. We caught up with Binje to talk about nightlife, his acting career, his new clothing line, and a few other secrets of his trade.

Where are you from, and what were you into as a kid? 
I was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. I was a very social kid, had lots of friends, and was into sports, soccer, tennis … and partying. 
 
How did you get involved in nightlife? 
When I started going out at the age of 17 it was the beginning of the house music craze in Belgium — it was called "new beat" back in those days — and people were coming from everywhere in Europe to dance to it because the house music scene was huge in Belgium (not to mention that there were ecstasy labs all over the country). I discovered Ibiza with my twin sister and some friends during summer vacation in 1990 and it changed our lives. We had such an amazing time there that we decided to come back the following year to start working for clubs promoting  parties on the island during our school breaks. 
 
How long did that last? 
We were so hooked on the magical island vibe that we end up doing full summer seasons in Ibiza for the next eight years. It was during one of those seasons that I met some friends who were managing Spy Bar in New York [the first club to introduce bottle service] at the time. They invited me to work with them in New York. At the time I was going out with a girl who was from New York as well. And that’s how it got started. 
 
What was it like going from working at clubs in Ibiza to New York? 
The nightlife scene in New York was a lot more fun at the time. In 1998 clubs like Limelight, Twilo, Shelter, Vinyl, Life, Chaos, and Lot 61 were still around, and after-parties were still happening all over the town. New York still had a lot of glamour and decadence. Doing the door of a club at that time was mind blowing. Every night was an adventure. Now things have changed a lot. It’s a lot more commercial out there.
 
What is it about nightlife that you find so enticing? 
Music has always been a part of my life, especially after all those years spent in Ibiza. It became a lifestyle for me and my friends. We always had a dream of opening a club here in New York that would bring that Balearic house vibe, and we actually ended up realizing it when we opened Cielo in 2003. Unfortunately, business and friendship is not always the best mix and we ended up splitting a couple of years after that.
 
You’re also an actor, with credits in such films as Zoolander and Hitch. When did you begin acting?
I caught the acting bug very early when I had a role in a primary school play called "Le Petit Prince de St. Exupery." That led to other plays. I loved being on stage as a kid. So acting has always been a dream of mine. I had been taking some acting classes in London before I arrived in NYC. When I booked a job at my first audition (Zoolander) and become a SAG actor in the process I realized that I could really do this. I had to do an improvisation scene on the call back with Ben Stiller, who was directing and was my actual partner in the movie. It was awesome.
 
What exactly do you do now?
After taking nearly a year off from nightlife and traveling in India to recharge my batteries I came back to New York to run the doors of the Double Seven and Jimmy. I also decided to focus a lot of my energy on my acting, as well as Young Liberators, a T-shirt line that a friend and I created last year.
 
What my average day like for you?
Depending if there’s a casting or an audition I’ll either wake up really early or else at around 11 am. I have a class of some kind almost every day. It might be an acting class, a yoga class or a Muay Thai boxing session. Even if I am working in nightlife it’s very important for me to still wake up early enough to get things done during the day. I am not a vampire. I need my daily sunlight.
 
What do you enjoy the most working in nightlife, and what are some of the challenges? 
The social aspect of it is really amazing as you meet people from so many different social classes and backgrounds. The challenge is definitely dealing with the rejection process when I work the door. People are not always very understanding when they can’t get inside, and some take it way too personally, which is never the case.
 
When you work the door at a place like Double Seven, how do you decide who gets in and who doesn’t? 
On a regular night it’s like creating a mixed salad of interesting people. Believe it or not, beauty is not the most important thing, it’s a lot more about personality and the way you present yourself. Humility and kindness go a long way. 
 
How do you let people down gently? 
Turning people away is never easy. As humans we are all sensitive, and many people have big egos. You can be as polite as you can be, but some people have a hard time hearing that they can’t get in and take the word No as the ultimate insult.  I always try my best to be as polite, understanding, and compassionate as I can be. It’s a very delicate process sometimes.
 
Tell me about Young Liberators. 
Young Liberators is a T-Shirt line that my partner and I had the idea of creating about two years ago. It’s about raising our level of consciousness through liberating the spirits and strengthening the minds of the people. It’s about uplifting, reaffirming, and enlightening. The idea came from an old magazine about Harlem in the ‘70s that we found at the Brooklyn flea market. The goal is to create a full clothing line and make it global.
 
What acting jobs do you have lined up?
I just booked a part in a French movie called "PEPLVM" by Christophe Perie. It’s a survival comedy. They’re still financing it, but hopefully that will be complete this summer and we’ll start production soon after.
 
What advice would you give to a young person looking to follow your footsteps?
Believe in yourself, become your dreams, and never let go of them
 
What are your plans for the summer?
I’ll be taking a month of vacation to go visit my twin sister Shanty and friends in Ibiza! It’s an annual ritual. There is nothing like going back to the source. 
 

Aasif Mandvi Gets To Know the Cocktails of Summer 2012

Aasif Mandvi meets me on the exceedingly pleasant pool deck at Jimmy, a posh cocktail lounge on the 18th floor of the James hotel in lower Manhattan popular with models, actors, and bewildered European tourists. It’s late afternoon and the sun is high in a cloudless sky, taking its sweet time floating across the Hudson before disappearing somewhere in western New Jersey. Johnny Swet, who runs the cocktail program at Jimmy—and also owns, with Larry Poston, the elegant Hotel Griffou—is going over with us the details of the evening’s cocktails, a collection of summer drinks that represent innovative takes on the classics as well as a few new ideas. 

It’s an appropriately sophisticated way for Mandvi to break his fast. The actor, comedian, and writer has been teetotal for six months, going on a self-imposed booze hiatus to focus on his creative pursuits, of which there are many. He’s a regular correspondent for The Daily Show, interviewing "crazy people and racists" across the country and trading quips with Jon Stewart. He’s been acting in a number of movies, from Premium Rush with Joseph Gordon Levitt, to Gods Behaving Badly with Christopher Walken, to Ruby Sparks with Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan. He even had a "teeny weeny role" in Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator. He’s been promoting the DVD release of his 2010 romantic comedy Today’s Special, including taping a "culinary tour of New York" that aired on the Cooking Channel. And he’s been writing an as-yet-untitled book. 
 
"It’s a collection of essays about my life, my childhood in England, both pre-9/11 and post-9/11 America, and growing up as a brown kid of Muslim origin," he says. So what’s it like growing up as a brown kid of Muslim origin? "You’ll have to wait for the book," he adds. "Or just watch Fox News, they know what it’s like."  What we know, however, is that there are seven sublime cocktails that await our critique, so we head inside to a corner banquette, as Mandvi deftly parries the advances of a teetering fan ("Oh my god, are you on The Daily Show? What’s your name?") and tastes the sweet elixir of al-kuḥl that he denied himself for half a year. The results are enlightening. 
 
Curious George
Muddle a 2 inch chunk of ripe banana with ½ oz lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, 2 oz Linie Aquavit, and ½ oz simple syrup. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh cubed ice. Add a dash of St. George Absinthe Verte and a dash of chocolate bitters. 
 
"I love the licorice taste in this. To use a musical metaphor, it has a nice bass line to it. It has substance and weight. The banana adds to the tactile experience. It’s like an alcoholic smoothie, and you get your potassium."
 
Blair Witch Cocktail
In a tall glass, pour 2 oz Original Moonshine, ½ oz lime juice, and ½ oz Velvet Falernum. Add cubed ice and top with birch beer. Stir and garnish with fresh bay leaf and brandied cherries. 
 
"It reminds me of Dandelion and Burdock, a drink I had growing up in England. It makes me want to watch The Blair Witch Project again. I think that if you drank this cocktail and then watched the movie it would make more sense. Whenever I hear moonshine it makes me think of The Dukes of Hazzard. Cocktails in general have a femininity to them but this is a man’s drink." 
 
Rosarito Beach Margarita
Muddle two fresh strawberries with a sprig of cilantro in a rocks glass. Add 2 oz Herradura Silver Tequila, ½ oz agave nectar, and ½ oz lime juice. Add crushed ice and stir until frosty. Garnish with a strawberry slice and a sprig of cilantro. 
 
"I like the cilantro, it’s kind of minty. I usually drink margaritas when I’m trying to get laid. I’m a big fan of tequila. Margaritas just make me happy, this one especially. It looks like an aquarium of strawberries." 
 
Going Back to Cali
Muddle 3 chunks of avocado in a shaker with 3/4 oz of lime juice. Add ice, 1/2 oz of Tuaca Vanilla Citrus Liqueur, and 2 oz of aged rum. Shake hard and fine strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
 
"This has a custardy feeling to it. It’s like a meal. Very creamy. Like a salad and a dessert mixed in one. I feel like I’m eating Key lime pie out of a martini glass. There’s something very soothing about it." 
 
Summer Negroni
In an ice-filled rocks glass add 1 oz Nolet’s Gin, 1 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, and 1 oz Campari. Stir and garnish with an orange peel. To make it extra sexy use one large block of ice instead of cubed ice.
 
"This is ayurvedic. It’s a sipper. It’s a very grown-up cocktail. I may actually be too immature for this cocktail. There’s a bitter quality to it, it has an edge. It’s businesslike. You’re at the Soho House signing contracts with this one. I like things that have a huge chunk of ice in the middle, like me." 
 
Grapes of Wrath
In a tall glass muddle 3 green grapes. Add 2 oz of Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka, 3/4 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, and 1/2 oz of lemon juice. Add ice and stir in club soda. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
 
"It’s so refreshing you could swim in this cocktail. This is one of my favorites. It feels fun, like I’m out by the pool. It feels like summer to me, like lemonade. It puts me on a raft in a pool in Miami."
 
Grilled Pineapple Mojito
Muddle 6 mint leaves and 6 chunks of grilled pineapple in a shaker. Add 2 ounces Barbancourt Haitian rum, 1 oz pineapple juice, and ½ oz lime juice. Dry shake and strain into a tall glass. Add crushed ice and stir. Garnish with mint and a slice of grilled pineapple.
 
"When I look at this I think of Africa. It might be my favorite cocktail of the evening. This is like a crocodile. No, I take that back, it’s not like a crocodile, but there’s a deadliness to it. It reminds me of a girl I knew who looked slutty but was actually very sweet. I want to say it’s dirty. It looks like swamp water and tastes like fun."
 
[Photo: Yves Salmon]

Industry Insiders: Mark Strausman, Johnny Swet, and Larry Poston

When Johnny Swet (left) and Larry Poston (right) opened Hotel Griffou in New York’s Greenwich Village in 2009, it immediately attracted a host of bold-faced names to the eclectic, exotic space that brings to mind a 19th century boardinghouse. With its reputation firmly established, the duo decided to push things even further last year by bringing on board a dynamic new chef with a serious pedigree. With experience in restaurants in both Europe and the U.S., including the much loved Fred’s at Barneys New York and his own Agriturismo in the Hudson Valley, Mark Strausman (center) brings a new touch of creativity to the Griffou kitchen, while continuing to turn out the dishes that made it a neighborhood favorite. 

What do you have planned for the menu at Hotel Griffou? Mark Strausman: I came on board in mid-September and wanted to make the food a little bit more approachable. I’m someone who believes that when you take over a space, you have to remember what the space was before you got there. And it was very loose before I got there, kind of like a downtown speakeasy but with a little bit of an Italian and a little bit of a fish thing going on. So my idea was to make good Italian country food that people could share, but keep it in the New York vein. I wanted to do something fun, so we’re doing individual pizzas made the artisanal southern Italian way, with handmade dough and really good farm ingredients. I have a restaurant in the Hudson Valley and I bring down the hamburger, I bring down the suckling pig from the Valley. We’ll also have sliced, cured, and dried meats – the kinds of things that people can eat with Johnny’s cocktails, and go well with a glass of wine.

 
What’s your restaurant in the Hudson Valley called?
MS: It’s called Agriturismo, and I still run Fred’s at Barneys New York. I’ve been at Fred’s for 15 years, I’m the managing director there. It’s a very upscale, white table cloth kind of place. So when the opportunity at Griffou came along, I thought Wow, what a great thing to have a downtown restaurant. That’s kind of different. Creatively, it’s fun.
 
What is the difference between a white table cloth uptown place compared to a downtown place like Griffou?
MS: You’ve got to keep it simpler. At Fred’s we can do things at dinner more elegantly, with an elaborate table service. Here the tables are smaller and we have fewer deuces coming in and more parties of four women together or four guys together, just hanging out, and the food is really good, or course, but it doesn’t get in the way, it’s not fussy. At Fred’s it’s a little bit more international, we have people from all over the world over there. 
 
What’s it like working with Johnny Swet and Larry Poston?
MS: I thought it was a fun challenge and I really hit it off with these guys. I respect their sensibility, and they were just looking for good food. What I love is, I don’t have to worry about the front of the house because you got Larry and Johnny out there, so it’s a great team. I can just concentrate on the food and the kitchen and not have to worry about who’s sitting where and all that stuff. And I love the staff they had in place. My whole thing is, I don’t want to put anyone on unemployment. Everyone said, “You’re going to bring your own crew.” But this is New York City. People have rent to pay, no one can follow you, and we really didn’t lose anybody. Anyway, what do you want to lose a cook for? He knows where the lemons are! They’re good guys, they’re really generous and easygoing.
 
Where did you grow up?
MS: I grew up in a city housing project in Queens. I have a degree in hotel management. I worked in Europe for four years, in Amsterdam and Germany.
 
What was that like?
MS: It was all classical French cooking. We had so many white truffles in that hotel in Germany. We used to get five kilos at a time of white truffles, you could smell them down the block. You know, because the Germans are real gourmands.
 
Are there any particular ingredients you like working with?
MS: We have a purveyor that we buy wild mushrooms from, and I love working with mushrooms like chanterelles and porcinis. Right now I’m trying to work with as many local ingredients as possible and then getting a few things from Italy, like these amazing wild dandelions that are grown outside of Rome. I always say, eat as much local as you can and then you don’t have to worry about the carbon footprint. When everything on your menu is coming from all the way around the world it’s not cool. I prefer to use pears this time of year instead of raspberries, things like that. 
 
Johnny, how has it been working with Mark so far? 
Johnny Swet: I think things are working out well and Mark brings a maturity and a great reputation throughout the city – people know his food. We’ve always been kind of a fashionable downtown spot and with Mark working up at Barneys and that crowd also, now there’s a place to have his food downtown, so that’s exciting. It seems like kind of the missing link. It fits together well.
 
Do you have any favorites on the new menu?
JS: I love the suckling pig, and I love all the pastas. What I like about the menu is that you can come down three different nights a week and try completely different dishes each time. It’s all about how you really want to eat, which is great with the cocktail program we have. When you’re sitting down at the table and you see people eating and smiling and talking and they’re just caught up in the moment it’s just what you want a restaurant to be. 
 
Are you just focused on Griffou right now, or do you spend a lot of time at Jimmy?
JS: Yeah, Griffou’s my baby. I love Jimmy because it’s a fun diversion for creativity with all the cocktails, but my main focus is Griffou.
 
Larry, how are you feeling with Mark coming aboard? 
Larry Poston: I loved all of our other chefs in the past, they’re great guys, but you do get an amazing sense of experience and know-how from Mark. Also, I like that he’s been a chef in New York City for a long time and has a loyal following, not just customers but people he’s worked with. It’s a very small world, I suppose. We get to know each other the longer we live in New York City. The restaurant business is tricky for anyone and you have to have a sense of humor about it, and Mark has what it takes.

Roofs on Fire: Rooftop Bars Are a Proven Hit

As packed venues at A60Jimmy, and Le Bain have proven, rooftop bars were the year’s top hotel trend, according to a new report released by Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. It covered a number of aspects of the New York City hotel scene, but the rooftop bar was by far the most dominant new trend. Pioneered by boutique properties but recently embraced by bigger chains, it’s not hard to see why. a good rooftop space can bring in up to $120 per square foot in peak months, translating to profits up to 50%.

There are a few factors that make these bars successful, including a large enough space (the flat, pre-war rooftops of New York buildings are the perfect setting) and a killer view, of which New York City has many. And in a city where other kinds of development and additions are curtailed, it’s a logical way to expand as well as offer something of value to your customers. And the trend is spreading:  “The concept has caught on in other U.S. gateway markets like Miami, Chicago, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, as well as international hubs,” says Amelia Lim, Executive Vice President of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. 

Industry Insiders: David Rabin, Johnny Swet, & Larry Poston of Jimmy at the James

When you ask three nightlife veterans to transform the top of one of New York’s most fashionable new hotels into an intimate lounge, the result is bound to be exciting. But with the opening of Jimmy at The James hotel in Soho, David Rabin (center), Johnny Swet (left), and Larry Poston (right) have created nothing less than an 18th-floor paradise, with original art on the walls, creative cocktails on the menu, and breathtaking views of lower Manhattan from every seat in the house.

Jimmy is the latest in a string of successful nightspots for Rabin, who left a career as a lawyer to open Rex in 1990. Its success quickly led to other endeavors, including the first western-style nightclub in Moscow. (“I still haven’t told my mother half the stories,” Rabin says.) Back in New York, he and his business partner opened now-classic venues Union Bar, Lotus, Double Seven, and the Lambs Club. When approached about Jimmy, Rabin jumped at the chance, provided he could bring along two uniquely creative talents. “I was blown away by what Johnny and Larry created at Hotel Griffou,” Rabin says.

Swet’s introduction to the nightlife industry came just days after moving to New York from Los Angeles, landing a job at the Bowery Bar on the day it opened. “They said, ‘That’s your table,’ and Courtney Love was sitting there. I was like, I think I’m going to like this.” He was soon working with Keith McNally to open restaurants Balthazar and Pastis, and eventually became the general manager of Freemans. But it was the exclusive West Village boîte Hotel Griffou, which he opened with Pastis maître d’ Poston in 2009, that made him a perfect fit for Jimmy.

A native of North Carolina, Poston began his career as an actor in LA, which led to a job as a pool boy at the Chateau Marmont, passing out towels to Julia Roberts and once dropping a full room-service tray in front of André Balazs. He made the move to New York, learning the ropes at Pastis and Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn. While it’s not even six months old, JImmy is already looking like a downtown institution, drawing a healthy mix of New Yorkers, hotel guests, and celebrities. The party is even better during the summer, as the outdoor terrace and pool deck let the fun spill out under the stars.

[Photo: Brett Moen]

Industry Insiders – Three’s a Party with David Rabin, Johnny Swet, & Larry Poston

When you ask three nightlife veterans to transform the top of one of New York’s most fashionable new hotels into an intimate lounge, the result is bound to be exciting. But with the opening of Jimmy at the James hotel in Soho, David Rabin (center), Johnny Swet (left), and Larry Poston (right) have created nothing less than an 18th-floor paradise, with original art on the walls, creative cocktails on the menu, and breathtaking views of lower Manhattan from every seat in the house.

Jimmy is the latest in a string of successful nightspots for Rabin, who left a career as a lawyer to open Rex in 1990. Its success quickly led to other endeavors, including the first western-style nightclub in Moscow. (“I still haven’t told my mother half the stories,” Rabin says.) Back in New York, he and his partner opened now-classic venues Union Bar, Lotus, Double Seven, and the Lambs Club. When approached about Jimmy, Rabin jumped at the chance, provided he could bring along two uniquely creative talents. “I was blown away by what Johnny and Larry created at Hotel Griffou,” Rabin says.

Swet’s introduction to the nightlife industry came just days after moving to New York from Los Angeles, landing a job at the Bowery Bar on the day it opened. “They said, ‘That’s your table,’ and Courtney Love was sitting there. I was like, I think I’m going to like this.” He was soon working with Keith McNally to open the restaurants Balthazar and Pastis, and eventually became the general manager of Freemans. But it was the exclusive West Village boite Hotel Griffou, which he opened with Pastis maitre d’ Poston in 2009, that made him a perfect fit for Jimmy.

A native of North Carolina, Poston began his career as an actor in LA, which led to a job as a pool boy at the Chateau Marmont, passing out towels to Julia Roberts and once dropping a full room-service tray in front of Andre Balazs. He made the move to New York, learning the ropes at Pastis and Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn.

While it’s not even a year old, Jimmy is already looking like a downtown institution, drawing a healthy mix of New Yorkers, hotel guests, and celebrities. The party will only get better this summer, as the outdoor terrace and pool deck let the fun spill out under the stars.

[Photo: Brett Moen]