Miami Itinerary: The Bachelor Party

Oh, ye old time tested and treasured art of the Bachelor Party. A rite of passage. It signifies an end of one era, heralds another, and reveals just how brilliant or sleazy your male counterparts may be (as if you didn’t already know). Some celebrate with strippers, steak, and one-night stands. Others keep it classy, opting for a day of golf, steak, and cigars. Whatever your forte, gentlemen, South Beach on the Ocean Drive home stretch has this male bonding event covered. A little bit cheesy, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. Let the male bonding commence.

Stay: The Clevelander. Enough debauchery for your cousin; enough class for your fiancé’s brother.

Friday 9 p.m.: Arrive to Miami International Airport and prepare for a Rock Star host — your Clevelander concierge for the weekend — to pick you up in a fully stocked H2 limousine. 10 p.m.: 1020 Music Boxx. The signature Lynchburg lemonade and margarita pitchers should put you in the right mindset for the evening, or perhaps will render you mindless, which are essentially one and the same condition. 12:30 a.m.: The Florida Room. Suitably tipsy, the Lucite piano and the fact that Lenny Kravitz designed it will all start to make sense.

Saturday 10 a.m.: You may have taken advantage of all that Miami nightlife has to offer into the wee morning hours, but do yourself a favor and unwind on SPF4, The Clevelander’s small open-air deck overlooking the pool and beach for your eating and lounging pleasure. Order up Becca’s Egg Sandwich — a hearty bacon, egg, cheese, and pesto sandwich on San Francisco-style sourdough toast. Down several Bloody Marys and you’ll be back in action. 12 p.m.: Have your Rock Star concierge hook you up with Jet Skis for you and your troupe. Charge it to the room so the best man can pay for it later. 3 p.m.: News Cafe. Spinach dip and sandwiches after water sports. Feel like a local with the other tourists. 4:30 p.m.: Splash Model Showcase. Watch a weekly bathing suit competition from under the Yogurt Bar back at The Clevelander. You can promise your wife-to-be that you never went to a strip club! 8 p.m.: Kobe Club. Shower and after shave on, it’s time to eat, and really eat here; a den of dark leather, steak, and steel weaponry. When the boys get together, these things must be involved. 10 p.m.: Casa Tua. You’re in Miami — may as well try to weasel your way into this clandestine Mediterranean-style beach house for a pre-drink with the boys. Everyone (whether famous or fame-challenged) eventually drops by for a drink. Do as the everyones do. 11 p.m.: LIV. This is why you’ve come to Miami. The ‘Bleau has opened a Vegas-style megaclub for SoBe, the type of place where you could see Brit losing her stuff next to Hilton and Kardashian, and you’ll inevitably find yourself in a long bathroom line. Party like a rock star all the way back to your rock star suite.

Sunday 11 a.m.: Ice Box. You’re feeling like you might want to stick your head in an icebox. Cozy up to the classic comfort food until you and your mates are comfortable once again. Cream cheese French toast should soak up the syrup and everything else you did last night. 1 p.m.: Richard Petty Driving Experience. Sure, you could golf, but judging from last night you’re in the business of making bad decisions, and jumping into a tiny race car sans air-conditioning is a bad idea — until you and your groomsmen are barreling down the Homestead-Miami Speedway at 160mph. Then it’s a great idea. 5 p.m.: One last drink at Plunge. The roof pool promises lots of ladies in bikinis providing one last look at all that South Beach is most known for.

Industry Insiders: Jeffrey Chodorow, Fusion Fan

Jeffrey Chodorow, owner of China Grill, Asia de Cuba, Kobe Club, Ono, and other esteemed global eateries, dishes on Schrager, disses on DiSpirito, then row-row-rows his colorful boat ashore. Point of Origin: I was born in the Bronx, but my father died the year I was born, so my mother and I moved to Miami. I grew up in Miami Beach, where we lived with her sister. They were both manicurists in a Cuban barbershop, and they used to go to Havana for the weekend — which, incidentally, is how Asia de Cuba eventually came to be. I opened China Grill because I knew the Asian and Cuban pantry, so it seemed like a natural. I grew up very poor in a very wealthy Miami area where we went through school drills, hiding under our desks during the Cuban missile crisis. Some friends built a bomb shelter in their property which was nicer than our apartment! This was before Castro came in.

Occupations: With my very logical legal background, I got seduced by the restaurant business in Los Angeles. I was supposed to buy a football team, and I met this guy at Spago. The next day, I was having a meeting with the bank that had the stadium in Foxboro, and we stopped at Chinois on Main in Santa Monica. Next thing I knew, I was back in New York, opening China Grill. The guy who had the lease where I wanted the restaurant at 20th and 6th reneged, and another friend who was a broker had a space available immediately under the CBS building at 6th and 52nd. I hated it. It was shaped like a dumbbell, a big barn with a narrow corridor, but the architect said we could make it work. I made two decisions that, in hindsight, were the major factors in the success of China Grill: I moved the entrance from 52nd to 53rd, across from MoMA and the Hilton. At that time, all the customers came from the Upper East Side for the nighttime business. All my friends in the restaurant business said “Four restaurant have failed there,” and I was obligated to be open for lunch. I figured the way to get people in there for dinner was to exempt the first six months from lunch, so when it opened, it only opened for dinner. All the people at CBS complained! I needed to force people to come for dinner, and eventually opened for lunch.

Everybody in the industry speculates that you and Ian Schraeger met in jail. Yes? No? This whole episode is a weird story-in-a-story. By 1987, Ian Schraeger and Steve Rubell were already out of the Morgans Hotel and into the Royalton; their financiers were doing a building up on 6th Avenue. They were supposed to do the restaurant with Brian McNally, but they couldn’t get a liquor license (Brian didn’t have any money at the time), so they wanted to meet me. They came and asked if I’d like to do 44 in the Royalton for them. I met Steve first. We share a passion for Twizzlers licorice, and there was a jar in his office. Then I met Ian. They both told me the story of how the Royalton was going to be the next generation of a social gathering. The whole thing sort of seduced me into the mix. It was like oil and water, but they put up all of the money for everything but the liquor license. I don’t know why this was, but Ian said, “We’ll put up all the money for the hotel, and you put up all of the money to open the restaurant (payroll, graphics, etc).” There was a hitch. They wanted me to buy a Phillipe Starck hostess stand, a kind of Winged Victory of burled walnut that was tapered from the top down. It cost $30,000. Ian said, “Look, Jeff, if you want to do the deal, you’ve got to buy the stand.” It was impractical, there was no top, there was no drawer space, there was no place for the phone — I had to put Velcro on it — but it was a gorgeous piece of furniture. I put the stand next to the hotel column, so when you enter the hotel, you look down the blue carpet and see this beautiful piece of furniture.

China Grill in Manhattan was on fire, too and before long, Ian called me, “Nobody said the idea wouldn’t travel; how about you do the space in Morgans Hotel? I know it’s a bad location, but I’ll give you a fabulous deal.” I only made one condition after the Royalton: I wasn’t enjoying it because I felt pigeonholed to do a hotel restaurant. I called Ian and told him that I wanted to do a restaurant in a hotel, not a hotel restaurant. The deal was done. Jefferson Carey was my first chef of Asia de Cuba, and I felt the menu had to be a certain type. At the time there was no fusion, so it was revolutionary in those days. But I thought if I could create demand from outside the hotel, it would work. I was set on Chino Latino restaurants. He was amazed. He had just gotten engaged, and his fiancé was Cuban. Later, the New York Times said the newest thing was a Nuevo Latino restaurant — mine. Meanwhile, Brian had opened in Ian’s Delano in Miami, and it was doing good business, but doing no money. So Ian asked me to take it over in 1996. It became Asia de Cuba.

Any non-industry projects in the works? I would say, I’m interested mostly in food related things, my other big interest is IICA contemporary art at [alma mater] Penn, and I have donated a reasonable amount of money to the school. My son was also at Penn and is interested in contemporary art, plus I thought it was an opportunity to do something. Also, there are a lot of creative people out there … great cooks who aren’t chefs. Ask Rocco [DiSpirito], one of the contestants on Dancing with the Stars!

Favorite Hangs: My favorite hangouts are not all in New York. I love some of the Cuban places in Miami like Yakosan, a place in North Miami Beach, a Japanese tapas bar with all small plates. I like quirky things. They also have spaghetti bolognese; all of the sushi chefs hang out there. I like Versailles; Ciochi, the place on Sixth and Collins, a Cuban hole-in-the-wall for the Cuban sandwiches and black bean soup, and the Latin American Cafe. In New York, the Cuban hangouts like Park Blue with its list of half-bottles of wine and phenomenal drinks; Sakagura on 43rd between 2nd and 3rd, on the north side of the street, in a white office building … on the floor there’s a little sign for Sakagura. You walk past the front desk to the fire exit and down the stairs to the wooden door that leads to the sake bar. No sushi, just small plates of Japanese food, across from Sushi Yasuda. In the basement, it’s all surprise. I like the old style places. I love Dan Tana’s in LA. I love Nanni’s on 46th. Old time places … they’re not trying to do anything modern. There are certain dishes on the menu where the food is great. They’re hangouts I gravitate to — the old stuff. I try all the new stuff.

Industry Icons: I think the reason my relationship with Ian works so well is that we had so much mutual respect for each other. He gave me the ability to think beyond what I knew. I realized when I got back together with him that if you looked at it objectively, it would make no sense, but he was so successful that you couldn’t pick it apart as to what made it so successful. When I opened Asia de Cuba in Morgans Hotel, he wanted to send out a postcard. So I get the mock-up, and the front is like a beautiful photo of Morgans with three doors, a great postcard. The estimated price was $80,000 — and it was 1997! I almost fell off my chair. That was why our relationship worked: It may not have made sense to me, but if he felt passionate, I respected his vision and he respected my business acumen. Ian Schrager and Drew Nieporent, we’re all battling the same battles. I have tremendous respect for them, and I don’t view it as competition. I feel that we’re just up against the same thing.

Who are some people you’re likely to be seen with? I think I’m kind of a private person. I’d rather spend time with my family than anybody. Of course, we socialize, but there’s nobody in particular that I spend an inordinate amount of time with.

Projections: Right now, I’m very focused on international, and I want to do India and China. I just got back from Monte Carlo. It’s such an international place, and you wouldn’t know there was a global community there.

What are you doing tonight? Last night, I took my wife to Georgica Pond for three hours with lobster. I was on the phone the entire day and I was actually impressed that I could row that far! But I was an Eagle Scout and had a canoeing badge. Tonight, I’m having dinner with my eldest son who graduated from Wharton last year, and is going to law school. I’ve offered him a job! We opened the Kobe Beach Club in the Hamptons next to the Lily Pond, and he decided to open Kobe Hot Dogs! When I was doing Ono, he was closely watching! He went out and got the equipment, brought the chef and the relishes and these special iced teas and a papaya drinks … he’s a bright kid. I have a 19-year-old who wants to be a sushi chef. He’s at his first year at Boston University. A few years ago he wanted an apprenticeship in Tokyo in a sushi restaurant in the Chanel building. So being a foodie has really paid off for the whole family.

Miami: Top 5 Most Anticipated Openings

imageShiny. New. Can we play with it?

1. Florida Room at the Delano Designer Lenny Kravitz makes old school new again. Super tight entry for live music that shifts to latenight DJ tracks. 2. Gansevoort South Bringin’ the party to vaunted 1926 landmark. Rooftop pool packs more heat than even the New York original. 3. Pacific Time Chef Jonathan Eismann finally reopened his famous Pan-Asian haunt. Trendier Design District incarnation trumps Old South Beach version.

4. Domo Japones New eatery run by Buck15/Miss Yip’s and Bond St. peeps. Fish is proper and the scene pops ’til 2am every night. 5. Kobe Club SoBe outpost finally opens to pamper globe-trotting movie moguls, Miami scene makers, and splurging snowbirds tucked into secluded booths.

Summer Cocktails: NYC, LA, Miami, Chicago

It’s easy enough to ignore the avalanche of press releases one receives on a daily basis, but there are often gemstones among the rough. For example — a branded “hot list” collection of summer cocktails may be refined and expanded, since it happens to include some our favorite places (and beverages) in four cities nationwide. Check it out, and chillax.

Hennessy Fire-Five, Rooftop Lounge of the Empire Hotel Manhattanites can sip the Hennessy Fire-Five martini while absorbing floor-to-ceiling views of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Central Park, and Lincoln Center. With alleged frequenters such as Kim Cattrall, Kelly Ripa, Jimmy Fallon, Teri Hatcher, A-Rod, Kim Raver, and Lindsay Price, the luxurious rooftop lounge and outdoor patio is the perfect setting to watch a summer evening sunset while sipping perfection.

• 1.5 oz. Hennessy V.S • 0.75 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice • 0.5 oz. agave nectar • 2 dashes Chipotle Tabasco • 1 oz. Moët Brut Champagne Combine all ingredients except champagne; add ice, shake, and strain into a martini glass. Top with champagne, garnish with an aurora pepper.

Ginger Cucumber Martini, Bungalow Club Enjoy this signature cocktail from the scencester Los Angeles nightspot.

• 1 oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur • 3 oz. vodka • 1 oz. triple sec • 1 oz. Lemon and lime juices • 1-2 fresh organic cucumbers • 1-2 lemons Muddle cucumber and lemons; shake with canton, vodka, triple sec, lemon and lime juices. Pour into martini glass. Garnish with sliced cucumber.

Oronoco Rum Mojito, Kobe Club Get wild in the madness of Miami with the Oronoco Rum Mojito; fans reportedly include Jennifer Lopez, Lance Bass, Jamie Foxx, and Maria Bello. Available at Jeffrey Chodorow’s posh Japanese-inspired steakhouse, revelers can mix and mingle at the high-end eatery and enjoy the Miami sunset in the outdoor dining garden.

• 1 oz. Oronoco Rum • 3 fresh-cut lime wedges • 8 fresh-cut mint leaves • 1 tsp. sugar • 2 oz. fresh lime juice • 2 oz. soda water • sugar cane In a tall glass, muddle mint leaves, 2 lime wedges, and sugar. Fill glass with cracked ice. Pour in Oronoco Rum, lime juice, and soda. Stir gently. Garnish with a lime wedge and sugar cane.

Lemonade Martini, Martini Park Make lemonade grown-up style with this Lemonade Martini recipe from Chicago’s Near North Side.

• 1 oz. Bacardi Limón • 0.5 oz. limoncello • 0.5 oz Navan Van Cognac • 1 oz. lemonade • lemon slice Sugar the rim of a martini glass, shake mixture, pour into chilled martini glass, and add a lemon wheel for garnish.

Manhattan Nightlife Marathon: From Here to Kobe

“I’ve got too much on my plate,” a buxom blonde whines over a mound of Kobe beef in a slick corner booth at the Kobe Club. She has no idea. In one night we’re tempted to traipse through most of Manhattan, fitting in Richie Rich’s Rox and Riley Footwear Launch Party at 205 downtown, uptown to the Kobe Club to celebrate the opening of Kobe Beach Club uptown, chat up Eva Mendes at Calvin Klein, and gawk at the Bravo Awards after-party. We certainly have a lot on our plate tonight, and it’s not sirloin.

image The first person we spy outside of 205 is the iconic Andre J. He hugs and kisses, then gushes a bit about Richie Rich’s new shoes. As first impressions go, this is a fine way start to the night. Inside it looks like a subterranean vault decorated by the CFDA Awards. Shoes line the walls along with stylish uptowners, downtowners, and out-of-towners, the gritty foundation offset by fashion. We creep towards the back, conscious that Richie must have set up camp here. Sure enough, Rich is perched and posing alongside his friends in a darkened corner. He hops down to say hello, just as a camera crew shines a light on aforementioned friends revealing Jenna Jameson, Andy Hilfiger, Jaslene Gonzalez from “America’s Next Top Model” Cycle 8, and Tito Ortiz. After chatting up Jaslene for a (very) brief moment, we felt like our work was done and raced onward.

image Uptown, the Kobe Club is the antithesis of 205: trendy, sleek, and filled with people of the same appeal. We sidle up to the bar and order cocktails, which are dangerously complimentary in celebration of the grand opening of the Kobe Beach Club in East Hampton. Lucky for us, we had to travel uptown rather than out east to try the beef and glimpse celebrities. We sit at the front bar, front row to see Mark Ronson, Daniel Merriweather, Taryn Manning, and Arden Wohl (we think) sashaying by. Later, I bum a smoke from Ronson, and Nick Haramis chats him up about BlackBook’s new Room100 feature in which Mark stars. “You know it got me into ‘Page Six?’” he muses. We didn’t.

After a few blurry text messages, we learn the Calvin Klein Secret Obsession Fragrance Launch party hosted by Eva Mendes has been mysteriously cancelled, just as it was mysteriously being held above the site of Heath Ledger’s death. We also learn between bits of beef and (amazing) wasabi peas that we’ve missed Bravo’s A-List Awards after-party. There’s no need to wallow in regret, as we order one last round and make plans to go back downtown to 1Oak. Another night of being dressed down with everywhere to go.