Your DC Inauguration Weekend Guide

Feels like just yesterday, huh? Well now we’re gonna do it all again. But better. Regardless of your stance on the election, the inauguration of Obama on Monday, January 21st is a good opportunity to head to DC, drink like you just got out of prison, and conquer the city’s top brunch and dinner places like a viking. Yeah, I want you to live it up. Not just because you only live once yadda yadda, but also because you paid good money for that train/bus/flight to be in the nation’s civic hub, so your weekend better be great. And with this Inauguration guide, it certainly will be.

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Russian NHL Star Alex Ovechkin’s Tweet About Just-Opened Russian Spot In DC

When Russian NHL star Alex Ovechkin tweets about how great a certain, just-opened Russian restaurant is, we launch into action; “He said what? When? Where is this place?” The answer: Mari Vanna in DC’s Dupont Circle. And this week, the newly-engaged 27-year-old captain took to Twitter to blast his excitement over his meal with not just a “Gr8 place for Russian food in DC” proclamation, but also a picture (to your left) of him in a very prideful stance. For the future of Russian cuisine, this means a lot.

Inspired by the Russian fairytale of Mari Vanna – an old woman who took in strangers, treated them like family, and cooked them classic, elaborate Russian dishes – this homey Russian spot is Mari Vanna’s largest yet. With locations across the globe – NYC, LA, and even Russia – a meal at Mari Vanna is a promise of attention to detail in both food and décor, authenticity, and precious coziness. The space is filled with Russian chachkas and literature, antiques, chandeliers, and teakettles, while the menu is stocked with signature mushroom blinis, beef stroganoff, borscht, and pierogies. Oh, and there’s also 70 kinds of Russian vodka. In  flavors like horseradish and cherry. I mean, if that’s what interests you.  

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Do you enjoy  dining out in DC? Then check out BlackBook’s Washington DC Guide and BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android. Keep up on the latest openings and events across the nation by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings newsletter. 

Nightlife Try Outs: Ricardo Garcia’s Banker-Cum-Nightlifer Itinerary

It’s a Thursday night and I’m uptown at Lavo surveying the scene: there’s Irina Shayk; hoards of other models that I can’t really see because Irina Shayk’s image has just been permanently etched into my retina; decent looking women; not-so-decent-looking women, who sleep with promoters and staff to prove they can be useful. For every ten of these women, there’s one graying, dapper, monied man, to whom they cling. I’m in the corner guzzling drinks and contemplating why every man with half (an empty) brain doesn’t feel compelled to drop whatever else he’s got going on to do this “daddy” routine. Then memory takes me back to one man who did. I’ve seen Ricardo Garcia at just about every event I’ve gone to in the last three years. In the early days, he’d have to leave relatively early – 2am – to be fresh for the next day’s work investing something into something else. He was always either just drunk enough to approach every girl in the room, or just nice enough. Camera in hand, he’d ask to take everyone’s picture—usually pretty girls in droves—and aim to find them on Facebook the next day in order to tag them. Oldest game in the book, I’d say, but he was shrewdly doing it to build up his connections in the nightlife arena. Now he’s a full-time nighttime kind of guy, running an events and branding company, all thanks to this early “daddy” routine. Smart guy. Here’s what his nightlife looks like, now that he doesn’t have finance stuff to worry about.

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Name: Ricardo Antonio Garcia Professional Resume: I am a former Merger & Acquisitions Financier that now owns and operates Red Hot-PR, a New York and London based PR firm concentrating on brand building, event planning, promotions, talent management, photo production, public relations, entertainment financing, and media coverage. I also founded Red Hot-Society, which is an online weekly fashion, entertainment, and events newsletter covering various social activities and featuring only the direct scene without the “fluff.” New York Nightlife in a Word: It used to be “Champagne Bollinger.” Now it’s more Patron.

City Loves: Lunch spot: Sant Ambroeus. Both locations in the city and Southampton. • Dinner spot: South Gate in the Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South. • Nightlife trend: The Box has been a four-year trend for me • Drink of choice: Star Vodka by Charles Ferri, on the rocks with a lime twist. • Meal of choice: Filet Mignon with potato mash and Saint Émilion • Group of people to bump into: Doesn’t matter, as long as they are good looking.

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City GripesNightlife trend you loathe: SL and Provocateur, and other places where the nouveau bourgeoisie congregate in their wannabe nouveau riche style and demeanor. • Drink: I never understood “infused” liquors. • Meal: I am not a fan of curry. • Group of people to bump into: Anyone who thinks they are royalty because they made few bucks lately, or obtained some exposure via media, reality TV, or some other vessel.

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His HotspotsMonday: La Zarza, cozy and a nice looking crowd, great music. •Tuesday: La Vie for a hookah and vodka, then some private event invite usually pops up elsewhere. •Wednesday: Mari Vanna for early cocktails/dinner then late night loft party or private event. •Thursday: Le Cirque for pre cocktails/dinner then CV Lounge late night. •Friday: Dinner at De Santos, cocktails after at The Lion, then avoiding the B and T crowd, so perhaps a local bar late night, or a private house party in Nantucket or Southampton, if it’s the summer months. •Saturday: Dinner and drinks local—walking distance: Travertine, Freeman’s, or Madame Geneva. Usually, there’s too much B and T to make it a “night,” unless I’m in Nantucket or Southampton for a house party. •Sunday: Charbon for a burger and wine, Union Square Lounge for their Brazilian Model Party, and maybe cocktails at Café Habana.

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Every night: I like the Crosby Bar in the Crosby Street Hotel. •Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Abe & Arthur’s, Avenue, The Collective, SL, Provocateur, and Pacha. •For special occasions: Bemelmans Bar for piano jazz, or Café Carlyle for Woody Allen’s band on Mondays. • Brunch is usually: The Odeon.

Arthur Dozortsev Reflects on a Lifetime in the Alcohol Biz

To the thousands who have laughed and smiled with him, Arthur Dozortsev is Arty. He sells booze and is one of those thousands of people who make a living off the nightlife industry even though they don’t actually work at a club, bar, or restaurant. When the city or state changes a law a little, or a joint gets closed or isn’t allowed to open, there is a ripple effect to our local economy. Arty is on that second ripple. He rolls deep, showing up at clubs with herds of models and players. He’s the kind of guy that smiles even when he is mad or hurt. When he was throwing big soirees back in his Kremly vodka days, they were packed with all the right sorts. I had coffee with my friend at Prince Street Catering, and asked him what he’s up to.

You have been around quite a while, but burst onto the scene hard with your product Kremly Vodka. Tell me about that experience. I have been in New York for over 35 years, and yes, Kremly Vodka was an amazing experience. I was basically doing marketing, sales, PR, product placement, you name it. It was great because I met the best people from all over the world. I was working with every hot club and restaurant in New York, Florida, California and a lot of places all around the world, so that gave me the ability to be around really great people from all industries.

Is it hard to launch a vodka? It is always hard to launch a liquor brand. Back in the day, when we launched, we really didn’t have as much premium vodkas as today, but it was an uphill battle from the start. It was a lot of tastings, a lot of events, a lot of word of mouth, a lot of hard work. It was very difficult for us, because we were a private company with limited resources going against giants like Absolut and Stoli, but we made a stand in the industry.

You were born in the Ukraine. Tell me about your transition to the “American” way of life. Yes, I was born in the Ukraine, but I dont remember much cause my family left when I was 2. It was very difficult for my family. My dad didn’t speak English and had no money. But working hard in the country and being honest and loyal, my dad became very successful in the food and caviar business, which led us to get into the liquor business, so I guess as far as I can remember, I was more of an American then a Ukrainian .

Tell me about Forever Young. Forever Young is a joint venture between my good friend Seth Greenberg and my company, in creating a new line of wines called Forever Young. Both Seth and I have a great infrastructure, and we both decided it would be a great idea to launch a great line of wines with a fun approach behind it .

You sell product to some of the hottest places in NY. Name some of them and tell me what you are selling. We work with places like Tao, Sparks Steak House, Rue 57, Serafina, Casa la Femme, 1Oak, Juliet, Provocateur, STK, Dos Caminos, Mari Vanna and many more. Most of these places carry our wines by the glass, which we import mainly from Spain, Chile, Italy, Argentina and Germany. As far as the products they are mostly the common wines people drink.

The SLA has banned a great deal of the promotional money distributors and liquor companies used to be able to give for events. Tell me about the laws for this, and how it affects you. The SLA is always trying to enforce tougher laws which in a way I think is sometimes good. It keeps the industry honest, or at least tries to. We are not really affected by it because we really don’t give away promotional money. As importers and distributors in NY, we are able to offer the best prices in town, so I guess that’s our niche in the business, great wines at great prices

Is the climate for business in NYC getting better or worse? The climate for us as a company is great and very upbeat. There are over ten thousand liquor licenses in the city and we only work with 10 percent of them, so we have a very big opportunity to grow. Personally, I think the climate is a bit stale. Being in the city for so long and going through some of the best times the city has been through, I feel we need to step it up a bit.

Where do you hang these days? 1Oak is great, and Provocateur is a lot of fun but, but there is nothing to compare to the days of Tunnel, Limelight, Mars, or even some as early as Life on Tuesdays. I guess I am spoiled. My favorite place right now is Provocateur in the Gansevoort Hotel. Other wise I am at 1Oak, Juliet, Soho House during the day, and I love this new restaurant BES in Chelsea , amazing food. And u can always catch me at Ciprianis.