Scream For Saoirse Ronan & Margot Robbie in ‘Mary Queen of Scots’


Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are starring in the upcoming historical drama Mary Queen of Scots, as Mary and Queen Elizabeth, respectively. And the posters, released today, have us freaking.

Mary Stuart became Queen of France at just 16, and a widow two years later. Instead of remarrying, she returned home to Scotland to claim her throne – and soon, England and Scotland both fell under the reign of Elizabeth I, with a vicious struggle for power between the two women ensuing.

The film is set for release through Focus Features on December 7. It also stars Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, Gemma Chan, David Tennant and Guy Pearce.


Mary Stuart became Queen of France at just 16, and a widow two years later. Instead of remarrying, she returned home to Scotland to claim her throne – and soon, England and Scotland both fell under the reign of Elizabeth I, with a vicious struggle for power between the two women ensuing.

The film is set for release through Focus Features on December 7. It also stars Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, Gemma Chan, David Tennant, and Guy Pearce.

Charlize Theron and the History of Evil Queens

Long before the Julia Roberts stinker Mirror, Mirror came and went, there was talk about that movie and the forthcoming Snow White and the Huntsman and which witch—Roberts’ evil queen or that of Huntsman’s Charlize Theron—would be worst. Talk no more, folks. Today a clip from Huntsman, featuring Theron not-so-gently asking her loyal servant, played by everyhunk Chris Hemsworth, to go into some haunted-ass woods and hunt down Snow White so the queen can eat her heart already.

But what we’re seeing from Theron, while pretty good considering our recent smattering of evil queens, isn’t without precedent. No, there have been evil queens before. And they’ve been bad. Really bad. Like the Wicked Queen from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Or Mary, Queen of Scots, whose bloody reign stretched across Europe and gave Vanessa Redgrave a meaty role to play.

There was Dame Judi Dench as the ultimate bad girl, even if she was royal only briefly, Lady MacBeth.

Pinks Flamingos’ Babs Johnson might not live in a castle, but Divine was sure one killer queen. And you don’t get much more evil than Babs.

It’s Time to Welcome Back Gin to Your Spirits Repertoire

It seems like only yesterday I was researching gin for my spirits column in the October, 2011 issue of BlackBook. As I called in various bottles to sample, I asked everybody I knew how they felt about it. There were a few enthusiasts, but the majority of respondents cast their eyes downward, quietly shook their heads, and murmured something to the effect of "I can’t drink gin." It’s as if the question caused them to relive their worst gin experience, choking down a warm shot of some astringent rotgut poured from a plastic bottle, eyes watering, salivary glands in overdrive. Even my celebrity gin-tasting partner, Patton Oswalt, said that he couldn’t stand the stuff – though he later came around after a few choice cocktails at Stone Rose. But what a difference a few months makes. Yesterday a team from Nolet’s Gin came to the new combined editorial offices of BlackBook, VIBE, and Uptown magazines to mix a few gin-based cocktails, and people couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about the juniper spirit. What happened? 

Good gin happened, that’s what. Yes, there have been quality gins on the market for years, but it seems people are only now willing to embrace them. As a result, they’re finding that today’s gins – and the fancy cocktails that showcase gin – are smooth, refreshing, and delicious. Better still, they’re hip to the idea of moderation: passing on that ill-advised nightcap can do wonders for your memories of a spirit. 
The Nolet’s team brought along John McCarthy, the beverage director of three great New York bars, Highlands, Mary Queen of Scots, and the recently opened Whitehall, which has nearly 50 gins on offer. For his part, McCarthy brought a host of great mixers, from honey to orange bitters to basil leaves, with which he made an inspired collection of cocktails. But first he had us all taste a simple, chilled shot of Nolet’s, and it was fun to witness the reactions of the 25 or so people in the room. They were at first jolted a bit by the strength of it – drinking straight liquor at 4:30 p.m. in a conference room will do that – but there was a sense of collective enlightenment as the various flavors – citrus, floral, and pepper – revealed themselves.
And then came the cocktails, the Nolet’s Silver Basil Collins, the Lynnette’s Own, and the No. 11 among them. The room lit up with questions and conversation, with people asking for recipes (below) and other good pairings. Poor McCarthy was scrambling to keep up with the requests, a task made especially difficult since his bar consisted of the western end of a conference table, but before long everybody was sipping their favorite cocktails and making plans to visit his bar for an encore. 
So if you’re one of those people who shudder at the mere mention of gin, I feel for you, but it’s time to give it another chance. Swing by Whitehall (or your favorite local bar), order a Nolet’s Silver Basil Collins (or the gin-based cocktail of your choice) and savor the subtlety, complexity, and character of gin at its finest. Pretty good, huh? Time to replace those bad gin memories with, well, memorable ones. 
Nolet’s Silver Basil Collins
1.5 oz. Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin
3 Muddled Lemon Wedges
.5 oz. Honey Syrup
.5 oz. Lemon Juice
3 Basil Leaves
Shake and pour all contents into a Collins glass. Top with club soda. 
Lynnette’s Own
2 oz. Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin
.5 oz. Lemon Juice
.75 oz. St. Germain
2 Dashes Rose Petal/Applejack Bitters
Shake and strain into a coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.
No. 11
2 oz. Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin
.25 oz. Simple Syrup
3 dashes orange bitters
Stir and strain over ice. Garnish with an orange twist. 

Saturday Night in the City, Plus a Chat About Hotel Chantelle

Health is wealth, says my mother. My recent bouts with flu have left me “anorexic,” says she. Well, I took my much thinner self on a romp this Saturday night and got the feel of things. I stopped by APL, which is changing its name, game, and menu to get back to a good place. These are nice people and it’s the last place I designed with Mr. Dizon. I wish them well. Then I scooted by Highlands Restaurant and Mary Queen of Scots, which celebrated their one year anniversary on Sunday.

I walked for a while with Matt Levine, who told me his new place previewed and will soon be ready for prime-time players. He was heading home, so I popped into Hotel Chantelle to see how the roof was holding up with the weather advancing toward winter. The enclosed roof deck’s foliage was as vibrant as ever and the crowds were still there enjoying the illusion of being outdoors. I’m DJing there Thursday, so I checked out the booth to see what I was getting into.

Then I passed by Noel Ashman’s new joint, where fresh paint was debated. Also the name of the place. I can’t much talk about it except to say the joint is going to be sweet. Noel and his uber secret partners are excited. I walked over to subMercer for my second visit in two days. Gabby Meija’s birthday bash the night before was a costume affair with a Roman flair. It was a great party. I didn’t go downstairs Saturday, opting to hang out at the door with Richard Alvsarez and the chain smokers, which could be the name of his band if the door/art thing doesn’t pan out.

I zoomed over to Snap to see how the basement spot I’m designing has progressed. Although the name is secret here as well, I’ve been hearing it in the street. If one more person mentions it, I’ll consider it public knowledge and tell you. Geez, when I had joints I wanted people to have the name on their lips. This secret sauce confuses me. I peeked into The Darby and was amazed by the vibrancy of the place. The upstairs was winding down its dinner/show with a solid adult crowd and bon vivants were sliding into the downstairs lounge. Everybody was beautiful and well dressed. Matt Issacs and I walked over to this 42 Below Underground Rebel Bingo event on 16th street. It was just ending and the crowd was shuffling off to Buffalo and other such places.

There were nice new cars parked everywhere, and I was told the Cold War Kids had performed. It was time to get real, so I headed to the Dream Downtown. I went to the roof where everyone was having a good time in the low lit room. How dim was it… girls were picking me up. It was that dim or they were. I called ahead to Provocateur to announce myself, as is their practice, and was whisked inside. Lately, the snarkiest amongst my readers and friends have suggested that two years in the place has lost a step. It had been a couple of months, so I wanted to see for myself. Those naysayers are crazy or just mean spirited. The place was off the hook with every table a story with a fairy tale ending. Every time I go to Provocateur I see the most wonderous crowd. I zipped over to Electric Room, where Nur Khan was hosting Crystal Castles after their show. I asked the door heroes about the black carpet that guided you through the steep Hacula garage entrance. “So, if a person is rejected they have to skulk all the way uphill to the street? How embarrassing that must be!” They replied with something eloquent, like “Yep.” Inside it was wonderful. Every thing was clicking. The staff is brilliant, the music fun, and the crowd was having a great time instead of just pretending or looking like they were having one. I love it there. In my spare time I asked Victor Medina-San Andrés about his Thursday night soiree’ over at Hotel Chantelle.

SL) Thursday you are hosting the 5th Annual Masquerade Ball. Tell me how you got into this and the charity it benefits.

VMSA) The first Masquerade Ball was in Paris in 2007, I brought out about 700+ people on a Tuesday night and it was a huge success. Healing the Children Northeast is a small organization which is based in Connecticut and they’re great, their sole purpose is to heal children with burn injuries, cleft palates and other deformities whose families don’t have access to or cannot afford treatment in developing countries. I have decided to help them to raise money with their missions. I know the money goes to the right people since I traveled with them to Thailand right after the Tsunami.

SL) You’re having it at Hotel Chantelle and the invite says black tie. Talk to this why Chantelle and why black tie?

VMSA) Terry Casey was the person who suggested Hotel Chantelle and he told Tim Spuches and Kyle O’Brien about the event and they said “Definitely!”. I love Hotel Chantelle, it has a great vibe, 3 floors an amazing roof deck and it’s just perfect for the event. I call it black tie because I want to give people a second chance to look like a rockstar at their prom. If you think about it, we were all a bit awkward in High School so this way you get to basically be whoever you want behind the mask and have fun at the same time. In addition, this party is dedicated to all women. Yes, women who have amazing beauty and within and can show it with their attire that evening.

SL) Tell me about what you do.

VMSA) I’m a photographer and filmmaker. I have worked in about 24 films and I’m developing a few ideas about directing 2 short films I want to shoot. One of them is about suicide and how painful it is to families and I want to present it to suicide organizations to try and prevent it. I’m still developing the idea but we will see what happens with it. The film industry is very “up in the air” sort of business. At times, you can shoot for months and then is quiet. Also, I became partner and curator of the After-Set Independent Film Screenings and we do screenings with Tribeca Grand Hotel & GrandLife. Tony Fant & Tommy Saleh are amazing when it comes to support with the arts and we allow indy filmmakers to screen and showcase their work for free, we screen weekly and we give a percentage of the money collected at the door to Healing the Children Northeast on a weekly basis and it works. is a social media site for filmmakers only and we do the screenings not only in NYC but Paris and Rome. As a photographer, first it was a hobby which turned into a business, I have been shooting for a long time and I recently joined The Cooper Union to take lessons and it’s funny how the professor asked me: “what are you doing here?” since he found out what I have done as a shooter. Lastly, at the party I’m also showcasing The Masquerade Show – Part Deux, 20 nude images I photographed, I’m selling the prints and giving half the money to the charity as well. This way everyone at the party can feel good about helping children.

SL) Terry Casey is involved with this event… tell me more.

VMSA) Terry loves masquerades as much as I do, he’s not only a good friend but very talented when it comes to music and DJ’s. He has been in the nightlife scene for a long time and he approached me last year about doing the Masquerade Ball and he actually introduced me to GrandLife and Tribeca Grand where I did the Masquerade Ball last year, I know this business can be cut-throat but you do actually build good relationships at the end. We are in the business of entertaining people and make their nights memorable and The Masquerade Ball is going to do just that.

SL)How do people get in?

VMSA) Get there early and $20 gives you access to get in. Masks can be purchased at door for $30. Starts at 7pm until 4am on October 27th at Hotel Chantelle. I didn’t want to sell the tickets online because I want to see a line of people dressed in black tie outside the venue. if you come with no mask, jeans, caps or any wrong attire or shoes, no problem, then your entrance fee is $1,000.

Citysearch Survey Reveals When Money’s Tight, Liquor’s Right

It’s all about priorities. When cash is scarce, you’ve got to cut everything out of your budget that isn’t absolutely essential. New clothes, cable TV, heat, electricity? All frivolous luxuries you can live without. Booze? That’s another story. Such are the findings of an interesting new consumer spending habits poll released today by Citysearch and conducted by Harris Interactive that determined – with science – that while shops and restaurants are still feeling recession’s pinch, bars and clubs are going gangbusters.

According to the poll, almost one in four people are going out to bars and clubs more frequently this year than they did last year. The trend is even more pronounced among those under the age of 35, with nearly half of the youngsters hitting the local club or publick house with a greater frequency in 2011 than 2010. It’s good to be a barkeep these days.

Shopping and eating, meanwhile, aren’t quite as robust. According to the data, 37% of respondents are going out to restaurants less frequently than they did last year, while a third are visiting shops less.

Naturally, blowing your whole paycheck in a bar is far too easy, which is why so many people are seeking out drink specials to slake that thirst for spirits. Well, happy hour got its name for a reason, and there are some amazing ones happening in New York and beyond. Just last night I was bending an elbow at Mary Queen of Scots on the Lower East Side, sampling a slew of amazing cocktails like the Lady of the Lake. I was chuffed to learn that they have a pretty generous happy hour from 6-8 pm Monday through Wednesday and 5:30 to 8 pm Thursday through Sunday that offers half-priced beer, wine, and specialty cocktails at the bar. That’s a bargain in any economic scenario.

The full poll results are available here.

Mix It Up: A Selection of Single Malt Cocktails Worthy of the Good Stuff

Scotch should almost always be mixed with nothing more than a splash of water, but once you’ve become acquainted with your favorite bottle, there’s nothing wrong with playing around a bit. We asked T.J. Lynch, who tends bar at New York’s Highlands gastropub and its sister restaurant, Mary Queen of Scots, to suggest a couple of single malt cocktails that celebrate the spirit while adding to it some mixological magic.

The Blood and Sand, Highlands Version 3/4 oz single malt Scotch (recommended: 12- to 15-year-old Scotch that’s not heavily peated, such as anCnoc 12) 1/2 oz each Cherry Heering, lemon juice, orange juice Shake and strain into chilled coupe. Garnish with flamed orange peel.

Dram Dirk 1 1/2 oz single malt Scotch 1/2 oz Compass Box Orangerie 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice 1/2 oz chipotle-orange syrup 2 dashes orange bitters Shake and strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with flamed orange peel.

New York Openings: The John Dory Oyster Bar, Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots (Lower East Side) – Something about Mary: former queen of France and Scotland gets a rustic brasserie-pub in her honor. ● The John Dory Oyster Bar (Garment District) – Grand Central Oyster Bar inspires seafood-centric spinoff of the Spotted Pig.