My Home Is My Kastel

The much-anticipated opening of Kastel in the Trump Soho had me and my pal Stretch Armstrong on the 1’ and 2’s. That’s DJ jargon referring to the equipment we disc jockey professionals use. In this case it was 1’s and 2’s and 3’ and 4’s and so on, as state-of-the-art, up-to-the-minute gear, was of course installed. All the DJs that came by coo’ed something like, That’s the new blankety blank or the new thingamajig. The new stuff had me baffled, fluxed and perplexed for the first 30 minutes of my set. When Stretch showed up and needed to get his Serato (another DJ pro term) hooked up, it was all too confusing. The booth became packed with more “glad to lend a helping hand” dudes than Jenna Jameson’s table at a porn convention.

Your humble servant moi was DJing like he was playing Twister, reaching through wires and arms and flashlights to tuck DVDs of questionable taste under, over and through the crew. I did the first hour and a half and then Stretch and I ping-ponged back and forth one record at a time. He made me look good. I remembered him to be the first person on the scene to use the Serato and telling people it was the next big thing. He said he was actually the second. Management wants to keep the volume down and the energy up, but not out, as it is a lounge. I found it fun to work at. The only problem with DJing there once you get used to the new stuff is the DJ can’t feel or hear the room from the booth easily.

Kastel was packed with an opening night crowd of beautiful well-dressed people and of course some of my friends. It was suit heavy and refreshingly older than most of the joints out there. The owners and operators of half the joints in town came by to check it out. They saw a perfect place to steal their early crowd. The theory seems to be that Kastel will serve the post-dinner/pre-club needs of New York city’s finest. It should easily find that niche. It’s small enough and very well appointed by the Rockwell Group of design professionals. Yesterday I asked my thousands of Facebook friends what the first song should be for this Trump hotel nightclub. I received many suggestions, some of which I will be able to print here. Tons including the real “E” Eric Weinstein said “Money” by various artists. Others offered the Talking Heads “This Must Be The Place,” or “Another One Bites The Dust,” “Eye Of The Tiger,” “Banquet” by Bloc Party, the Star Wars Theme, “Heart of Glass,” “Praise You” by Fat Boy Slim, “Let’s Dance” or a Marshall Jefferson house track. Mega star DJ Mark Kamins suggested Gil Scott Heron”s “The Revolution Will Be Televised.” Someone suggested “I Wish I Could Be There,” but I didn’t know if that was a song or a come on. The final answer was “Let The Good Times Roll” by the Cars, because that’s the way I roll.

I loved the gig, the room, the party, the very helpful staff and most of all Nicola Siervo, and Nicola Schon and Rony Seikaly and Karim Masri who honored me by letting me DJ. I also have to especially thank Manny Del Castillo who offered me the gig. Manny is a managing partner of Griffin. He has accepted the position of Music/Creative Director for Kastel & Bar D’eau. I asked Manny if this put him in a conflict of interest situation with Griffin, and he said “I would like to stress that I’m Reda’s right hand, creating concepts and coming up with the vision for all his venues, Room Service & Griffin. I’m trying to get away from the promoter/promotional director stereotype. At Griffin I was responsible for bringing in Dizon & Lewis (that’s me, yes it’s a very incestuous business) for the design and Milk and Honey for cocktails, amongst other things.”

Painkiller’s New Logo Is, Well, Killer

Lovers of logos, get excited. Also, lovers of adventurous New York drinking dens, you can get excited, too. Painkiller, that Lower East Side, 70s-inspired tiki bar is approaching their opening date, and they’ve got the highly badass logo to prove it. The owners, Richie Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzalez designed the logo themselves, with the intention of mimicking the New York Hard Core logo Boccato would see everywhere as a youth.

“It’s a symbol that I used to see so much around New York,” says Boccato. “Particularly as I made my way up from my native Brooklyn to the mean streets of Manhattan. Back in those days, the Bowery was an entirely different and exponentially more appealing scene to a young man with delinquent tendencies.”

Boccato came up through the Sasha Petraske cocktail empire (Little Branch, Milk and Honey), and Painkiller is his second venture as an owner, after he and Gonzalez opened the Long Island City saloon Dutch Kills last summer. He says of the logo, “My partner and I sketched out the logo to include a classically inspired tiki mask with the tools of our trade, a swizzle stick and a barspoon.We then gave this concept to Kenny Colvin of Giant Squid Press, and he and his team ran with it.”


Industry Insiders: Eva Ziegler, Hotel Brand-Aid

If we start making a list of excellent career choices, Eva Ziegler may have to play role model right at the top. The Austrian-born marketing mastermind is the “Global Brand Leader” for W Hotels and head of the global launch for Le Méridien Hotels as part of parent company Starwood Hotels & Resorts. From her home base in New York, Ziegler spends her 9 to 5 working on strategic planning (establishing the Starwood brand, scope, marketing strategies, implementing design) for hotels across the globe. Arguably, the biggest perk is that her job also includes traveling to all of these hotels (from Istanbul to Bali). In a smooth Austrian accent, the charming power player makes it all look and sound effortless, in between jet-setting to exotic locations to conduct business, of course.

What’s a typical day in your job? I don’t think there is such a thing as a typical day in my job, and that’s actually the beauty of the story. My job is global which means that I am on the road a lot; different locations around the world, different people to meet and different cultures to understand. So, to some extent I don’t find a real routine in my job. You can only really love a brand if you really know your product. Brand leaders are not just people who do communications and paint pretty pictures but actually set the strategic framework.

When you visit one of your hotel locations, what are some of the first things that you look for? The first impression that you have is the people. When you meet the people it sets the tone and you kind of right away know the atmosphere that awaits you. The people are enormously important to the story. Also the overall look from a design perspective. It’s a very design-led brand. The first ten minutes are critical.

Which is your favorite location and why? Overall, as a person I love vibrant, multidimensional cities. Cities that are multifaceted and that offer a spectrum of things. My dream has always been to live in New York one day so to live here is one of my dreams come true. Also I love Istanbul. I love Hong Kong. I also love creative, artsy places like Barcelona. Around the world in general, I love places that are full of life and creative potential.

Hobbies you’ve picked up while traveling? I think helicopter skiing is one of the ultimate experiences of man and nature. To me it’s like complete freedom to some extent, when your eye has complete freedom.

How is Starwood fighting against the economic downturn? On our side we see the challenge as an opportunity to some extent, because it makes you rethink everything that you’re doing. So in the end, after the crisis, we’ll actually come out stronger than when we went in. The whole idea is to own the upswing. From a W perspective, we’ve opened seven hotels this year, with four more to go this year. By 2012, we’re going from currently 33 hotels to 60 hotels. We’re building for the long term. From a Starwood perspective, we’re “painting the house.” We’ve opened 250 hotels in the last three years, we renovated another 350 hotels, so 60 percent of our total portfolio will be renewed or new. We want to be in the best shape when the economy bounces back.

Where do you stand in Le Meridian’s global launch? Le Méridien is a very different story than W Hotels. The W brand was created in ’98 from scratch by Starwood. Le Méridien was bought in ’05 with a 35-year history. We wanted to relaunch the brand and transform it into a lifestyle brand. Basically, we’ve transformed the product. From the original 130 hotels we bought, we’ve exited 40. Out of the 90 hotels from the original purchase, we’ve renovated hotels in the double digits so far. We’ve also opened another 15 hotels. Le Méridien is meant to provide art in a new perspective. The ultimate thing is that Le Méridien should become a gathering place for the creative type. As much as the W is about socializing around cocktails and the bar, Le Méridien is more about engaging people in dialogue and conversation around coffee. To re-launch a brand is not something that happens in a year, it’s a long-term project.

What’s your number-one necessity when you travel? My first necessity is running shoes, and the second is my iPod.

Dream spot for a hotel? I’ve just seen a fascinating project of transforming old oil platforms into hotels. It turns into an entirely environmentally friendly solution. The idea of sustainability and being respectful to the planet is very important to me.

Your go-to spots in New York? Balthazar for brunch; Spice Market; Café Sabarsky which is a Viennese café for whenever I’m feeling homesick. Also Macchiato Espresso Bar, Milk and Honey and Whiskey Blue at W New York.

A Big Who: Civetta Opens

I have some history with 98 Kenmare Street, the address of chef Ron Suhanosky’s new, “real” Italian restaurant, Civetta. I tried to broker a deal at that space between “fiends” — oops, that’s a typo but let’s leave it — I meant friends, Todd English, Joe “Viagra” Vicari, my boy Igor, and some other chaps. People with Igor as a first name invariably have forgettable last names, and anyway we made up as he apologized to me on his wedding night, and so he gets a pass. I saw The Godfather 50 times. A public bitch-slapping match between myself and super duper chef Todd English happened in all the funny papers some time ago, but even Todd I forgive, as I hear through channels that he is sorry. The problem with Todd in the first place is that he does everything through channels. He negotiated in bad faith and blamed the “channels.” He bitch-slapped me in the papers through his publicity “channel,” and I guess with 20 restaurants under his wing, he even cooks through a “channel.” Well, the deal fell through, and fast friends have slowly become less hateful to each other. Anyway, I’m not here today to talk about old beef. I’m here to talk about new beef, in the form of Civetta owner and chef Ron’s grilled sirloin alla pizziaola, rughetta, sea salt, and other delectables.

My old co-worker and fast friend Dirk Von Stockum is on board to steer this ship. His trademark belly laugh and James Bond-ish accent are familiar to the fast-lane crowd. With a wife and a four-year-old kid, Dirk will find a quieter happiness in this beautiful downtown restaurant. Years at Life, Spa, Crobar, and a dozen other joints bring an A-list rolodex of patrons to Civetta. My old pal Michael Benett, (“the good twin” to the club world) is also on board. My “old number 2” bartender from my Life/Spa days, Drew “Z” Zechman is slinging cocktails and is in on the drink menu. They make their own sodas, and they have a state-of-the-art water-purifying system, which is all the rage about town. Those nasty water bottles are petroleum-based and plastic and have to be shipped — but you know all of this. Cocktails have never been better in this town as the Milk and Honey types and chefs everywhere take this very seriously. Yet no one has shown me an improvement on Jamesons — oh, oops, I’m rambling again. Roberto Scarpati, late of Le Cirque, is the wine director. Wines will be accessible, low-production, paired, and readily available with solid organic choices.

“Civetta” means owl, or in Italian slang, a flirtatious owl or flirtatious woman. The up and down movement between the dining room on the street level to the casual dining lounge below is designed as dynamic for socializing. It will be a place to see and be seen for a flirtatious Nolita crowd. La Esquina, a short flight west. has done all the heavy lifting and still caters to a very sharp set. The Civetta menu is dominated by a ginormous list of antipasti and has 30 wines by the glass. I love ordering lots of small tasty things, so if you’re looking for me I’ll be there, albeit with my seat facing the 50-plus feet of open French doors. An old menu from 1937 is framed on a column, and it lists bottles of classy champagnes for around six bucks a bottle and a spaghetti Bolognese that goes for 35 cents. Today’s menu has a rigatoni Bolognese for $28 and lists some very wonderful “Rari and Unici” bottles for non-1937 prices.

Times change and so does my old neighborhood. New cuisine comes with the new inhabitants and visitors. I asked chef Suhonsky why he would open an Italian place so close to the hundred other such places of Little Italy. He told me that they were “not serving real Italian food.” I asked him if he had discussed this theory with anyone in the neighborhood. He answered that he “didn’t feel that Civetta was really part of Little Italy, but skewed west as part of Soho.” I quipped that it was sort of like an Omaha beach, a foothold of his “real” Italian food for the gentrified set. He explained that what was served around the corner was “spaghetti and meatballs, American-Italian food.” I ate at Umberto’s last night with GoldBar door concierge Jon Lennon, and I don’t know what to call it, but it tasted good. I can’t argue with Ron. His massive success at Il Buco and Sfoglia here and in Nantucket means he’s right. With the Bowery booming with life and new construction, a serious “real” Italian menu, amazing wine list, dedication to cocktails and service from proven veterans, and two floors in a location I almost died for — I see this as a hit. I’m going to find myself some flirtatious owl and check it out next week.

Inside Griffin with VIP Diva Rachel Uchitel

imageRachel Uchitel, the bombshell Director of VIP Services at Griffin and a BlackBook Industry Insider, gives us the skinny on the hottest door in town.

What’s going on at Griffin right now? We’re in the middle of launching our programming. This week, we started our 5:30 service. So we’re open as a cocktail lounge from 5:30 on, 7 days a week. The week before, we had a celebrity-packed opening night. Sting, Uma Thurman, Kate Hudson, Mickey Rourke, Nas, and Maxwell were there. Lots of socialites and famous models. Fashionista people, like Rachel Zoe and Yigal Azourel. Art people like Salman Rushdie were there as well. An incredible, chic, sophisticated turnout. It was a real opening of a nightclub. That launched our evening opening with bottle service.

What’s the appeal? We’re now a cocktail lounge from 5:30pm to 2am on the nights that we’re not open for bottle service. There’s no place to go in New York right after work at 5:30, and nowhere to go before dinner at 8. And no place to go after dinner at 10:30 or 11. This really fills a role of a lot of things that are missing in the city. We’re also right in the middle of the Meatpacking District, which is right in the center of destinations that people will go before and after. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said it — I have nowhere to go out before I go out at night. There’s no door policy until 11, so it’s walk-in service until then. It’s not the kind of place where people will feel intimidated.

How has the transition been for you? I’ve worked for some of the best in the business at some of the best places between New York and Las Vegas. I’m very happy to work at the Griffin because it combines all of the elements that I learned in my past. We mix impeccable customer service with the most amazing, glamorous room, which is small enough that it can be very intimate. I was working at Tao, which is huge. At Griffin, we’re fitting like 350 people. I work with a great team here, and I have a great product behind me. People can get personal attention here from the second they walk in the door until the second they leave.

What’s the vibe like? On any given night, Griffin is the ultimate cocktail lounge that caters to a chic clientele looking for a sophisticated night out with impeccable service in New York. We’re staying away from a very young crowd, but it’s chic, real New Yorkers. The feel is a 19th-century salon.

How does the Griffin stand out from other lounges? The coolest thing is that we offer a list of punch bowls on our bottle service menu. We’ve come up with the idea that bottle service doesn’t have to be ruled by people ordering a bottle of vodka, tequila, or champagne. Average bottle prices are $350-$400 and up, so the average customer is spending between $500 and $1,500 on any given night. We tried to come up with a method where people would spend the same amount of money, but have the option to do something different. The guys from Milk and Honey and Little Branch came up with the punch bowl cocktails. You can get the Philadelphia Fish House Punch, where the bartenders come to your table and pour in the fresh ingredients and liquors and ladle out drinks for each member of a party. That’s amazing customer service. It’s so boring to order a bottle of champagne. This opens up to bottle service customers that we haven’t had it before. Girls aren’t generally bottle service customers, but if you get eight girls together, this is do-able. It can change your night. It’s not the typical night out. You can offer your friends a punch bowl instead of a bottle of vodka or champagne, and they’re served in these beautiful silver punch bowls.

What would you order as a bottle service customer? I’d get a table after dinner and order the Griffin House Punch for 10 people. I think it’s a great, cool thing to do on a night out. There are people who want to go out at 10pm and be home by 1am. It takes a certain person who wants to go out at midnight and be home at 4am. This opens us up to a whole different clientele who have jobs, who have to be there on time and sober. It’s great for after work or girl’s night out. You can also get our specialty cocktails served in a carafe size. If you wanted to come out with a small group, you can get a carafe as bottle service as well. This concept totally separates us from other lounges.

What’s the dress code? New York chic, super downtown. I’d prefer to see people dressed up, sans baseball caps and sweats. There isn’t necessarily a dress code because being chic and trendy sometimes goes hand in hand with wearing sneakers.

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Griffin to Open in Old PM Space

My partner Marc Dizon is the lead designer for the new restaurant/club Griffin, which is opening in the old PM space in the Meatpacking District. A hard date for the opening isn’t set yet, but somewhere around the third week of April seems feasible. The management team consists of Josh Kaiser (Pink Elephant), James Hinojos (Lesly Bernard), Rachel Uchitel (Tao Vegas), and Hector Longoria (Cain). Josh is still in the Pink Elephant mix while he puts the Griffin staff through an intense training schedule. They wouldn’t confirm it, but a friend tells me that the Milk and Honey and Little Branch crew are doing the drinks. The management team are volume-club veterans, so I believe there will be speed when there is a need.

The music will be a “mixed format” as opposed to mash-up, and the sound is by Dan Agne, so of course that means function one. Dan is one of the premiere guys doing club sound. I caught up to him at my Greenhouse party last night, and he was most enthusiastic about how the room will sound. I hear that it’s a 6 p.m. opening with light food. The thing that seemed most interesting about the menu are the celebrity-endorsed lollipops from

Since his project is near completion, I decided to hit my partner Marc Dizon with a few questions about his work.

What is your history as a designer? As a kid I was working in construction, so that parlayed my career in architecture. I went to architecture school at Parsons; from there I was recruited into Richard Meier and then I worked on some very important buildings. I designed the Jubilee Church and a few other notable museums in Rome, but after that I realized that my true calling was hospitality. I’ve always been around this world — the first club I ever went to was Steve Lewis’ when I was 14. It’s funny how everything comes back full circle. I think it’s a better application for my skills and technique because it’s about experience, the user, and changing a persons perception of what a space is like and how they interact in a space.

What is it like to be my partner? It’s fun and it’s creative because we bounce ideas off each other. We’re like the Jekyll and Hyde team — you’re a bit of live wire, and I’m a little bit more composed. It’s a great combination on so many levels because we both come up with great ideas that are half-baked, and if one can’t figure out how to develop an idea fully, the other person picks it up very quickly. So we can have a really half-assed idea and bring it together because we’re very complementary to each other.

What was the design intent behind Griffin? It was really about creating a space that was going to embrace that whole Meatpacking/Gansevoort location, but not as a hip, hot place — instead as a starting point of old New York, turn-of-the-century French Colonial, Dutch-inspired architecture and interiors. Using that aesthetic as a basis, we created the space using modern techniques, making it a little bit more edgy with oversized chandeliers, hanging a gigantic mirror on the ceiling, etc.

How did sound considerations affect your design? The sound was important because there were a lot of complaints from the neighborhood. We had to create a pretty intensive sound room, so we basically designed the whole place as a box within a box. The internal box is floating from the shell, so we’re kind of in a space within another space. And with the acoustics — we definitely worked very closely with Dan Agne to create a room that was sonically efficient. The shape of the room enhances the sound.

The Varnish & the Art of the Cocktail

A few weeks ago I met some friends for drinks at Cole’s, one of the oldest eating establishments in Los Angeles. As I ate one of their famous French dip sandwiches, which they invented, I noticed a steady stream of people going into a little red door in the back of the room and not coming out. It was like a secret portal of some kind. (Did it lead to the Island, I wondered? Sorry, I’ve watched too much Lost.)

It turns out it was a portal — to a speakeasy set somewhere in 30s, with dark wood walls and lush, red ceilings, with little Tiffany lamps and bartenders with rolled-up shirt sleeves and pants with suspenders, and girls with flapper dresses and feathers in their hair. This would be The Varnish.

I looked over and noticed one Sasha Petraske, cocktail connoisseur of New York City, also sporting the suspenders-and-rolled-up-sleeves outfit, and thought, not too smartly, what’s he doing here?

Petraske and I go way back, thanks to me working with his mum at the Village Voice in the factchecking department. It was because of her that I was ever able to enter the ultra-exclusive confines of his very first bar, Milk and Honey in the Lower East Side.

“Hey Sasha,” I said to him, after asking about his mom. “I heard you’re opening a bar here.”

“Yeah,” he said, pointing at the floor. “This is it.”

(See I told you, I’m not too smart.)

That was just a soft opening of the Varnish — which Petraske opened with his former partner Eric Alperin, himself no cocktail slouch (see Osteria Mozza, Seven Grand, Little Branch, Milk and Honey), and a generous host to boot.

“We ‘ve been wanting to open a backroom lounge — I hate to use the term ‘speakeasy’ because we’re not a speakeasy,” said Alperin of their new project. “Something with a bit of intimacy, a bit of adventure. ”

The renovation of Cole’s last year provided a perfect opportunity in the form of a storage room. “We could build what we wanted,” said Alperin of the space in the landmarked building. “It wasn’t protected by the Historical Society, ’cause there was nothing historic.”

On a weekday, it was already looking like it would be a difficult task to get a seat in a bar that’s small enough to qualify as tiny even in New York. And on a return visit last Friday night, we waited a good 25 minutes before sitting at a two-top table. We sampled a few of their specialties, including the Palma Fizz (vodka, lime, ginger, rose water, and seltzer), which was artfully made. First, he poured a yellowish liquid into a tall glass, then he appeared to light something on fire, drizzling its contents inside (fairy dust? magic? love potion number nine?), before delicately adding the other ingredients. It was more gingery than I’d anticipated — my cohort liked the ginger beer qualities of the drink — but I was looking for something a little less tangy.

Our waitress suggested I try something so secret it wasn’t even on the menu: The Penicillin. She returned with a golden drink swallowing a giant, uncut slab of ice — a signature detail at the Varnish. It had lemon, ginger, honey, and Laphroaig. It was just the right mix of tart and sweet, a balance that the Varnish seems to strive for. Those sickly sweet drinks of your youthful indiscretions — the rum and cokes, the vodka-crans, the gin and sodas — they ruined your cocktail palate.

“I think we’re trying to bring back classic recipes, where there’s a bit more care involved, a bit more of a culinary craft.” said Alperin. “There’s not a lot of prefab ingredients or mixers.”

And there are even some ingredients that might raise your eyebrows. “People would think egg whites would be weird,” said Alperin. “I don’t find it strange … I think we have things that definitely wow the pants off of people, and that’s great.” (The egg white drink is called Eagle’s Dream, in case you’re feeling adventurous.)

My hardier friend braved a drink called Remember the Maine (rye, vermouth, heering, absinthe). I knew just by smelling it that it would grow hair on my chest. I took a sip, and though I initially thought it’d be too intense, the finish shifted and softened as our bellies warmed from the rye. It was quite pleasant, actually. She drained her glass.

Thanks to my generous friend, we’d taken a cab from Culver City ($60 round trip!) and were free to drink as much as our much-diminished tolerances could hold.

Which brings me to the awkward problem of the “new cocktailian” movement, as LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold has dubbed the influx of high-toned bars encroaching upon Los Angeles: How do you create a cocktail culture in a city where everyone has to drive?

“Move downtown,” laughed Alperin.

Another answer? One expertly made drink at a time.

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Seven Does a Double Take

imageA commenter recently asked me what was up with The Double Seven, so I decided to find out. They hope to start building by the end of the month, with Dodd Mitchell onboard for design again. It will be a little bit bigger design-wise, and it will be much like The Double Seven, “but with a few twists.” David Rabin told me, “Our goal, design-wise, was to maintain the intimacy that everyone seemed to like about The Double Seven but to take advantage of the slightly larger space.”

There will be three or four new tables and a small kitchen providing a light snack menu — so no more take-out from Pop Burger. And during the warm seasons, there will be outdoor seating for about 6-10 to accommodate High Liners and shoppers. Drinks from Monika Chiang and Milk and Honey guru Sasha will be as they were — which is top notch — and they are working on tweaking the chocolate cocktail, which they helped to introduce. The place will remain a “nightlife for grownups” type of hangout. It won’t be a scream-over-the-DJ kind of place.

Drinking That Might Not Kill You in the Medium to Long Run

Or kill you slightly less. Yesterday, our hard-charging reporter Canadian and blogger Ben Barna interviewed Connecticut’s finest musical force/self-proclaimed raging alcoholic Moby, in which the chrome-domed DJ laments the inherent unhealthiness of hitting the sauce (and the blow). While we agree with Moby’s assertion that drinking is, uh, bad for you, we’d like to present our readers with a list of bars and respective drinks that might not result in a (pictured) Dylan Thomas-esque booze-induced fatality (for the record, not that we endorse drinking until you die — unless you balance it out by writing timeless poetry — but he did kick the bucket outside of the White Horse Tavern).

Milk and Honey: Fresh-squeezed fruit (oranges, lemons, limes, and apples) get pressed by hand every day for maximum Mentos-like freshness and enhance the nutritional value, which we’re told is a good thing. For those using the “I’m under the weather and can’t go out” excuse, get over it with a Penicillin Scotch, infused with honey, lemon, and ginger, which is known to assist in better digestion.

Employees Only: Beefeater Wet and Berentzen apple liquer go into Employees Only’s Ginger Smash, as well as muddled ginger root and fresh cranberries — apparently, adding booze to cranberries increases their antioxidant capacity. Lavender, a long-heralded headache remedy, when paired with other herbs, creates a tonic that strengthens the nervous system, done justice here in the Provençale (herbs de provence-infused vermouth, Cointreau, and lavender-infused Plymouth gin).

Counter: The vegan-oriented Counter serves up what they call an R-Rated Rootbeer Float, with wintergreen and vanilla-infused vodka. Wintergreen has sarsaparilla, which is known to fight both liver disease and syphilis — pronounced effects of hitting the bottle too much.

Finally, according to its press release, specialty sauce Veev promises a “better way to drink” (double-fisting? Funneling?) via a vodka-like mix of “wheat spirit” and the magical, Oprah-endorsed acai berry. Says Veev: “The dark purple berry has catapulted from the Brazilian Rainforest to the glasses of L.A.’s most influential tastemakers.” Like Gisele, but less German. While the website assures consumers that the product in no way promises to deliver health benefits, it can help deliver on the subconscious ideal and/or justification that what you’re doing is okay, which, when it comes to alcoholism, is pretty priceless to us.