This Week’s NY Happenings: Taste Of The LES, Maison Premiere, Greenpoint Brunchtacular

THURSDAY: Taste Of The Lower East Side
As benefits with bites go, it’s hard to beat the Taste of the Lower East Side for both breadth and depth. Fifty top neighborhood joints will come together at 82MERCER for an all-you-can-eat extravaganza. Newer hands like Pig and Khao, Jeepney, and The Leadbelly rub shoulders with established pros like Alias and wd-50. There’s craft beer and wine to wash it down, and a danceable soundtrack from DJ AndrewAndrew. A silent auction will tempt you too, with everything from SoulCycle classes to a Rao’s reservation, all to benefit the Grand St. Settlement.

Taste of the Lower East Side starts at 7pm on Thursday, April 25th, at 82MERCER (82 Mercer St., Soho). General admission tickets are $195 ($125 is tax-deductible). To learn more about the event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

NOW: One More Trafalgar Julep
Spring has sprung at Williamsburg’s Maison Premiere. A new chef (Lisa Giffen, late of Daniel and Blue Hill) plies the kitchen, and the spring cocktail menu has been unveiled. Enjoy a full lineup of refreshing juleps like the Trafalgar (gin, sherry, crème de menthe, and lemon).

Spring cocktail menu now available at Maison Premiere (298 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg). To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SATURDAY: Honeyed Brunch
To raise money for Sandy recovery, Greenpoint’s t.b.d. is hosting an epic brunch in the yard this Saturday. Neighbors as diverse as Anella, Action Burger, and Selamat Pagi will lay out a spread, accompanied by that most indispensible of brunch items—bottomless mimosas.

Rally Downtown’s Greenpoint Brunchtacular starts at noon on Saturday, April 27th, at t.b.d. (224 Franklin St., Greenpoint). Tickets are $30, or $50 for two. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Know every inch of this city by visiting BlackBook’s NY City Guides

Las Vegas Opening: Cognac Lounge at Caesars Palace

If there can be an entire restaurant dedicated to grilled cheese, then certainly a temple to one of the world’s most hallowed tipples seems more than reasonable, especially in Las Vegas. And the Cognac Lounge comes by way of equally hallowed culinary god Guy Savoy, whose restaurant in Vegas’ Caesars Palace has already earned two Michelin stars. Bottles are not "stocked" here–they’re "acquired." And several are exclusive to the restaurant and lounge, including the 140-years-aged Perfection by Hardy, a special Hennessy Ellipse, and the 1990-bottled Hine Talent, fittingly housed in hand-etched Baccarat crystal.

The strikingly contemporary room (no Chesterfields or Churchill portraits here, chaps), sets sumptuous brown leathers against a wall of architecturally assembled bottles, with a sleek modern fireplace–which does seem a bit superfluous in the desert–as a backdrop to it all. The Cognac Lounge decisively advances the rise of the legendary Vegas hotel as a formidable epicurean destination unto itself, with Nobu, Rao’s, and Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill already joining Guy Savoy in its dining corridors.

[Related: BlackBook Las Vegas Guide; Listings for Cognac Lounge, Restaurant Guy Savoy, Nobu, Rao’s, Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill; More by Ken Scrudato; Follow Ken on Twitter]

MTV Staying Alive Foundation Party at ACE Hotel: Good Fun for a Good Cause

Monday night’s MTV Staying Alive Foundation party at the Ace Hotel was packed with a trendy crowd, free-flowing cocktails, and a worthwhile cause.  Through a unique photography silent auction and a live (and very lively) auction, the Foundation helped raise awareness and funds for young people involved in the education and prevention of HIV/AIDS. Sponsors included The Breslin, Ace Hotel, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, 1947 Beer, and yours truly. With HIV/AIDS rates soaring in the midst of a funding crisis, the need for awareness couldn’t be more topical and exigent. 

Funky and fashionable New York sophisticates, cradling cocktails and complimentary caramel corn, placed silent bids for rare photographs of The Beatles, tickets to see The Roots perform live, and a getaway in upstate wine country. For the live auction, the offerings were generous and irresistible, as several patrons excitedly scooped up a tour of Yankee stadium, VMA tickets and a walk on the red carpet, and an in-home group dinner prepared by a venerated Rao’s chef. A performance by The Roots’ Questlove and Black Thought filled the evening with hip-swaying reggae and the quintessential, feel-good accompaniment to a good cause. 

How to Celebrate Jay-Z’s 40th Birthday

Can I get a “Happy Birthday!” to Jay-Z? The man you told you in 96 that he’d come to take this shit (and he did!) is now 40 years-old. Awh! As anybody who listened to The Black Album more than twice knows, December 4th is the day Gloria Carter gave birth to Shawn Carter, who was born weighing in at ten pounds, eight ounces. He was the last of her four children, and he learned how to ride a bike and listen to music and was special, because he became Jay-Z. Yay! What can you do to celebrate Hov’s ascension into being the most successful middle-aged hip hop icon and mogul in the history of the universe?

1. Read blogs! The Awl offers up a viewing of the “December 4th” video, in which Beyoncé raps for Jay-Z in and around what appears to be Marcy Projects! Flavorwire offers up 40 Fun Facts about Jiggaman, while Rap Radar notes Jay-Z’s new ride acquired for the “On To The Next One” video, Vibe (Vibe!) takes to the streets to get The People’s thoughts on Hova’s birthday, and SOHH reports on Busta Rhymes’ well-wishing.

2. Eat like Hov! Since you probably can’t get a reservation at Rao’s — the hardest reservation in town and location of Jay-Z’s dinner in the “D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)” video — you should be able to get in at Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s favorite pizza in town, at Lucali, where Hov and B duck in on the DL for their weekly slice date.

3. Party like Hov! You can always get down in Jay-Z’s 40/40 club in New York, which he stops into often and takes meetings at. You could hit Avenue, where he’s been spotted getting down. Or you could just go to the Dominican Republic, where Jay-Z and Beyoncé actually are vacationing for Mr. Carter’s 40th. Or:

4. Just rock his jams. I’m sure he won’t mind. Jay-Z, you give us hope for old age. Or at least hope for you in old age. You might not still “fuck ’em while [you] diss ’em” but you are still “a pimp by blood, not re-lat-ion,” and while everyone else “be chasin,” you “(are) replac(ing) them.” Here’s to 41.