This Week’s NY Happenings: Downtown Music Festival, SakaMai, KTCHN

FRIDAY: Rock & LoHo At Downtown Music Festival
The Lower East Side’s music cup runneth over as Downtown Records brings a second year of the Downtown Music Festival. The venues are a greatest-hits package of below-Houston spots. Mercury Lounge hosts Teengirl Fantasy, Cake Shop has Beach Fossils and Trash Talk, and nine different acts will take the stage at Tammany Hall. Even swank event space Capitale is in on the groove, hosting L.A.’s Black Hippy. The spaces are all intimate, so get your tickets quick.

The Downtown Music Festival runs Friday, May 10th and Saturday, May 11th, at venues like Cake Shop (152 Ludlow St., Lower East Side). To learn more about the bars, click on the listings in bold above.

NOW: Shuck It
The Lower East Side is your oyster tonight, as SakaMai lays on a “Shell & Sake” tasting. Take a guided tour through six sakes, expertly paired with a dozen bicoastal bivalves.

Shell and Sake starts at 6:30pm, tonight, May 6th, at SakaMai (157 Ludlow St., Lower East Side). Tickets are $75. To learn more about the sake bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

WEDNESDAY: Killer Instinct
The Out NYC’s house restaurant KTCHN kicks off a monthly dinner-and-a-movie series with a screening of Basic Instinct. They’re injecting some Rocky Horror, too—when Sharon Stone deploys her ice pick, you’ll find a Jack & Coke in front of you.  

Basic Instinct at KTCHN (510 W. 42nd St., Midtown West) starts at 7pm on Wednesday, May 8th. Prix fixe dinner is $49; wine pairings are an additional $25. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

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New York Openings: Shigure, SakaMai

Sake is not exactly an overplayed commodity in NYC. Only a few bars focus on it, and the drink is diverse enough to keep casual tipplers from building expertise. Two new downtown players, Shigure and SakaMai (pictured), are looking to make sake more accessible. To help you hold more liquor, they’re serving some tasty bar bites too.

Shigure derives its name from a cold rain, but its Tribeca home above B Flat is warm and cozy. Industrial seats and light fixtures play off exposed brick. The sake focus is regional, with a big numbered map on the wall to help you navigate the geography. (Fukushima is #17, if you’re wary). Shochu is on hand as well, available for creative cocktailing. On the bar bites side, the approach is "Japanese tapas." Shrimp, peppers, and edamame are all available fresh off the grill. Fried chicken comes marinated in shio koji, the newest umami-priming Japanese food trend. Yes, it’s a blend of fungus and salt, but it tastes a thousand times better than that.

SakaMai’s sake focus starts with its logo, which borrows the crest of rice harvesters. The name comes from the grains that are dedicated to sake. Just inside the front door you’ll find a pour bar, where you can sample sake flights. The rest of the space is understated, with a duplex rear reached past sheer white curtains and expanses of ancient tenement brick. Sake sampling is augmented by an artful cocktail program from an Angel’s Share hand. Bites swing equally thoughtful (and exotic). Beef doubles down with steak tartare and roasted bone marrow. Egg on Egg on Egg is as pretty as a jewel box, settling caviar, uni, and a scrambled egg into a sea urchin shell. If this is the city’s first sake lounge, keep ‘em coming.

Do you enjoy drinking in New York bars? Then check out BlackBook’s New York Guide for all the best spots. Raise your nightlife game by downloading the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android if you like. And to keep up on the hottest openings and events in New York, Miami, Chicago, and LA, sign up for BlackBook Happenings, a fun, informative, non-spammy email newsletter with the latest and greatest goings-on, delivered to your inbox every Monday.