Social Media Week, Nightlife Disrupt Panel, and Tonight’s Launch Party

So while most of the free world is in a NYC Fashion Week frenzy, some other folks have stuck in another week. Social Media Week is upon us and apparently I am social media. I know this because my good ol’ friend Michael Gogel and his pal Vikas Sapra have asked me to be on a panel. The Nightlife Disrupt Panel is described as follows:

"The nightlife industry has only recently started to utilize social media tools. Many currently use it to broadcast events, parties, and causes; however, few are harnessing social media’s ability to engage their audience. These digital tools lift the veil from nightlife, increase transparency, and disrupt the role of exclusivity. Will exclusivity be replaced by experience? Will we become content producers – live-streaming our events and big-name DJ sets? How will we adapt to this new environment?"
Disrupt is right. They want me to show up at this thing at 11am. That’s way too early for nightlifers, especially during Fashion Week. I’m going to just stay up and hit up Starbucks, Stumptown, and down a Redbull or three. Redbull is livestreaming the panel so I think I’ll be able to score some. Other panelists include Steven Rojas  – GrandLife Hotels, Social Media Director, Mick Boogie –, DJ, and my boy Michael Gogel: Nightlife Week, PPX World & Permanent Guestlist, Founder. Vikas will moderate. I looked up this Social Media Week thing and found out it’s a big deal taking place in over 20 different cities. I read this:
  • "…Reflecting the global impact of social media – and its role as a catalyst in driving cultural, economic, political and social change in developed and emerging markets – Social Media Week is one of the world’s most unique global platforms, offering a series of interconnected activities and conversations around the world on emerging trends in social and mobile media across all major industries. In just under three years, Social Media Week has expanded to 21 cities, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver, Sao Paulo, Rio De Janeiro, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Istanbul, London, Paris, Rome, Milan, Glasgow, Berlin, Moscow, Beirut, and Hong Kong. Starting in 2012, SMW is adding Tokyo, Singapore, DC and Miami.
  • Annually, SMW attracts more than 60,000 attendees across thousands of individually organized events, with half a million connecting to the conference online and through mobile.
  • “Social Media Week does not disappoint. It is a real-world manifestation of some of the best that new technology has to offer – ideas, strategies and insights shared by the people who are shaping the future” Ellen McGirt, Senior Writer, Fast Company.
  • “Social Media Week is a truly global phenomenon—showcasing borderless brands and communications, via the power of social media. We are proud to have been an integral partner—with PepsiCo employees contributing to discussions and idea exchanges on three continents and there, demonstrating the depth and breadth to which digital media is permeating our company.” Bonin Bough, Global Director of Social and Digital Media for PepsiCo.
I will be there on time for sure but might look a little more disheveled than usual. Michael Gogel tells me he’s about to launch another week-long conference/convention thingy. Let’s hope he doesnt overlap with these two thingy weeks! Please pick another week, Mike, and schedule panels for the late afternoon. I asked him all about it:
"I’ve been working for over a year now planning to launch Nightlife Week in the near future. This panel sets great precedence and a taste for what is to come, and I already know that I would love to have you back with me at that time. Nightlife Week‘s goal is to help build strong localized business to promote commerce and tourism through seven days and nights of on-site and off-site events, seminars, shows, awards, tastings, concerts, cocktail parties, brunches, product launches with a series of deals, discounts, and special offers. There are terrific financial implications for the city, small businesses, and all neighborhoods to promote themselves and grow revenue."
I will attend the official public launch event taking place at Pranna, 8-11pm tonight, sponsored by Radeberger, Medea Vodka, and Summerstage with music by Carsonicboom. Founded by Brian Kantor, a former BlackBook sales exec and pal, and produced by other former BlackBook alum and pals Kelly Bruce and Jessica Fafara of the newly formed New Regime Group. UPlanMe is a "social calendar" that takes your social media Likes and auto-populates your calendar with all the events you’d want to know about, based on your interests. Brian is a bon vivant and a treasure to talk to and I love that he’s launching this thingy.
This panel thing might be a big deal. DJ Rekha mentioned it to me as I stopped and chatted with her outside of Peels yesterday. For more info on the panel, here are two websights to check out: and
There are some other pertinent panels with industry panels also happening the same day which you can find on the websites. The event is tomorrow, Thursday, February 16 at the Dominion Theater, 428 Lafayette Street. Here’s the other stuff that’s going on in case you’ve heard enough from me.
10:00am – 10:45am
A Conversation with Nick Jonas, moderated by Jason King
11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Nightlife Disrupt: Social Media’s Impact Moderated by Vikas Sapra, DJ and @NYNightlife – Anonymous (virtual panelist)
Michael Gogel: Nightlife Week, PPX World & Permanent Guestlist, Founder Steve Lewis – BlackBook Magazine, Nightlife Correspondant Steven Rojas – GrandLife Hotels, Social Media Director Mick Boogie –, DJ
SPIN presents: “Music criticism is dead, long live music criticism.”
Can 140-characters do justice to journalism?
Chris Weingarten – Editor, Spin Magazine
5:30pm – 6:30pm
Translation Presents Connectivity: Discovering The power of social communities in music Moderated by Marcus Collins, Director of Social Engagement at Translation LLC
Panelists include:
Constantine Roussos (dotMUSIC Initiative Leader) Angela Yee (Morning Show Co-Host for Eminem’s Hip-Hop Radio Station on Sirius) David Sonenberg (Owner – DAS Communications) TBA
7:00pm -8:00 pm
“I Know The DJ: How Social Media Has Fueled the Explosive Growth Of EDM in America”
Moderated by Zev Norotsky of Elektro Magazine
Eddie Dean (President Pacha New York)
Lee Anderson (AM Only)
Laurence Lui (Astralwerks)
Justin Kleinfeld (Rephlektro)
DJ Junior Sanchez
8:00pm – 10:00pm
MIXER AND COCKTAILS w/ DJ Performance by Junior Sanchez – presented by Elektro Magazine

This Week’s NYC Happenings: THE LCL, Output, Village Pourhouse

Greenmarket Cocktailing at the Just-Opened THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen
The Gerber Group of Stone Rose and Whiskey Blue fame opens its first NYC restaurant: THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen, which holds down the lobby of the Westin Grand Central with a versatile bar, lounge, and dining room space. You will drink well, whether its Stumptown at breakfast, Organic Avenue at lunch, or a biodynamic wine for dinner. Enjoy multiple trends at once with farm-to-bar cocktails, rocking cold-pressed juice, organic booze, and greenmarket add-ons. On the dining side, look for elevated comfort food like Pat LaFrieda burgers and New York cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese.
THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen (212 E. 42nd St., Midtown East) opens today. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

NOW: Beats For Billyburg
The team behind Cielo deliver the first proper dance club in Brooklyn with the opening of Output. Funktion-One covers a killer sound system, and global DJ talent provides the beats.
Output (74 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg) is open now. To learn more about the club, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

WEDNESDAY: Beer & Kisses
All gender clichés aside, a night of beer, cherries, and chocolate makes both halves of a date happy. This Wednesday, Village Pourhouse hosts a beer sommelier for flights and pairings. You’ll also get take-home notes, should you want to put anything to work on Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate and Cherry Beer Tasting at Village Pourhouse (64 Third Ave., East Village) starts Wednesday night at 7pm, repeated the following Wednesday. Tickets are $40. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Find out first about the latest openings and events in NYC by signing up for BlackBook Happenings, the email brought right to your inbox every Monday. And download the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android.

Press Button, Receive Coffee: A Call For The Return of the Automat

I keep quarters for laundry in a little cup on the corner of my desk in a ceramic version of the classic Greek diner coffee cup, or the Anthora cup, which apparently littered New York in the ’60s and ’70s. One of my secret wishes since moving back to the city—up there with dating an Olsen twin—has been to order a cup of coffee to-go and have it served in one of those blue and white, “we are happy to serve you” paper gems. It’s been a year now, and no such luck on either front.

But a visit paid the other morning to the Lunch Hour NYC exhibit at the New York Public Library pushed my coffee nostalgia a few decades further back. In 1912, Joe Horn and Frank Hardart opened their flagship H&H Automat in Times Square, serving cheap plates of baked beans and beef in burgundy sauce. If less than appetizing, the Depression was enough to bring the droves around to school-lunch fare. But their delicacy was always known to be the cup of mud with one drawn on the side, or coffee with cream. Pop a nickel into one of these incredibly ornate silver dispensers, throw down your ceramic mug, and with the push of a button you had a hot, fresh cup! It wasn’t until 1950 that they bumped the price up to a dime, which I guess alienated a sizeable chunk of the fan base. The last Automat officially closed in 1991, but by then New Yorkers had sort of lost their regard for cheap java. I was born in 1989 to two residents of a building on East 3rd Street featured in People Magazine for yuppifying the Hell’s Angels’ block. For shame. Five years later, Howard Schultz opened the first Starbucks in New York, and all went to hell.

Though it appears now that Starbucks may be on the decline, known less as an espresso haven and more as a convenient place in Midtown to move one’s bowels. Last fall, both GOOD and The New Yorker reported on the upswing of coffee shops like Stumptown (in fairness, the Ace Hotel is also a great place to use the bathroom) and Intelligentsia, which put the focus on quality beans brewed in press pots and served black. Many of the employees even wear suspenders and cute hats, in keeping with the old fashioned ethos. But a copy of the Coffeeman’s instructions from H&H, as interpreted by someone who’s read the aforementioned articles, seemed to suggest that Automat coffee, if recreated, may give the artisanal cup a run for its nickels.

I showed a transcript of the recipe to the Coffeeman at Crop to Cup, an importer and purveyor of ethical beans down here in Gowanus, and he said it appears to have been a good, full immersion brew. That is, you had French press-quality coffee supplied to the urns fresh every hour. The exhibit placard said H&H used a “special blend of six different [beans] plus a little chicory”—perhaps not of the quality of the Uganda Bugisu beans he used for my pour-over cup, but serviceable no doubt. And the instructions were laced with plenty of other wise turns, such that they ultimately won my confidence (e.g. “Be especially careful in the early morning of making coffee properly”).

And so, my call goes out to you, entrepreneurial Brooklynites. Revive the Automats as coffee shops, with those art deco placards, elegant dispensers and urns of full immersion-brewed, chicory-laced blends. Just retrofit the nickel slots to take quarters. I’ve got a cup full of ’em. And besides, it’s Brooklyn—who needs to do laundry anyway, am I right?

Follow James Ramsay on Twitter.

Tour de Brooklyn: A Borough Grub Crawl

Last weekend Bon Appetit magazine teamed up with Belvedere Vodka and Chase Sapphire to take a tour of the ever-expanding Brooklyn Food scene. Focusing on three key neighborhoods, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg, and Red Hook, the tours worked to really highlight some of the areas’ best food options, while making it walker-friendly.

I was lucky enough to join Friday’s Cobble Hill grub crawl and started out at Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli’s Italian inspired restaurant Frankies 457 Spuntino. The joint was packed inside, but luckily we ducked out into the garden to sip a berry-ripe lambrusco and nibble on seasonal crostini. The way the tour worked was that they had four groups of people intermittently going to one of the four spots where we stayed for about 45 minutes. Frankies proved a good place to start, but our next stop felt a little awkward.

Dessert before dinner, anyone? Not that I am actually complaining. Given our tour took us to Kim Ima’s brick-and-mortar location of Treats Truck and to a pile of luscious peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cookies, it was a win-win situation. We followed that up with Clover Club and had a lovely punch by cocktail goddess Julie Reiner, who was actually there explaining her drink, giving us a recipe, and then pouring up their house drink comprised of raspberries and Dorothy Parker gin. We ended the night at Seersucker and sampled chef Robert Newton’s sinful fried chicken, fluffy biscuits, pimento cheese, and the Thirsty Owl Riesling that they have on tap. All together, the tour did highlight some of the hottest spots in the neighborhood right now.

On Saturday they covered Williamsburg and smartly chose Rye for cocktails, Maison Premiere for oysters, and Brooklyn Winery for a tour and wine tasting. The other two places I was less impressed with and would have skipped, one of which was Allswell because, frankly, it’s not anything special. Same for the jaunt to the Meatball Shop; while it’s delicious, there’s nothing Brooklyn about it given its two other locations in Manhattan. Sunday’s food crawl took place in Red Hook and did the neighborhood well by hitting up Stumptown Coffee Roasters, trying St. John Frizell’s southern-style Fort Defiance, eating Korean breakfast at The Good Fork, filling up on smoked meat at Mile End, and dancing at the historical bar Sunny’s.

Overall, the folks behind the tour did well to give a broad sampling of the neighborhoods that you can easily walk around in. The only other location I would have included is Prospect Heights where you can easily indulge in seasonal nibbles from The Vanderbilt, cocktails at Weather Up, ramen at Chuko, and oysters at Cornelius—but I guess that’s a good excuse to do that one on my own. 

Industry Insiders: Duane Sorenson, Coffee Master

There’s no such thing as a simple brew for Stumptown Coffee founder Duane Sorenson. Growing up in Seattle in the ’90s during the peak of the coffee craze, he saw breathlessly-hyped espresso bars popping up everywhere, though not all of them were worthy of the buzz. Working in myriad bars and shops throughout his youth, the constant hum of the coffee makers and the smooth, dark elixirs they produced kindled in Sorenson a deep appreciation for the fine art of a handcrafted roast. After climbing the ranks from barista, to buyer, to roaster, he decided to take the plunge and move to Portland and make a name for himself in one of the world’s coffee capitals. Stumptown is now a highly successful company, generating excitement on both coasts. With its attention to detail and focus on providing the highest quality possible, Stumptown has managed to prosper despite stifling competition from big corporate chains and the finicky nature of discerning drinkers. We caught up with Sorenson to discuss his affinity for coffee, what makes Stumptown unique, and how to brew his perfect cup o’ joe.

Have always been a coffee drinker? Yeah. As a kid, when I would go to work with my parents I’d drink it, so I started off at the tender age of seven or eight. I was born and raised up around Seattle, so by the time I was in high school the espresso craze had started. Independent espresso and coffee bars were starting to pop up when I was in junior high and they were where I first started working with coffee. I worked in some coffee bars and then, when I graduated from high school, I moved up to Seattle and continued to work with coffee. In my senior year of college, I was offered a job to roast coffee and to be a coffee buyer. So, I dropped out of college and started an apprenticeship to roast coffee and I was with that company for quite a few years as their head roaster. From there, I went to work with a few other coffee roasting companies in Seattle before deciding to move to Portland to start my own company.

How did Stumptown get its start? Well, I took all the saving out of my bank account and got a nighttime job at a bar, back in 1999. I worked at night and during the day I was building my first coffee bar where we also roasted coffee. From then on we expanded up to Seattle and now in New York, in both Manhattan and Brooklyn.

What is it about coffee that you’re so passionate about? I’ve always enjoyed coffee and I was born and raised in a specialty food household. My father was a butcher and a sausage maker and he really focused on artisan producers and handcrafted products and spices. So, through my father shoving different artisanal products in my face growing up, I developed an appreciation for high-quality, speciality food items. When coffee began getting more recognition in my neck of the woods (the Pacific Northwest) I started tasting and finding different coffees. I began noticing the differences between Kenyan, Guatemalan, and Indonesia coffees. That was very exciting for me, seeing the different farms and the different varieties of coffee and how they were similar to wine. I stuck with it and it became more and more exciting as people’s knowledge of coffee also grew. My customers had an appreciation for speciality coffee and how I remembered what they drank. It has really turned into a passion and a learning experience. Every day I’m learning something new about coffee, brewing coffee, growing coffee, and its production.

Where are some of your more exotic coffees from? Well, that’s the thing with coffee. It’s mostly grown in exotic places, so that’s kind of a benefit. I’ve been traveling around the globe for about 16 years as a coffee buyer, getting coffee directly from the farms. The quality is getting better every year because of the demand for speciality coffee. I’m mainly going to countries in Central America and Eastern Africa, and it’s pretty awesome.

A lot of people think of coffee as quick, on-the-go pick-me-up, but it seems like you’re trying to bring back taking your time and enjoying a real cup of coffee without all the frills. Yes, but at the same time, I appreciate and want to continue it being an on-the-go product if someone needs it to be. There are times when I can’t sit in a coffee bar and read the paper. A lot of the time I have to take it on the road. With coffee, it can be enjoyed like that. It’s much more difficult to enjoy spaghetti and meatballs in your car while you’re driving to work.

What’s different about Stumptown coffee that allows it to succeed despite the competition on every corner? There’s a lot of things that are important to us that make us different because of the focus that we have. Quality of coffee is huge. The selection and the farms that we choose to work with are the best in the world. We spend three weeks out of every month looking for the finest coffee growers in the world. Our roasting style and how we roast our coffee is also pretty unique. It’s very manual, it’s an old world kind of style of roasting coffee. It takes a roaster operator – a person to develop the flavors in the coffee. Our coffee bars also don’t look like many other coffee bars. We spend a lot of time and energy on the details of the materials that we use and also the training for our baristas. We spend every single day with them working on service and how to make great, consistent, and fast coffee for our customers.

So people are willing to pay more money for your coffee because of the quality? It’s a certain market. We don’t intend or plan on selling our coffee to everyone, it’s not realistic. Our coffee costs more but is different in flavor and quality than a bodega cup of coffee served in one of those Greek blue and white paper cups. You almost can’t compare the product. We charge more money for our coffee – we’re talking nickels and dimes, not dollars – but it’s a lot more approachable for the consumer to get a cup at Stumptown compared to what else they’re getting.

Do you have any special in-house brewing methods? We brew our coffee using a French press, which is pretty unheard of for brewing coffee in a coffee bar. Both our espresso beverages and our brewed cup of coffees are pretty unique for a coffee bar. That’s definitely another reason why Stumptown has been successful and has gotten such a following.

What’s your perfect cup of coffee? I mean, I’m drinking coffee all day long. I usually start the morning with some espresso and also brewing coffee with a chemex coffee maker, which is a pretty old school coffee maker that was developed in the ’50s. It’s pretty much just a glass pot cylinder where you pour water over the coffee through a filter on top. It makes a very pure and clean cup of coffee and it’s a way to really taste nuances and the delicacies of some coffees. As far as coffees go, what I’m drinking and brewing throughout the day depends on the time of year. Right now until probably Christmas time, I’ll be drinking a lot of Central American and Eastern African coffees.

What are your plans for the future? Do you plan on expanding more across the country? Maybe not across the country, but now that I’m living in Brooklyn, we’ll probably open up another coffee bar in Manhattan and/or Brooklyn over the next couple of years.

Replace Four Loko with Naturally Caffeinated Beer

So, Four Loko was banned, and I couldn’t care less. Not that I’m in favor of the government deciding what adult citizens should or shouldn’t put in their bodies. It’s just that the drink never appealed to me, what with the fact of it being so gross. But for those already mourning their Four Loko buzz, even as they continue to nurse their Four Loko hangovers, never fear, there are other options. Consider fun-looking, naturally-caffeinated beers, like the fantastic new Brooklyn Brewery/Stumptown coffee collaboration, Brooklyn Intensified Coffee Stout.

Even if these coffee-beer hybrids get banned too, you can always go old school, and simply mix caffeine and booze yourself. Whatever happened to good old Irish coffee, rum and coke, and vodka and red bull? And yes, I know that Four Loko had as much caffeine as six cups of coffee, not one. But seriously, if you really need six cups of coffee to get you going, you’re better of doing hard drugs.