Barbecue For Breakfast? NYC’s The Lion Launches New Summer Brunch

During summer, anything goes. Hooking up with your ex’s best friend’s little brother? Why not. Downing bellinis and playing dirty Hangman on napkins? Cool. Eating barbecue for breakfast? Absolutely. At The Lion – the West Village’s dark wood-skylight-filled restaurant – you can do all of the above thanks to its new $25 Sunday BBQ brunch menu: Lion’s delicious invention that unites smoked pork butt, fried oyster po’boys, and jalapeno-spiked corn bread, all before noon. 

The BBQ brunch menu runs alongside Lion’s usual brunch menu full of fluffy pancakes and wild rice waffles & fried chicken. But it gives it that extra summer edge. Why not eat pulled BBQ-pork sandwich and juicy burgers at 11am? Who’s stopping us from toasting the commencement of summer with a handful of crispy onion rings and a Bloody Mary. Nobody. At The Lion, it’s encouraged. Eat responsibly? No way. 

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Springtime Bubbles: An Uplifting Prosecco, and a Mindblowing Cocktail Recipe to Try It With

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn. We were done being active for the day, but hadn’t quite gotten around to the Sunday-night bill-paying and paperwork that cries for attention sometime between 9pm and midnight. Nope, it was the perfect interval to sit in the sunshine on the balcony and do nothing but daydream and watch the parrots jockey for position on the pine tree in the backyard. My wife and I weren’t sitting for more than five minutes before we turned to each other and said, at exactly the same time, "Should we get something to drink?" Wordlessly, I rose and went to the refrigerator, where a bottle of Ruffino Prosecco ($15) awaited. I quickly popped the cork, poured two flutes, and returned to our patch of sun, where we clinked glasses and the day became a dream of a day. 

Plenty of cocktails taste good under a warm springtime sun, but sparkling wine–champagne, prosecco, cava, American, it’s all good with me–adds a lively, festive element to the laziest of pastimes: slowly drinking away an afternoon. And on this afternoon, when so many things called for our attention, all I cared to focus on was the beautiful parade of a million little bubbles, somehow rising from a specific spot the bottom of my glass in a circular pattern, billowing like so many puffs of smoke. The sunlight hit the glass, a parrot squawked, and I forgot about every problem that seemed so important a few minutes earlier. We sipped and savored the medium-dry wine with notes of pear and focused on focusing on nothing. 

That’s the most casual relationship you can have with a sparkling wine. For a more complicated treatment that yields something truly sublime, gather some ingredients and mix up a sparkling wine cocktail like the one bartender Ben Scorah of NYC’s The Lion mixed for me last week. Ben’s a legend in his field for good reason. He’s adept at conjuring amazing flavors out of ingredients both common and rare, a skill set that yielded a creation he calls the Royal Gin Fizz. It’s the most remarkable champagne cocktail I’ve ever tried, and if you don’t feel like mixing one for yourself (e.g., you don’t happen to have a bottle of Crème de Violette in your liquor cabinet) I highly recommend dropping by The Lion when he’s working and ordering one. Here’s a recipe, just in case.

Royal Gin Fizz 

2 oz Dorothy Parker Gin

3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

1/4 oz fresh lime juice

1/2 oz heavy cream

1/2 oz Crème de Violette

1/2 oz simple syrup

1 organic egg white

1 small dash rose water

Shake ingredients and strain into a collins glass, top up with Brut Champagne. Garnish with dried rose buds and violet flowers.

*As you can see, Scorah recommends Brut Champagne, but if you want to try it with Prosecco or any other sparkler, go for it.

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New York’s Top Easter Brunches

Congratulations. You’ve made it through the 40-day period of Lent and are now entering an entire day of divine gluttony known as Easter. Just like Jesus, you too are resurrected, as your worst vices –  ice cream sundaes before bed, chocolate after lunch, and mustard & salami sandwiches – are raised from the dead newly available during a meal known as “the moveable feast.” But since we all know the most moving we’ll be doing is from the table to the couch/reaching for the Italian bread, let’s get started on where to eat. Here are the restaurants serving New York’s Top Easter Brunches

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Opening Across NYC: Four Steakhouses

It’s not exactly rigorous science, but the launching of new steakhouses must say something positive about the state of the economy. The beneficiaries are outside of downtown, in the natural habitats of expense accounts and the people who fund them. On Friday, the Arlington Club will make a big splash on a Lexington Avenue corner. The space has housed UES demographics as reliable as a Republican club and a skating rink, and this clubby steak palace fits right in with the pedigree. Arched ceilings and skylights make for dramatic overheads. Earth-toned accents and vintage black and whites amplify the “club” in the name. Fusion pros Tao have joined forces with Laurent Tourondel for the steakhouse menu. There will be red meat, of course, highlighted by a signature côte de boeuf dry-aged for four weeks. If you find yourself with a sexy cardiologist to impress, you can opt for creative sushi, like peekytoe crab with mango and curry-lemongrass.

While the original Delmonico’s dusts off from Sandy, midtown welcomes a spin-off 175 years in the making. Delmonico’s Kitchen combines the heritage of the original with up-to-date vibes. Candlelit tables, red leather banquettes, and a long marble bar anchor the scene. The menu stands ready for the 21st century, employing organic and local ingredients, and freshening up signatures like lobster Newburg and baked Alaska. Perilously large and juicy steaks justify the legends. If you’re not in the mood for beef, rest assured they know their way around a plate of eggs Benedict. They invented it.

Brasserie fare is the focus of the newest version of The Smith, holding down prime (pun intended) real estate across from Lincoln Center. Unlike its two siblings, uptown has an expanded steak program, with filet mignon, NY strip, and prime rib among the offerings. The interior is McNally-esque, crossing a French café with homegrown industrial chic. White tile, blackened steel, and a zinc bar bump the atmosphere. An elaborate drinks program breaks things down into muddlers, fancy cocktails, and long pours, ensuring you’ll never sit through Le Nozze di Figaro sober again. (Although if for some reason you want to, they also have low-alcohol pre-theater mixes.)

The latest from John DeLucie of Crown and The Lion fame is the reboot of a classic ’20s speakeasy. “Gay” and “Nineties” are gone from the name, leaving just a stripped-down Bill’s. The historical interior is likewise absent, although the look remains eclectic, littered with artwork and the odd deer head and captain’s wheel. White tablecloths are laid out for a chophouse menu. A raw bar starts things off, running from oysters and stone crab claws to California golden osetra. Racks of lamb, rib-eyes, and 35-day prime porterhouses follow. There’s even a Delmonico, in case you can’t make it across town for the original.

Steak is back. We’ll never eat bánh mì again.

What’s Behind NYC’s Hottest Restaurant Clientele?

Eater’s‘s recent post, “The 12 New York Restaurants With the Hottest Clientele,” was pretty spot on. I, too, have noticed the overflow of pretties as I patiently tried to nurse my hangover at Peels; I’ve checked out the front table at The Smile; and I’ve unsuccessfully tried to keep my date’s attention at La Esquina. (Which is crazy, because who can even see in that dark cavern?) In any case, there are reasons—good, plausible reasons, I tell ya!—why gorgeous cats congregate at these locales. Check it.

Peels Anything this closely related to anal warts means people are getting it on. Also: people who stick together like some kind of secret society are usually pretty—just ask cheerleaders—and the people who vie for their attention usually have low self-esteem but fancy themselves pretty, too. I mean to reference Adam Platt’s take on the kind of tight-knit crowd that frequents restaurateurs William Tigertt and Taavo Somer’s Freemans and Peels: “And although I never had a really bad dinner at Peels, I never enjoyed anything close to that clubby, clannish sense of occasion that makes Freemans such a unique place to eat,” Platt wrote. Sort of like saying he doesn’t want to hang out with Peels because she’s the Prom queen, right?

Rubirosa Leave it to Angelo Bianchi, former gatekeeper of the Beatrice Inn, to attract his attractive friends and former Bea clientele to his (delish, truly yummy) Nolita pizza spot. Even Eater admits Bianchi is curating Rubirosa’s cool, without actually admitting it: “Think Chloe Sevigny/Paul Sevigny types.” Those “types” happen to be proprieter/proprieter’s sister of the Beatrice Inn.

The Smile Eater says “The real hotties can be found between 1:30pm-3:00pm, Monday-Thursday.” That’s when owners/rugged cowboy babes Matt Kliegman & Carlos Quirarte drop by. Coincidence?

The Lion “In this super-VIP lounge, you might see Gwyneth and Chris, Matthew and Sarah Jessica, and maybe a Ronson or two.” No kidding, Eater. Those special-people types can also afford to pay for their $105 steak. You know who else can? Pretty, young women on the arms of Amex-wielding men. Oh, and trust-funders—who can also pay to pretty up. So, yeah. Also, in the vein of “birds of a feather flock together,” the art that adorns The Lion’s walls comes from the personal collection of this woman: image

Introducing Blake Lively: Serious Actress

Somewhere between Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2 and last week’s episode of Gossip Girl, Blake Lively has transformed into one of the most in-demand actresses in Hollywood. When did this happen? And how? Yesterday, Deadline revealed Christopher Nolan’s shortlist of female leads for The Dark Knight Returns, and Blake Lively is on it with a bunch of other actresses that just a few months ago were way out of her league. Now they’re all batting similar averages, and we’re borderline unable to sleep, trying to figure out how this all happened, seemingly overnight.

The list of actresses Nolan is considering for his third Batman movie are: Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman, Naomi Watts, Anne Hathaway, Keira Knightley, and Lively, which means five Oscar winning or nominated actresses, and Serena Van Der Woodsen. But it’s not just the Batman list that has us questioning everything we’ve ever known. There was the Alfonso Cuaron space movie, Gravity, that had names like Portman and Johansson in its orbit. And Lively. The role eventually went to Sandra Bullock, a very un-Blake Lively-esque actress if we’ve ever seen one (and we’ve seen plenty).

There were also the more recent rumors that Lively is up for the role of Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann’s retelling of The Great Gatsby, opposite Leonardo Dicaprio and Tobey Maguire. The other actresses in contention? Keira Knightley, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams, Abbie Cornish, and Amanda Seyfried. See what we mean? Lively’s chances looked bright after she was spotted at The Lion last week, having dinner with Luhrmann and Dicaprio.

So here’s the question: What do these serious auteurs see in an actress who made her name on a WB show? Was her performance as a heart-of-gold hooker in Ben Affleck’s The Town so revelatory as to make her a leading lady in prestige films? Probably not. Is it possible that buzz about her performance as Carol Ferris in next summer’s Green Lantern is that strong? Nope. The key to Lively’s sudden surge may lie with the skills she showed in the little-seen drama The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, where she played the young version of the title character. But even then, it was Robin Wright Penn’s performance as older Pippa that got most of the acclaim.

The truth is, we’re stumped. Other than the fact that she is drop dead gorgeous, her private life is drama-free, and she’s a fresh, new face in multiplexes, we really don’t get the appeal.

Midnight Mixologists: John Byrd’s Toplist

John Byrd, veteran barman of The Bedford in Williamsburg, brings the originality and quality of a swanky mixologist-concocted cocktails to Brooklyn’s finest. Byrd started bartending in Boston over fifteen years ago and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. The “ladies and the gays” help him name his creations, and older people are his inspiration. Take, for instance, the Mrs. Dillin (carrot juice, lime, Stoli Ohranj), a cocktail inspired by his 86-year-old grandma, who drinks a Stoli version every day. Bryd’s also the creator of the Brooklyn Barman, providing supplies and tools—custom bar knives, jiggers, bar bags—for the average bartender. He’s the kind of guy you want to sit down and have a drink with, especially if he’s the one pouring them. Check out John Byrd’s favorite spots to grab a cocktail in New York City.

The BedfordB FlatThe LionBar CentraleDramMacao Trading Co.Angel’s ShareThe Counting Room

See more Midnight Mixologists toplists here.

Nightlife Try Outs: Ricardo Garcia’s Banker-Cum-Nightlifer Itinerary

It’s a Thursday night and I’m uptown at Lavo surveying the scene: there’s Irina Shayk; hoards of other models that I can’t really see because Irina Shayk’s image has just been permanently etched into my retina; decent looking women; not-so-decent-looking women, who sleep with promoters and staff to prove they can be useful. For every ten of these women, there’s one graying, dapper, monied man, to whom they cling. I’m in the corner guzzling drinks and contemplating why every man with half (an empty) brain doesn’t feel compelled to drop whatever else he’s got going on to do this “daddy” routine. Then memory takes me back to one man who did. I’ve seen Ricardo Garcia at just about every event I’ve gone to in the last three years. In the early days, he’d have to leave relatively early – 2am – to be fresh for the next day’s work investing something into something else. He was always either just drunk enough to approach every girl in the room, or just nice enough. Camera in hand, he’d ask to take everyone’s picture—usually pretty girls in droves—and aim to find them on Facebook the next day in order to tag them. Oldest game in the book, I’d say, but he was shrewdly doing it to build up his connections in the nightlife arena. Now he’s a full-time nighttime kind of guy, running an events and branding company, all thanks to this early “daddy” routine. Smart guy. Here’s what his nightlife looks like, now that he doesn’t have finance stuff to worry about.

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Name: Ricardo Antonio Garcia Professional Resume: I am a former Merger & Acquisitions Financier that now owns and operates Red Hot-PR, a New York and London based PR firm concentrating on brand building, event planning, promotions, talent management, photo production, public relations, entertainment financing, and media coverage. I also founded Red Hot-Society, which is an online weekly fashion, entertainment, and events newsletter covering various social activities and featuring only the direct scene without the “fluff.” New York Nightlife in a Word: It used to be “Champagne Bollinger.” Now it’s more Patron.

City Loves: Lunch spot: Sant Ambroeus. Both locations in the city and Southampton. • Dinner spot: South Gate in the Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South. • Nightlife trend: The Box has been a four-year trend for me • Drink of choice: Star Vodka by Charles Ferri, on the rocks with a lime twist. • Meal of choice: Filet Mignon with potato mash and Saint Émilion • Group of people to bump into: Doesn’t matter, as long as they are good looking.

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City GripesNightlife trend you loathe: SL and Provocateur, and other places where the nouveau bourgeoisie congregate in their wannabe nouveau riche style and demeanor. • Drink: I never understood “infused” liquors. • Meal: I am not a fan of curry. • Group of people to bump into: Anyone who thinks they are royalty because they made few bucks lately, or obtained some exposure via media, reality TV, or some other vessel.

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His HotspotsMonday: La Zarza, cozy and a nice looking crowd, great music. •Tuesday: La Vie for a hookah and vodka, then some private event invite usually pops up elsewhere. •Wednesday: Mari Vanna for early cocktails/dinner then late night loft party or private event. •Thursday: Le Cirque for pre cocktails/dinner then CV Lounge late night. •Friday: Dinner at De Santos, cocktails after at The Lion, then avoiding the B and T crowd, so perhaps a local bar late night, or a private house party in Nantucket or Southampton, if it’s the summer months. •Saturday: Dinner and drinks local—walking distance: Travertine, Freeman’s, or Madame Geneva. Usually, there’s too much B and T to make it a “night,” unless I’m in Nantucket or Southampton for a house party. •Sunday: Charbon for a burger and wine, Union Square Lounge for their Brazilian Model Party, and maybe cocktails at Café Habana.

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Every night: I like the Crosby Bar in the Crosby Street Hotel. •Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Abe & Arthur’s, Avenue, The Collective, SL, Provocateur, and Pacha. •For special occasions: Bemelmans Bar for piano jazz, or Café Carlyle for Woody Allen’s band on Mondays. • Brunch is usually: The Odeon.

Where Celebs Go Out: Mario Batali, Mayor Bloomberg, Danielle Staub

Mario Batali at the opening of Eataly: My favorite places to eat are generally downtown in the Village: Pearl Oyster Bar, Spotted Pig, Grand Sichuan. My favorite thing to eat is anything anyone else makes! Da Silvano has an octopus salad and octopus grill that’s really beautiful. ● Mayor Mike Bloomberg at the opening of Eataly: There are 20,000 restaurants in New York City, and I try to eat at every single one of them. ● Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: wd-50, and in Brooklyn, Pacifico, the Mexican restaurant on Pacific St.

Drew Nieporent at Travel + Leisure‘s World’s Best Awards party: Restaurants that are owned my friends—Jean Georges, Daniel, Mario Batali, the usual suspects. And El Bulli in Barcelona. My favorite dish is anything that Mark Ladner makes at Del Posto. ● Bethenny Frankel at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: Trump Soho, Abe & Arthur’s, STK. ● Johnny Weir at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: Cipriani Downtown has the most amazing vanilla meringue cake. ● Tinsley Mortimer at her handbag launch party at Samantha Thavasa: Avenue and the Biergarten at the StandardBryan Greenberg at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: The corn, the tacos, and the margaritas at La Esquina. ● Danielle Staub at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: Cafeteria for the little sliders, the mac and cheese. For dessert, their Everything But the Kitchen Sink. ● Lamar Odom at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. ● Mick Rock at the Marc Ecko Cut & Sew fall collection launch party: Kenmare. ● Richie Rich at the Marc Ecko Cut & Sew fall collection launch party: At the The Lion, the champagne’s my favorite. I like the atmosphere and the food’s amazing. The energy’s amazing at the Boom Room Room.