Jitney, Schmitney: Hit Hamptons Mondays at 21 For An East End Experience on West 52nd

Ah, the Hamptons. Such glamor, such style, such a pain in the neck to get there. Don’t you wish you could have the same experience without actually leaving the city? The jacketed gents of the 21 Club totally feel you, and they’re making it easy to embrace those East End vibes without leaving West 52nd Street. Beginning July 29, the former speakeasy will host Hamptons Mondays, a new wine tasting series that brings the best wines of Long Island to your cozy little table at its Bar 21. 

Over the course of three Monday evenings, wines from noted vintners Bedell Cellars, Onabay Vineyards, and Pellegrini Vineyards will be paired with tasty bites from executive chef John Greeley, including lobster tacos, tuna tartare cones, barbecued shrimp, duck confit, and pepper-crusted ahi tuna. Hamptons-ey enough for you? If you’re totally blown away by these wines, reps from the various vineyards will be on hand to tell you all about them, and probably invite you out to see their grapevines and barrels and whatnot. 

Worried about that infamous 21 Club dress code? Don’t be. Given the breezy nature of these events, they’ve relaxed the rules so you can stroll on in barefoot and shirtless wearing a "summer chic" outfit that that’s both comfy and fashionable. Probably more of the latter, actually. 

A seat at Hamptons Mondays is cheaper that I expected. A mere 45 clams per person gets you wine, food, tax, and gratuity. Unless they’re super stingy on the pours and bites, that’s a pretty low price to get you into what’s long been one of the most exclusive haunts in the city. For reservations, call 212-582-7200.

[BlackBook New York Guide; BlackBook Hamptons Guide; Listing for 21 Club; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

Rock ‘n’ Roll Chef Chris Santos Creates Jägermeister-Infused Menu

Most U.S.-based Jägermeister drinkers know it only as a chilled shot, a sweet, potent party-starter that’s easy to drink and is often associated with rock ‘n’ roll. In fact, this isn’t an ad, so let’s not mince words: Jäger’s about getting drunk, fast. Why else do you think so many bars have special Jäger-shot machines? Do your own research and ask the next person you see what their experiences with Jäger have been like. Chances are they involve a pretty wild party.

For its part, of course, Jäger doesn’t condone binge drinking, stating unequivocally that it "encourages responsible decision-making regarding the consumption of alcohol and discourages abusive consumption." That said, Jäger didn’t become the seventh largest selling premium spirit in the world from tweed-jacketed men sipping it out of brandy snifters in the study of some manor house. So it pretty much owns the woo-hoo! market, presenting it with a conundrum about how to grow further in an increasingly crowded field (Patrón shot, anyone?). Here’s what they came up with: using Jäger as a cooking ingredient to highlight its versatility. I recently tried a few Jäger-infused dishes at Stanton Social, courtesy of chef Chris Santos, and they tasted, well, woo-hoo!

Here’s why these recipes work: Regardless of the fact that Jägermeister is a favorite of fist-bumping bros and tanning-salon Traceys from LA to London, it’s actually quite a sophisticated spirit, with a history going back to 1934 Germany, when hunting enthusiast Kurt Mast first blended 56 different herbs, blossoms, roots and fruits into a bittersweet liqueur perfect for staying warm while tracking a herd of elk in the Alps. The next time you’re handed a Jäger shot, take your time and savor its complexity. There’s a lot going on in the glass. 

That means there’s a lot going on in the recipes that feature Jäger as a component. I tried three different Santos-Jäger creations at Stanton Social (Santos also has the popular Beauty & Essex), each playing off a different component of the spirit.

The first, Jägermeister-kissed Chicken Skewers, really bring out the citrus notes, with a perfect mix of juiciness and crispness and a zingy flavor that penetrates the meat, thanks to its two-hour brining process and 24-hour marinade. It’s a perfect app for one-handed eating, saving the other for your shot glass. (Scroll down.)

Jager Burger

The second dish was the Ultimate Charred Jägermeister Burger, a take on the classic burger. It uses Jägermeister in the burger blend, along with Worcestershire. It was tender, smooth, and very tasty. Santos served some onion rings on the side that featured no Jägermeister whatsoever, and were still good. 

Santos must have been going from mild to wild in his presentation, because the third dish was the most decadent and delicious of them all: Black Cherry and Jägermeister Baby Back Ribs. With the ribs, Jägermeister makes an appearance in a sauce that also contains barbecue, mint, orange, and black cherry cola. I loved it, though I do have a penchant for barbecue.

The thing that makes Jägermeister fit so well in all these recipes is the same thing that makes it work in cocktails: its complexity and harmonious balance of flavors. Rather than just some dumb marinade that you slather on meat with a paintbrush, the Jägermeister brings out the best qualities of the base ingredients it’s used with, giving them a liveliness that adds depth to the food and makes it more fun to eat. 

This is partly because Santos is a great chef, whose success in New York is now leading him to open a new restaurant in Las Vegas. Perhaps you’re a great chef too. If so, you may wish to enter a recipe into the Charred: Earn Your Place at the Pit barbecue contest that Santos is judging. Take a look at the recipes he created, try them out yourself, and then put your own spin on the cooking-with-Jägermeister idea. 

Santos is also a cool guy to hang out and chat with, and we discussed everything from his heavy metal DJ sessions at a Brooklyn dive bar to the graceful aging of a rock ‘n’ roller, which involves ditching the cheap ripped jeans and ragged sneakers for, well, pricier, more stylish John Varvatos versions of the same things. Growing up doesn’t mean abandoning who you are. 

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for Stanton Social, Beauty & Essex; Jägermeister official site and recipes; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

Donald Trump Buys Portrait Of Himself By Artist William Quigley at Hamptons Auction

Remember when we told you about an upcoming art show in East Hampton called The Pleasurists that was going to feature works by renowned artists William Quigley and Ben Moon, as well as an auction of such paintings as Quigley’s avant-garde portrait of Donald Trump (pictured)? Well, it’s no longer upcoming, it happened last Friday, and it was a wilder experience than anyone anticipated–even those who were aware that comedian Andy Dick would be running the auction.

There was great art galore, of course–Quigley first stepped into the spotlight in 1985 when he showed with Andy Warhol and has gained steam ever since, while Moon’s multimedia mastery extends to immersive, interactive experiences like ROKLYFE, which he performed to the delight of a sweaty, nice-looking crowd that boogied and bid into the night to benefit Guild Hall Center for the Visual and Performing Arts (I like using the full name). Having Russian Standard Vodka–one of my favorites for a proper New York vodka martini–as a sponsor may or may not have helped things along. 

And guess what happened? Donald Trump himself purchased his portrait. Well, in his high-tech, I-nod-and-it-is-done way, he was sending texts to uber-art collector Stewart Rahr to snag it on his behalf. The price: upward of $100,000, which goes a long way to supporting all the great cultural activities of Guild Hall. Seriously, you need art, music, and theater in your life. Places like Guild Hall have it. Take advantage.  

At the show, Quigley milled around sporting a t-shirt that said "Bullshit Bullshit Namedrop Bullshit," which is now my new guiding philosophy, while women wearing low-cut summer dresses and guys wearing whatever-who-cares-what-guys-wear bounced to the beat, celebrating summer, art, and life.

At first I was somewhat curious about why Trump would buy the painting. Did he pick it up because he didn’t like it, and he wanted to get it off the market so some ironic doofus can’t display it in his living room? No, after looking at it I think Trump genuinely likes it.  I do–it’s no Thomas Nast caricature, it’s a penetrating gaze into the eyes of a fascinating man. I wish I could have a Quigley rendering of my coupon some day. Ah well, he tends to do celebs like Shaq. Better work on my points in the paint. (I hear Quigley has an Ethan Hawke and a Mick Jagger hiding too.) 

Mark Borghi of Mark Borghi Fine Art, who represents Quigley, was also there, helping draw a batallion of Very Serious Art Collectors, along with three silly ones. There were a bunch of celebrities there too. Should I name them? Bullshit Bullshit Namedrop Bullshit. 

[Related: BlackBook Hamptons Guide; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter

Fine Art, Beer Flights, and Farm Food in Roanoke, Virginia

It was July 4 weekend and I craved a proper American road trip. Mercedes-Benz gave me the use of a 2013 ML550 SUV–the ultimate road trip machine–and my wife, Jenn, and I decided to take a scenic drive to test it out properly. And so we left New York in the rear-view mirror and pointed the GPS to Roanoke, Virginia. 

Why Roanoke?

"Why Roanoke?" was a question we’d hear frequently during our trip, particularly from people in Roanoke after they found out we’d driven there from New York, and that we weren’t on our way to somewhere else. "What are you doing here?" they’d say. Having fun, man. Lots of fun. We’d heard good things about Roanoke’s pretty location in the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as its great museums, innovative restaurants, and delicious beer. What else does anybody need? Also, it used to be called Big Lick, because there was a big outcropping of salt nearby that used to draw animals. 

Roanoke Car

Chill Car

The word for the ML550 is chill. Chill, as in the wonderful chill of an air conditioner that welcomes you with a blast of cold on a sweltering 97-degree day in Brooklyn. Chill like the relaxing, well-appointed interior, with leather seats, intuitive controls, and an all-around firmness that silences outside noise with a satisfying slam of the door. Chill like the Chill channel on Sirius-XM radio, which was playing when I first climbed into the drivers seat, pumping out that laidback, downtempo techno reminiscent of Washington, D.C.’s Thievery Corporation, Cafe del Mar in Ibiza, and the Fendi Casa at Biras Creek on Virgin Gorda. Rich people techno. High design music. 

It drives chill too, smooth as silk for an SUV that can handle all manner of off-road scenarios, with nice directions from the woman inside the navigation system, who not only guided us to our destinations, but alerted me to traffic jams and suggested alternate routes. Oh yeah: the powered seat that helped me stay comfy in stop-and-go traffic: super chill. The remote-operated lift gate door that both opened and closed with a touch of the key fob: chilly chill. 

I can’t really use the word chill for the car’s handling, though. It was quick, agile, and responsive. It zoomed up highway on-ramps without a problem, and the brakes grabbed quickly when someone stopped short in front of me. When we noticed the driver of a Toyota next to us writing out a shopping list with a pen and paper while cruising at 75 mph on the New Jersey Turnpike and drifting dangerously toward us–yes this really happened–that beautiful Mercedes got us the hell out of the way, fast. I loved the car, and can’t imagine a nicer SUV. What else could you add, besides gold and diamonds?

Chill Hotel Room

Okay, the other reason we went to Roanoke is because I had some Starpoints on my SPG American Express Card that I wanted to cash in for a hotel room. So I searched for Starwood hotels in Virginia, came upon the Sheraton Roanoke, and made a phone call.  The drive to Roanoke was great: sunny, clear, and marked by Civil War battlefields, farms, and cows. At 4pm we cheerfully checked into our room on the club floor of the Sheraton Roanoke. The A/C was cranked up pretty high–it was a sweltering weekend–and all the furnishings were in mellow earth tones–a perfect spot to chill out. We needed it.

I turned on the TV and the surprisingly-good-for-being-a-nonstop-commercial Starwood Preferred Guest channel greeted us with information about golf outings in Scotland, desert treks in the Middle East, and chef tours with Jose Andres. And it had that music: more of that chilled-out, downbeat techno that all the cool rich people seem to listen to when they wear sunglasses and don’t smile. I love rock ‘n’ roll, but there’s nothing like the chill channel when you’re trying to beat the heat. 

And so we began our mini-vacation. 

The Hotel

The Sheraton Roanoke is clean, efficient, and well-appointed. It’s not the coolest hotel in the Starwood portfolio (look to the W brand for that), but it’s not entirely dorky either. We popped into Shula’s restaurant for appetizers and drinks, and were impressed by the beer menu. Starwood hotels seem to understand the importance of good beer to travelers like us. We ordered Dominion Oak Barrel Stout, which is rated 99 by the brothers of Beer Advocate.

Roanoke Jack Browne's

The Town

We weren’t sure what to make of Roanoke at first. Downtown seemed kind of dead for the 4th of July, and lots of places were closed, but we parked the car and walked around and found ourselves bending elbows in Jack Browne’s Beer & Burger Joint and watching Joey Chestnut crush the competition at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest back in New York. (He downed 69 dogs.) We drank weird beers (Fraoch Heather Ale, among others) and ate a well-made burger with sweet potato fries. The place was tight, the music was pumping, the crowd was laid back, friendly, and cool, and we made ourselves comfortable for a while. It’s the kind of place where the decor consists mostly of license plates, bumper stickers, and bras, and we liked it.

We could see fireworks on our drive back to the hotel (I was sober) and caught the rest of them from our balcony. 

The Star

Friday morning we drove up Mill Mountain to The Star, the largest freestanding illuminated man-made star in the world. The Roanoke Star is one of the city’s claims to fame, and it’s fun and easy to visit. There are nature trails and picnic tables and two viewing platforms. The view of the city and its surrounding mountains is impressive. It’s a good place to appreciate those lower, older east coast mountains, if you’re used to jagged western peaks. Yes, our mountains are shorter, but they have wisdom.

The Flight

The Flight

After a grueling quarter-mile hike, we had a flight of beers and some salads at Fork in the Market in town, which was exactly what we were hoping for. Friendly waitress, good food, great beer, and awesome air conditioning. I wrote down the names of the beers we sampled: Starr Hill The Love, Breckenridge Avalanche, Breckenridge Summer Bright, and Devil’s BackBone Vienna Lager. When you have an opportunity to order a flight of beers, you should always do it. Everything should come in flight form. 

Roanoke Taubman

The Culture

Culturally, Roanoke rocks. There are a bunch of museums in town, with many exhibits dedicated to the railroad industry, since locomotives and rail cars were once built here. It was a visit to the Taubman Museum of Art, though, that made me realize that Roanoke punches well above its weight in culture. The Taubman occupies a $66 million building that looks like the Guggenheim Bilbao, which makes sense because its architect, Randall Stout, worked for Frank. O. Gehry and Associates. So it’s a really funky-looking place, and it’s filled with world class art.

Its focus is on American art, particularly artists from Western Virginia and the Appalachian region, and has works by Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer on display. Even the most critical art snob will love it. It felt like we were visiting the MoMA, but with far fewer people bumping into us. And admission is free, courtesy of Advance Auto Parts (everything in Roanoke is sponsored by somebody). If you want to drop some money in one of the donation boxes, use the one near the entrance so the staff can appreciate your benevolence and you can bask in their admiring glow. 

The Market

We bought some granola cookies from a dude at the outdoor farmers market. We don’t know if he was actually a farmer, but the cookies were good.

Roanoke Market and Museum

The Center

We went to Center in the Square, a multi-use cultural center in the middle of town, complete with theater, museums, and aquarium. A docent there asked us where we were from, and what we were doing there. We chatted for a while, and he told us to go up to the roof, so we did. The roof was awesome, with benches, a garden, a koi pond with a waterfall, and 360-degree views of the mountains, railroad, town, and massive Wells Fargo building. If it was in New York it would be a $15 million roof. Nicely done, Roanoke roof renovators.

The Pool

That afternoon I kicked around in the hotel swimming pool as Jenn sat in the sun and read Time Out New York‘s Chinatown issue. There were lots of kids in the pool. I made sure to shower before dinner.

Roanoke Local Roots

SOLE Food

We didn’t eat at every restaurant in town, but I’m still confident in saying Local Roots is one of the best. It serves S.O.L.E. food: Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical, and it’s big on the farm-to-table concept. It was so good that I’m surprised some New York Times reporter hasn’t already swooped in and made it the next big thing, like the Catbird Seat in Nashville. The atmosphere at Local Roots is rustic and nice, with lots of wood and plenty of local art, but the food’s just amazing. Jenn and I agreed that you could really taste the farm freshness, especially in the chilled pea soup I ordered. The peas just popped, like POW, in my mouth. The "textures of beats" appetizer was sublime, and looked nothing like we expected–it was stacked like a Big Mac. For mains, Jenn ordered farm-raised Virginia Pompano, while I got the Samnana Farm St. Croix Lamb Pasta. And so, road tripping foodies from New York and beyond, set your GPS for 1314 Grandin Rd. SW, Roanoke. You’ll totally dig it. Great beers too. 

The Lowdown

We had a great time in Roanoke, and while it’s probably not on every New Yorker’s road trip fantasy list, it should be. It’s easy to get to, and there are plenty of cushy amenities for those who can’t live without high-threadcount sheets and good coffee. It would be worth it just for the trifecta of Jack Browne’s, the Taubman Museum, and Local Roots. But even just for wandering, the downtown area has a great mix of historical and modern, and the people are awfully friendly.  If I didn’t have to return the car we might have stayed longer, but it’s healthy to push away from the table while you’re still a little hungry. We’ll be back again someday, Roanoke.

[More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter

Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi Adds Underwater Sculpture Garden, Because It Can

Maybe it’s not true, but it certainly feels like the seven principalities that comprise the United Arab Emirates are just about the wealthiest places on the planet. All the news that reaches me seems to involve them building the tallest building, the most high-tech office park, or the biggest indoor ski resort. The latest gee-whiz accomplishment comes our way from Abu Dhabi, where the Emirates Palace Hotel just built an underwater sculpture park, so its guests could have something cool to look at while they snorkel besides stupid old fish. Check out some of the different figures they dropped into the ocean for your amusement. 

There’s the beautiful mermaid (at top), whose aquiline nose seems pointed toward the object of her affection. 

Underwater Elephant Abu Dhabi

There’s this elephant, who doesn’t seem to know exactly what he’s doing there. 

Abu Dhabi Underwater Horse

This horse and rider seem focused on some important mission. 

Underwater Giraffes

While this quartet of giraffes seems alternately interested in grazing for seaweed and getting a breath of air, which is always just out of reach. 

[Emirates Palace official site; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

Vodka Visions: Absolut Commissions Artists to Transform Williamsburg

At first, the idea of brands underwriting artists to create large-scale works seems kind of wrong. After all, aren’t artists supposed to be totally independent, free to do their own weird things without the crass interference of money? But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. After all, artists have relied on patrons and benefactors for centuries. And instead of some stuffy duke or prissy countess doing the bankrolling, these days it’s cool companies like Absolut that produce cool products I enjoy, like vodka. And so my existential crisis about covering Absolut Vodka’s artistic takeover of one block of North Sixth Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn–arguably the hippest block on the planet at the moment–lasted all of 7 seconds before I decided that the project–they’re calling it the "Open Canvas Initiative"– was cool, and I’m glad it happened. After all, how else can you get some of the most interesting artists working today to get together and create a wide-scale art free-for-all that anybody can enjoy? Best of all, they were left to do their own things, without a corporate logo in sight. 

And so on June 22, "Transformation Day," Absolut took over N. 6th between Wythe and Kent and let a bunch of artists go nuts, and funky things happened.

Things like Dev Harlan‘s "Parmenides 1" (main image), a large, multi-surfaced, semi-spherical sculpture with loops and lines and shades of black, pink, and blue that suggest to me the idea of infinity–and kind of make me want a martini, because I associate the purity of vodka with outer space. 

All We Need

Things like an 80-foot-long crocheted yarn fence by artist OLEK called "Forgotten Barrier" (above), which espouses the very reasonable message: "All we need is love and money." Seriously, love’s great, but so is a nice apartment to keep that love warm and dry. 

Rostarr

And things like Rostarr‘s "Magnus Solo (The Big Surge)," which recall the calligraphy-based art of Retna, and seems to contain a message that gets more profound the more you try to interpret it. Best to stand back a bit. 

There were other great artists involved too, watch the video above and peruse the microsite they created to see them all. If you’re really into it, get your art-loving self to San Francisco this August to catch the next installment.

In the meantime, you can make some mixological art of your own with the following recipe for the Absolut Open Canvas Cocktail, which sounds pretty good, despite its pinkness. It’s vodka, lemon, Pom, and club soda. It looks refreshing, delicious, and downright inspiring, and I wish I had one in front of me right now. I’m convinced I could accomplish great things. 

Open Canvas Cocktail

[Absolut Open Canvas Official Site; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

Everything Now Sold Everywhere: Duane Reade’s New Growler-Filling Stations

As I left the bar last night I remembered that I had to pick up some razors and toilet paper, so I popped into the Duane Reade on 14th Street by Union Square, a new-ish shop occupying part of the space that was once a Virgin megastore. I’ve long known that the ubiquitous New York drugstore chain was adding all sorts of items, from fresh produce to ready-made sandwiches, in a bid to get people to shop there and nowhere else, but I wasn’t prepared for this: Duane Reade now has a well-stocked growler-filling station.

I’ve been a fan of growlers (refillable beer containers) for years, because everything about them is good: You get fresh draft beer–the best kind of beer–to enjoy at home, it costs way less than it would at a bar, and you’re saving the environment by using your own container and creating no waste. But something about growlers always seemed a bit too folksy for a chain like Duane Reade, where everything is shrink-wrapped and safety-sealed. Add three X’s on the side and your growler looks like something a barefoot hillbilly would drink moonshine out of.  But with "Brew York City," Duane Reade is going for it, and that’s good for beer enthusiasts such as myself, and bad for small specialty beer stores. 

I didn’t have a growler with me, plus I had three Guinness and a Jameson in my belly, so I didn’t partake, but I did take a good look at Duane Reade’s growler setup. It’s impressive. They’ve got a wall of growlers you can purchase if you don’t already own one–like the amazing ceramic growler Kaufmann Mercantile sells–for just $3.99. (At my local growlery they cost five bucks apiece.) And Duane Reade has no fewer than nine beers on tap, which is more than some bars have. The selection is impressive, if somewhat mainstream, with beers from such noted breweries as Bear Republic, Captain Lawrence, Founders, the Brooklyn Brewery, and Sixpoint. Best of all, they’ve got the cheapest growler prices I’ve ever seen, with all of them coming in at under ten bucks. 

Grok this: In New York these days, almost every decent beer costs at least $12 a six-pack, with some downtown bodegas charging up to $15. A growler holds 64 ounces of beer, which is just 10 ounces shy of a sixer, and the beer is better simply by virtue of coming from a keg. Assuming that Duane Reade has a rigorous policy of keeping their tap-lines clean, a $7.99 growler fill is an unbelievable bargain. I usually pay in a range of $12 to $16. So, awesome beer, cheap, and available right where you are. If you really love good beer, that’s hard to resist. 

So, the downside? Mom and pop beer shops are in trouble, because a Walmart equivalent has entered the market. They’ve got scale, pricing power, and ubiquitousness. No, they don’t have much soul, but for a five-dollar price difference for the same product, most people will deal with it. For the time being, little shops like The Ploughman will maintain a slight edge among purists by having edgier brews (Duane Reade sells Shock Top). For many people, though, Duane Reade will be their introduction to the growler world, and they’re going to like it.

Despite my own aversion to chain stores and love for small business, I will be bringing at least one of my two growlers to work with me on Friday, to fill up with fresh draft beer before heading to Brooklyn for the weekend. Price, convenience, quality. It matters to me, and Duane Reade is doing it well. It’s too good to ignore, or stand on some indie-beer principle. Sometimes I just want a cold one, and boy do they have it. 

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Hey Beer World: Stop Worrying and Embrace the Growler Already; Wine Kegs, Growlers, and Plorks: Let’s Hear It for the Evolution of Booze Containers; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter

Bid On a Funky Painting of Donald Trump in East Hampton This Friday

Do whatever it takes–Uber a chopper if you must–to get to William Quigley’s studio in East Hampton by 8pm on Friday, July 12. That’s the official start time for "The Pleasurists," an art show featuring, well, art, obviously, as well as vodka, music, and a live auction to benefit Guild Hall. In case I didn’t have you at vodka, the unique selling point of this event is the chance to acquire a couple of extremely unique pieces of art, including avant-garde portraits of Donald Trump and Ethan Hawke. Just imagine how great it would be to have The Donald on one wall of your home, contemplating firing your lazy ass 24/7, and Mr. Before Midnight on another, beckoning you with those bedroom eyes? It’s the ultimate yin and yang, complementary forces in contemporary pop culture.

Your hosts for this eclectic event are artists William Quigley, who had his first exhibit with Andy Warhol back in 1985 and has since risen to international renown, and Ben Moon, a multimedia master who uses projected visuals, interactive social media, and live and recorded music to bring you into "the world of Ben Moon."

Paintings by both artists will be on display, and there will be a performance of Moon’s interactive piece ROKLYFE, which, from the look of it, should be extra fun after getting acquainted with sponsor Russian Standard Vodka’s contribution to the evening. In a further blow to boxed-chardonnay’s stranglehold on the art gallery market, the other sponsors include Rolling Rock beer and Smokin’ Wolf Barbecue. You won’t even miss those little cubes of cheese. 

If that’s not wild enough for you, the live auction will be conducted by comedian Andy Dick. Good luck with that one, guys. Seriously. 

To RSVP, send a funny email to thepleasurists@rubensteinpr.com and get your bidding paddles ready, because this could end up being the Hamptons art event of the summer, or at least a very wild party. 

[Related: BlackBook Hamptons Guide; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

It’s Your Beer and You Can Do Anything You Want With It

It was a Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn, and it was hot. Super hot. Equatorial Guinea hot. So hot that the flowers I had on the balcony got fried, even though I had just watered them. I wanted a light, refreshing beer to help me keep cool while I cruised into the evening, but all we had hiding in the back of the fridge were a handful of bottles of Troegs Mad Elf Ale from some cheeful holiday party two seasons ago. Mad Elf is a fine brew, but it’s a Belgian-style strong dark ale made with cherries, honey, and chocolate malts–hardly a summertime sipper. What to do? I pulled a Spiegelau IPA glass from the freezer, filled it halfway with Mad Elf, and topped it off with ice-cold seltzer water fresh from my SodaStream Penguin. It was absolutely delicious, transforming the brew from a heavy winter ale designed to "warm your heart" to a lightly spiced, extremely refreshing session beer that reminded somewhat of an English shandy. It was at that moment that I asked myself, why haven’t I ever done this before? 

I’ve been on this session beer kick for a while. It’s kind of a personal backlash against the trend toward higher-alcohol beers. Session beers are low-alcohol beers that you "session," which, to me, means that rather than counting how many beers you’ve had, you simply count how long you’ve been drinking. But I haven’t had much luck finding good session beers in my neighborhood. Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head told me once that consumers put a big premium on the alcohol content of beers, so session brews aren’t the moneymakers that IPA beers are.

So, there aren’t a lot of session beers out there, but nothing was stopping me from making my own. And far from ruining it, the seltzer made the Mad Elf better, dialing down the winter spices and opening up a bouquet of mildly sweet, almost tropical flavors. It switched from a winter beer to a summer beer just like that. 

Purists might cringe, but I reckon there are all kinds of beers that might benefit from the addition of some seltzer, or a couple of ice cubes, or a splash of lemonade, or ginger ale, or Aperol, or whatever you feel like trying. Yes, we all know the old joke about how American beer is like sex in a canoe. It no longer holds true, of course, since American craft beer is the best in the world these days, but all the same, sometimes I do actually want a beer that’s fucking close to water. I want refreshment, hydration, a little bit of flavor, and, not exactly a bite per se, but enough alcohol to ever-so-slowly make me relaxed and happy on a scorching afternoon in Brooklyn. 

The point is, it’s your beer, you bought it, and you can do anything you want to it. Experiment. Drink. Be cool. 

[Related: Spiegelau Creates New IPA Beer Glass, Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada Create New Beer to Fill It With; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]