Jon Glaser Raises a Few Glasses to Toast St. Patrick’s Day

Perhaps regular old acting was just too easy for Jon Glaser. How else to explain his choice to perform in his sitcom entirely while wearing a black balaclava and using a vocal pitch shifter to disguise his voice? Yet, despite these Harrison Bergeron–style impediments—or perhaps because of them—his performance as a flawed family man who doesn’t let being in witness protection keep him from starring in a reality show is truly inspired.

Delocated, which recently began its third season on Adult Swim, follows “Jon” as he tries to make a life in New York while avoiding getting rubbed out by the Russian mafia for testifying against them. In the process, his wife walks out on him, leaving him foundering in a world of awkward moments with his bodyguard, the sudden death of Paul Rudd, and a small business called the Rage Cage. It’s weird late-night TV at its finest, and Glaser, a comedy world veteran who was on the writing staff of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, seems perfectly suited to the role, which draws inspiration from countless sources.

"There are a lot of elements of my dad in that character,” Glaser says as he settles into a booth at Lilium, a sleek new bar beneath New York’s W Union Square hotel adorned with sculptural black steel lilies and a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack. “He came to visit the set last spring while I was in character, and I could see the resemblance.” We’re here to sample a series of cocktails that embrace the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day while elevating it beyond green beer and Irish car bombs, hoping to add a touch of class to a holiday often associated with debauchery and loutish behavior. Our bartender this evening is Michelle Romano, a fetching, raven-haired lass with a mastery of flavor, balance, and presentation and the admirable ability to suffer fools gladly. Throughout the course of the night, we sample seven sublime cocktails that capture the essence of the holiday while encouraging us to stay on our best behavior—sort of.

 

Grassy Kroll

Muddle 3 pieces of fresh ginger and 5 stalks of lemongrass in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and 2 oz Żubrówka bison grass vodka, .5 oz simple syrup, and .5 oz fresh lemon juice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a stalk of lemongrass.

"It’s very good; clean and not too tart, like a mojito but lighter. I’m going to have to make an effort to not drink it all. It’s a bookend drink—it could work at the beginning or the end of the night. A strong start.”

Jameson & Ginger All Grown Up

Muddle 5 pieces of fresh ginger in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and 1.5 oz Jameson Gold Irish Whiskey. Shake and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with skewered ginger.

"It’s smooth. The ginger really complements the whiskey. It seems impressive, the kind of drink some young Wall Street dude who flirts with the bartender would order. ‘Gimme a Jameson Gold and ginger beer, babe!’”

Red Breasted Lady

Combine 2 oz Redbreast 12 Year Old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, .5 oz pure maple syrup, and .75 oz fresh lemon juice in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.

"I’m surprised I like it as much as I do, but the maple syrup and lemon blend really well. It’s a good combination of flavors and very easy to drink. This seems like it should be the official drink of the band Hot Hot Heat.”

The Whiskey

Combine 2 oz Bushmills Irish Whiskey, .5 oz antica liqueur, .5 oz Cherry Heering, and 2 dashes bitters in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into an absinthe-washed rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Rub the rim and garnish with a freshly peeled orange twist.

“This is delicious. I love the deep red color. It’s so well mixed—this Michelle is a great bartender. It reminds me of the kind of drink my grandfather on my mom’s side, Sol Stein, would drink. He drove an orange Stingray convertible. This drink says ‘This is who I am!’ In the future, cocktails are going to have little legs, and if you don’t like them they’ll walk back to the bar and kill themselves.”

Blond Manhattan

Combine 1.75 oz Original Moonshine Clear Corn Whiskey, .5 oz Cointreau, .75 oz antica liqueur, and 3 dashes orange bitters in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Rub the rim and garnish with a freshly peeled lemon twist.

“This is tasty, and it’s also the strongest drink we’ve had. With every sip it becomes more delicious. Michelle clearly rubbed the rim on this one. I’d imagine some character named Cool Joe, who wears a brown turtleneck and a mustard yellow cardigan, would drink this drink. He doesn’t even like it that much, he just thinks it’s going to make him look good.”

Irish Iced Coffee Martini

Combine 2 oz Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey, 1 oz fresh-brewed espresso, and 1 oz simple syrup in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with 3 coffee beans.

“This is a nightcap to get you to your daycap. The coffee taste is just too strong for me right now. It reminds me of the time I forced myself to drink Stroh’s in an attic. Some post-frat/sorority couple drinks this in Aspen on a ski trip after they had anal sex for the first time and they’re trying to work out their relationship. This might have messed things up for them.”

Kilbeggan 18 Year Old Irish Whiskey

Serve neat in whiskey tumbler.

“It’s smooth, soft, and fluffy, like drinking a glass of kittens. There’s a good balance between the throat burn and the satisfaction. With every sip it feels like you’re conquering fear, and then you look forward and see the blue sky. I imagine that this whiskey is made in some distillery built into the cliffs of Kilbeggan, where there’s an 89–degree drop, and the only way you can get there is by rappelling—or you can take these egg elevators like they have in the St. Louis arch.”

[Related Story: A Collection of Sublime Irish Whiskeys For Your St. Patrick’s Weekend Enjoyment]

Pop-Ups: Fashion Week Escapes

Ankles aching from those Acnes? Mind reeling from all the small talk? Eyes bleeding from all those looks? Instead of waiting for nightfall to indulge in free, mind-erasing booze, find peace and diversion from all of your self-inflicted (and trendy) agony at some of these temporary pop-ups, meant to cure the neuroses of the fashionable masses during New York Fashion Week.

image Get Sketched at W Union Square The DL: The W Hotel is kicking off the season with in-residence fashion illustrators from Parsons The New School For Design in the Living Room of W Union Square. The artists will be sketching fashionable folk and locals looking for a quick retreat—and treat: those sketched will be able to keep their piece of art. When: February 9th – February 17th, 1:30PM-6:30PM Location: The Living Room at the W Union Square

image Park Here: Pop-Up Park The DL: This retreat is for everyone sick of the oil-slicked slush covering every curb. Enjoy a bit of indoor springtime with an artificial indoor park brought to Manhattanites by Openhouse Gallery. I visited on a recent night when Urban Daddy and Nobu hosted an indoor movie screening of Kung Fu Panda, but anyone can go daily for just a buck. Bring your own picnic, or pick out lunch from the gourmet food carts. When: Open daily from 11AM-6PM until February 13th Location: 201 Mulberry Street

image Lia Sophia Suite Retreat The DL: Jewelry line, lia sophia, will be hosting a lounge suite for weary fashion folks stomping around Lincoln Center. lia sophia co-owner and Creative Director Elena Kiam and Nylon’s Dani Stahl will host the lounge, offering up a space for people “to recharge their body and electronic devices” and get their makeup touched-up by the Bobbi Brown cosmetics team. Also on hand: booze. When: February 13th—15th, 10AM—7PM Location: The Empire Hotel, 9th Floor, Suite 924

Industry Insiders: Lulzim Rexhepi, Craftsmanship at Kittichai

Lulzim Rexhepi spent time in some of the world’s top kitchens before taking over for Executive Chef Ian Chalmerkittichai at 60 Thompson’s Kittichai . From the Mandarin Oriental in Switzerland and the Blue Water Grill to the Four Seasons Hotel and Icon at the W Hotel and Xing, Chef “Lou” has endured every type of culinary experience to help him keep Kittichai’s flavor booming.

Typical day: I come in, I check my email, I go over manager’s log, and go through Grub Street to see what’s happening in the restaurant world. I walk through the kitchen. First I stop by the butcher station to make sure everything came in properly. I’ll walk through where the cooks are cooking and make sure everyone is using the right product at the right time, make sure everything is fresh. Then I get ready for service.

Favorite kitchen: Working at Icon with Chef Paul Sale. I was on the cusp of being a sous-chef and he really showed me how to take it to the next level. He taught me so many important lessons about cooking. The people I worked with before that were really mean, non-stop-yelling chefs, and he was very laid back, very cool, and we still got the same amount of production. He just taught me a whole different style in the kitchen. It doesn’t need to be that old-school mentality. It can still be an amazing kitchen.

On getting along with the old boss: Chef Ian and I have a great relationship. We still email. He’s mostly in Thailand. He pretty much lets me do the menu the way I want. The only difference is that I have to take a step back and tweak my own mistakes. Whereas before I had him to ask, “What do you think of this?” That’s really the only difference. Of the ten ideas I get in a day, maybe three of them are like “wow” if I’m lucky. So I definitely need the back and forth with him.

Go-to menu items: My favorite drink is the Muddled Grape with coconut water and grapes. It’s really refreshing, really nice. I absolutely love the Whole Fish. We dust it in rice flour, lightly fry it and we serve it with a lesser-ginger curry. It has an earthy flavor and a nice spice. It takes curry to a slightly higher level. I also just put a lobster dish on the menu that I love. It’s cooked three different ways and we serve it just like that with a little suki-yaki sauce, which is a Thai fondue sauce.

On being in a Thai kitchen: Kittichai is the first Thai restaurant I ever worked in. When the Tsunami thing happened, I went to Thailand with Ian to do a fundraiser at the Four Seasons, and I wound up staying for a long time, trying street food and exploring. I get along well with my peers, though. I come from a modest background. When they come in the room I’m no longer the chef, I look at them eye to eye, call them “chef.” My parents did a really good job of teaching me, and I’ll be a culinary student until the day I die.

On getting a tough table: Give a hundred bucks to the manager. I’m joking. Because I’m never sure when I’m going to be off, I hardly ever make reservations and I don’t go to places and say, “Oh I’m the chef at Kittichai, give me a table.” I’m very polite, and if I have to wait a half hour at a place I want to eat, I do it. When a host has 80 people waiting for tables, if you walk in and you’re demanding, you’re not getting a table. It never hurts to compliment what the host is wearing.

Go-to joints: I like Macao. I like the bar chef there as far as drinks go. I go up to Thom Bar and have a cocktail with my buddies. I just had a great dinner at The Breslin and I think April Bloomfield is doing some cool stuff.

Guilty pleasure: I sneak behind pastry counter and eat these mekong whiskey chocolate truffles that we make. I can’t get enough. They’re ridiculous. I’ve got a lot of bad habits—I get worked up easy. When I’m in the kitchen, I’ll explode for a second, and then I’ll take a deep breath and get better.

Plumm Space Up for Grabs

imageAs the economy recovers and money becomes available, places that were long ago shuttered or recently deceased prepare for rebirth. Restaurants lay around like old chairs and sofas covered with white sheets like in an old horror flick. The biggest prize in my eyes is Plumm, that ripe spot on 14th Street with a ton of tradition. Nell Campbell had her infamous joint Nell’s there back in the day. It became famous for charging everybody — and I mean everybody — door admission. Cher refused, got turned away, and the little gimmick turned the place into a hit overnight. In later years, I would go and listen to jazz bands and eat good food before the mayhem of the dance halls. Noel Ashman took the joint over and called it NA. Some said it meant “Nell’s Again,” but most thought it was a tribute to his own dapper self. Noel eventually closed NA and transformed it into Plumm, with a gaggle of celebrity investors including Chris Noth, Damon Dash, Samantha Ronson, etc. Plumm proved to be a bitter fruit, never really catching on with a crowd that spent enough money to pay the rent.

Now the space is suddenly available, and investment entities are playing a game of musical chairs trying to snare it. The rub — or is it rubb? — is the rent. Noel was in at around $28,000, and the landlord was looking for $43,000. I hear now it’s at $38,000. That’s a high number in these times, and most of the smart guys have left it on the table. Still, there are a few groups looking. These operators, who I will name in the next few weeks, feel that they still have the bottle chops to make loot. The location on 14th Street just east of 8th Avenue has gotten a lot better, as the shift from West Chelsea and its 27th Street strip to the Meatpacking and the surrounding area has really stepped up. Still, Plumm or whatever it becomes is a real long block away from that action, making it too far to walk (especially in heels), but also uncomfortably close for a taxi ride. With a full kitchen, high ceilings, and cabaret downstairs, this place will be something soon. With its proximity to subways, a downtown location, and two floors, it’s ideal for servicing corporate parties if indeed the upturn brings them back. Noel told me that he still has the liquor license, and that should mean someone will need to deal with him, as a transfer from one group to another is easier than a new one.

The Tasting Room on Elizabeth Street folded rather quickly on the bones of quite a few other joints at the start of the recession. It’s easy to blame the economy, but eateries all around it have thrived throughout (although Rialto also failed and is now redecorated and renamed Elizabeth across the street). Still, it’s a half-hour wait at Habana and Gitane, and Le Colonial is always crowded. The blame for failure at Rialto and Tasting Room can be firmly placed on both places’ inability to embrace and cater to the hood. Now Jo’s opens, and the first thing out of management’s mouths is how they are going to be a neighborhood place.

I spoke with Jo’s owner Jim Chu. “I think the best way to describe what we’re doing here is to make something that is casual but professional, stylish, and laid back. Along with the rise of culinary culture in the U.S., there has been a really ugly sense that there is a limited number of people that get to hold the keys to what makes it and what doesn’t, or that you need to have three forks to make it a real meal, or that drinks need to be $14 to be good. Bullshit. It doesn’t matter how exclusive your plate of foodie-branded supper is, if it’s $49 and you can’t afford to eat it. We don’t subscribe to that, and we made a place we really love.”

Jim is joined by actor Johnny Santiago from Torch and Kevin Felker, who has had various roles from bartender to manager at such places as Pastis, Schiller’s, W Union Square, Tribeca and Soho Grand hotels, and Barmarche. He even spent time at Aureole making pastry because he “didn’t want to spend the money on cooking school.” With an eye on their bottom line and a recognition of the still-shallow pockets of their patrons, I think Jo’s is a model for success. The scene is rising from the carnage of the nuclear winter. My design firm is getting tons of inquiries from operators in similar situations, the banks are eking out money and groups ready and able but who have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for credit to become un-crunched, and everybody’s looking to fix up defunct spaces and bring new life and jobs back to the hoods.

Anthony Mackie on Playing Tupac & Hating Smelly Europeans

Somewhat surprisingly, biopic-happy Hollywood lacks a movie recounting the legendary but brief life of Tupac Shakur. The slain rapper is uncannily suited for the celluloid treatment, with his firebrand rapper-as-revolutionary persona, his frequent brushes with the law, and an early death that saw him ascend to both myth and martyr. If he ever does get his own movie (and he probably will), a good bet to play him might be Anthony Mackie, who portrayed the rapper in a play written by his Julliard classmate; Mackie’s donning the bandanna again in Notorious, a film about Tupac’s friend and foe, The Notorious B.I.G.. Mackie met up with me at the W Hotel in Union Square to discuss embodying Tupac for a second time, leftover street booty, and why pungent Eurotrash are ruining New York nightlife.

This is your second time playing Tupac. How did this differ from the first time? It was very different. Playing him on film is extremely different than doing it on stage. I wanted to show more of who he actually was to the people around him. Tupac at this time was fresh coming off of Juice, at the top of his game, and just living it up. And everything was just all good. This was way before the sex abuse case. I wanted to show how much joy went into making his music.

This movie tells Biggie’s story and clears him of any implication in the East Coast/West Coast rivalry; it portrays Tupac as responsible for igniting the tensions. Do you think a Tupac biopic would tell a different story? Of course. The great thing about this movie is that it’s called Notorious. It’s from the perspective of Biggie, so if you go talk to Suge Knight, if you talk to anybody on the West Coast, if you could talk to ‘Pac, the other perspective is completely different. I think a Tupac biopic would be a completely different movie.

Would you be interested in playing him in that? Of course.

Was your preparation for the role more trying to embody him, or did you try to imitate him? The thing that was so important was his demeanor, his ability to entrance people with his personality. I wanted to give that life, to give that fuel back to who he is. Because it was just his charisma that people bought into.

How do you think his mother would react to seeing this film? I think his mother would be very pleased. At the end of the day he’s an entertainer, so if this is what I’ve got to do to sell records, you know, if Britney Spears got to show her crotch, if Eva Longoria has to be with Tony Parker, if so and so has to make a sex tape with Ray J, that’s what I gotta do.

What about Biggie’s death? Do you have any theories on who was responsible? Both Biggie and Tupac’s deaths were very odd. They were both in very crowded places, in the public eye. They were both in convoys with their friends, and nobody saw anything, I found that to be very odd. Tupac being on the Vegas strip on fight night — I was on the Vegas strip for the De La Hoya fight, and literally it took me an hour to go two blocks. So you pull up next to him, shoot up his car, and speed away in a convoy, and nobody sees anything? There are more police on the Vegas strip than Fort Knox on a fight night.

How do you think the rap game would be different if they were still alive today? Half of these cats wouldn’t exist.

Like who? I ain’t saying no names. But I would say 95 percent of the rappers right now who are selling albums — all the cats who we go to the club and listen to their music, then we realize they’re fucking losers. All those dudes, the only reason they’re in the game is because Pac died. Because Pac came out and said, “Fuck yo momma, fuck yo sister, fuck yo kids,” you know what I mean? “My 44 make sure all your kids don’t grow! I’ma shoot your lady in her belly!” What?! And nobody said nothing! Pac said “Fuck you,” and everybody said “I’m sorry.” Today, somebody says “Fuck you,” and everybody got beef. It’s bullshit. Everybody is Parker Posies, everybody is trying to be these pseudo wannabe thugs. All these motherfuckers wanted to be Will Smith ten years ago, all these motherfuckers wanted to be Kwame ten years ago, all of them wore polka dots, all of them knew how to do the Chinese typewriter like MC Hammer. Fuck that! What happened to all the dudes in middle school we used to beat up? All of a sudden they disappeared and everybody’s a thug. Fuck you! that’s bullshit! All the motherfuckers we used to beat up in high school, they bought a Tupac album, and now they’re fucking hardcore.

Do you think we would have seen Tupac evolving into a business mogul like Jay-Z and Diddy? Tupac was never selfish enough to make that happen. The thing about Tupac that was so great, that was so prolific, was the fact that he was about the community. It wasn’t about him being worth $400 million.

Do you think he was a revolutionary? Of course. At his height, there were cats in jail writing ‘Pac letters, asking him what they should be doing next. That is a mogul. When you can entrance an entire group of people to move in a completely different way, that’s a mogul. A mogul is somebody — if you go to the hood and sell this bullshit music, then you have to reinvest that money you make from this bullshit back into the hood. Build some community centers, rebuild some public schools. You got $700 million, take $100 million and rebuild some public schools. Whoa, now all of a sudden you’re a fucking philanthropist, you’re Rockefeller, you’ll be ordained and remembered forever. It’s real simple. From the time you make $100 million, your grandkids are taken care of, so what else do you need?

I read that you said you choose acting over engineering because girls don’t chase engineers. Now that you’re an actor, are girls chasing you? Nah, now that I’m an actor I wish I was an engineer. Because the engineers get the good girls, the engineers get the girls who are smart and cute, who go to the gym. I just get leftover street booty. I get videos hoes. Who the fuck wants them?

I do! Exactly, but then after five minutes you’re like, get outta here!

Who do you think is the greatest rapper of all time? Tupac. He’s the most prolific, he’s the most revered. Biggie died right before his second album. Biggie dropped a double CD after Tupac was the first rapper to drop a double CD. He revolutionized the game. Nobody was wearing tattoos and all that shit before Pac did. Everybody was listening to Kwame and Will Smith.

What about Eminem? You worked with him on 8 Mile. Do you think he’s a good rapper? I think Eminem is an amazing rapper. He’s no Tupac. I’ll say there are about eight cats before Eminem. But I think he’s definitely in the top ten, just because of his lyrical skills.

Where do you like to go out when you’re in New York? I mean, the thing about New York is, going out is kind of shaky, because you have so many smelly Europeans. It’s not like New York ’98, when you used to go out and you used to hit Lotus, you used to hit PM, you used to hit Nell’s. You don’t really go to Eugene’s anymore, 40/40 is a bunch of suits, and you don’t want to hang out with fucking cornballs.

Well, where do you hang out? I bring the party home, there’s this little spot I go to in Brooklyn called Moe’s. That’s old faith. You come to the city to get dinner, and you go there. Because at the end of the day, the city is garbage now. You go to the Meatpacking District, and it’s a bunch of Jersey freaks and weirdo European dudes. It’s really weird man. It’s like, you closed Lotus? Where am I supposed to go? Lotus is closed? I’ve been going to Lotus for a long time, Lotus and Nell’s.

I wasn’t around for Nell’s. Remember when Tupac got arrested in a club for fucking a girl and getting head? That was in Nell’s. Nell’s was right down the street from Lotus, it was on 14th between 7th and 8th. The illest club in the city. Upstairs there was live music, downstairs was just a sweatbox hip hop joint. They closed down the Palladium and made it a fucking NYU dorm. But Nell’s was the illest situation in Manhattan. So you know, I don’t hang out with fucking Europeans.