A New York Celebrity: Who Cares?

By - Kyle Dowling

In my mind it is without a doubt the finest section of this city. It’s hip, fashionable and not too over-the-top. Your basic jeans and t-shirt is fine for nearly all of the eateries. Well, most.

Welcome to Tribeca.

On this afternoon I sit in Locanda Verde—an energetic restaurant located on the corner of Greenwich and North Moore. Its feel is vibrant, exciting and most definitely intriguing. It seems whenever I pass this place all I can see through the large, elegant windows are crowds of smiling faces. Perhaps it’s the food, maybe even the establishment itself but something keeps their faces smiling. It should also be known that the restaurant sits as a part of the famous Greenwich Hotel—a boutique hotel owned by none other than Bobby D himself… Robert DeNiro.


A true New Yorker he is. The man loves Tribeca. Hell, I hear he even lives in this part of town, this neck of the woods. However, today the owner is nowhere in sight. But I assure you this; somebody is here. Somebody has ventured into the restaurant this afternoon to nourish in the wonder that is the food of Locanda Verde. The slew of paparazzi just outside the door, fifteen feet from my table, allow me to make this assumption.

Together they stand huddled with winter coats and hats as the snow slowly trickles down on their shivering skin. Surely whatever celebrity sits inside this place knows this, and I can only surmise that their attitude is a simple: “Fuck them.” Can you blame him? Yes, it’s a him.

Outside of these walls he is whoever the public perceives him to be. Yet in here?
No one cares.
No head spins.
Nobody drools.

A celebrity in New York City is the equivalent of watching a derelict pick through a garbage can on 5th avenue near Rockefeller Center… nobody notices, other than tourists.
Look away visitors.
Take in the sights, the surroundings!
There’s much more to look at than the beggar. Sure, it might be an odd and cruel analogy but still… it is the truth.

People sometimes go homeless. A tragedy is what that is. And people sometimes—often less—gain so much success that they hold the heavy title of ‘celebrity’ over their heads. Well, a tragedy is what that is as well.

But in New York, who cares? This is not Los Angeles; this is a city of intellects and hustlers… and of doers. That celebrity I see twenty feet from me? He moves, eats and laughs just like I do, just like you do.

Truthfully, he even urinates like the rest of us.
Trust me. He and I were urinal neighbors in the downstairs bathroom just a minute ago.
He seemed like a normal bathroom-attendee.

Yet while I and the other New Yorkers around might not care of his accomplishments or the fact that we all share a liking for fine dining, one thing is certain: he can play guitar, sing and scat much better than the rest of us.

Off the Menu:

Rudy Torres' Flortini - By Elizabeth Licata - Mixologists may slave over their seasonal menus and special offerings, but some of the most exciting drinks around can only be found under the table. Ask any good bartender, and chances are good that he's got something secret in the works that just hasn't made it to the menu yet. To find out what's the next big thing, we're going off the menu in search of next season's cocktails.

Rudy Torres at Topo Gigio in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood has been working to roll out something festive and refreshing; his Flortini is made with two parts Pinnacle cake-flavored vodka and one part fresh pineapple juice, shaken together, poured into a Champagne flute that's then filled with Prosecco and garnished with a maraschino cherry to create an overall effect that's almost exactly like drinking a pineapple upside-down cake in a glass.

The phrase "cake-flavored vodka" is enough to make most cocktail aficionados blanch, but the ingredients balance out to create a flavor that's refreshing but not cloying, and unusual enough to satisfy most seekers of unique libations. The Flortini is sweet, to be sure, but the Prosecco gives the drink a bright fizz that lightens the impact of the cake-flavored vodka, and the blast of pineapple keeps the profile fresh instead of sticky.

"I feel like I should be drinking this by an outdoor hotel pool at night during some kind of fabulous party," one taster opined.

"This reminds me of a Bellini," another taster said. "But it's a lot lighter, so I could drink a lot more of them. That's definitely a good thing."

Check it out. Topo Gigio

The Hipster Habitat - Kyle Dowling

They flood this place like a disease, the hipsters. Even now in this moment as I look up all I see is
an ocean of oversized knit caps and ironic mustaches.

The twirls.
The tiny, pedophile-like strips of hair on their upper lips.
Tell me, what purpose do they serve other than keeping women away?
Very rarely do I dare venture out of Manhattan; therefore it’s rather shocking to find myself in this
place… in Brooklyn.
The words nauseate me as I type, even worse so reading them back. If these people only knew
what was being typed on this page.
No, it is not some anti-establishment, indie rock novel.
No, it is not a book speaking out claiming that the nerd revolution has returned, making converse
“cool” and tight, dirty t-shirts “fashionable.”
It’s nothing they’d ever imagine, no matter how creative they think they are.
I had to take the G train to get here. Ask any true Manhattan-ite where the G train leads and
surely they’d response, “The what train? Leave me alone.”
A whole different world is what it is.
And even though I do not want to admit my current position tonight… I’m in Greenpoint,
Brooklyn, meeting a friend. Suffice to say, this was his choice.
The Habitat is where I sit, on Manhattan Avenue—of course, they needed some taste of the true
New York City in there. The café seems nice, a cozy spot for anyone willing to dive into the culture
of wannabee-hobo’s. The lights are dim.
The hipsters have sensitive eyes. Lighting hurts.
You poor cultural saps. I sympathize with you. Allow me to offer a kind-hearted roll of the eyes.
I can’t help but think I stick out tremendously; it appears that my straight fit jeans, boots and J.
Crew sweater make the guests uncomfortable, perhaps squeamish. Their mustache hairs blow rapidly
from the steam of confusion discharging out of their nostrils as a result of my outfit.
They just cannot understand why I would choose to not wear a size small t-shirt or black skinny
I see the table across from me holds three of them—surprisingly all male.
Call upon my relenting sarcasm.
All dark jeans, two black shirts, one white shirt (all tight) and two mustaches with the other one
having a sizable pair mutton chops. Tonight I find it hard to call my friend a true friend. Having
known me for ten years he should be well aware of the fact that I would not be welcome.
The trio of ironic facial hair all wince as I speak to the waitress, ordering too loudly for their ears.
It’s obvious they’d love to slowly whisper a “Hey man, relax dude. Quiet. My ears,” at me. Yet it
only makes me speak louder.
Oh, and here in walks my friend. It’s funny, his pants seem tighter than the last time I saw him.
His shirt seems wrinkled, and even from here I see prickles of hair sprouting from his lip.
They’ve begun to turn him.
What is this place?

Think small - Elizabeth Licata

Indie distillers craft spirits not for the masses - During prohibition, a neighbor with a still was the best friend a would-be tippler could have. Today Americans can get all the spirits they want, thanks to the 21st Amendment, but ease of access and mass production of distilled spirits may have cost us something in the personal touch and unique character of handcrafted spirits.

But small-batch production is making a significant comeback as many regions ease up on their restrictions on distilleries, leading to a growing craze among cocktail fans for spirits from independent producers.

"I think it started with the locavore food movement; people started getting more and more conscious about knowing where their food's coming from, and that trend is coming over into cocktails," said mixologist Adam Seger of Naçional 27 in Chicago, who says he mainly uses craft spirits behind the bar. "It's a great way to support your local economy, but also you're getting spirits that have a great deal more flavor and character."
Not many bartenders can say they have their own liquor brand, but Seger does. Hum, his unique, botanically infused rum, will end 2011 with 3,000 cases. Whistle Pig Rye, the small-batch darling, had 2,500 cases available this year.
According to Seger, the explosion in the openings of craft distilleries makes it possible for more bartenders to create a formula and partner with a local distillery to produce it, which makes the process much less complicated than attempting to build one's own distillery. Distilleries are faced with countless red tape and licensing issues that can make it difficult for a small brand to get footing. Some brands even have to change the laws to do so.

Chicago's Koval Distillery successfully lobbied Illinois to create a craft distiller's license, which went into effect last summer, and FEW Spirits in Evanston, Ill., which produces gin and white whiskey, had to get the law changed to allow for distiller's licenses in a town that was founded as a dry city and didn't give up its own mini prohibition until the 1970s.

A small-batch producer's size is one of its greatest assets, according to FEW founder Paul Hletko. "I don't expect to sell three million cases of my product, so I don't have to create a product that will appeal to three million people," he said. "People are excited to have the small batch spirits that are different. There's an awful lot of distilleries in the country that are producing truly different unique spirits that are different than you can get form the big boys and people are excited to get that."

Drinks for bookish Angelenos

by Lauren Eggert-Crowe

Old Hollywood's literary and film history comes alive in the prohibition-era cocktail trend

Let's say Philip Marlowe of Raymond Chandler's mystery novels and J.J. Gittes of Roman Polanski's Chinatown cross paths one day. It isn't that farfetched of a scenario. Both are detectives who frequently find themselves entwined in a web of seedy Angeleno corruption. Both skulk through the 1930s streets of Hollywood, trailing beautiful women, surreptitiously snapping photos of the story behind the story. Each man is a noir Private I. legend with a checkered past and the curse of a loner. Each man drinks like a fish.

And what better place for our investigative anti-heroes to satisfy their cravings for mixed libations than in the City of Angels, home to some of the best bars and cocktail lounges.

Almost a century later, Angelenos can partake in the same taste and ambience that these and other famous characters enjoyed. If you're in the mood for cocktails from the sheba-swinging days of Prohibition and the 1930s, Los Angeles has no shortage of beverages you'll think are just the cat's pajamas. The popularity of cocktails flourished in the roaring twenties, when swanky partiers and speakeasy owners used sugar or juice to mask the taste of shoddy moonshine. Now they've evolved into works of art and alchemy, each concoction boasting a well-crafted blend of liquors – the bitter, sweet and tart, delicately garnished with citrus rinds or sprigs of herbs.

A few places that can satisfy your cravings are establishments that any of L.A.'s literary Jazz Age legends would have loved. At Seven Grand, you can order just about any kind of whiskey your heart desires: drink it neat like Philip Marlowe preferred, or have one of their skilled bartenders whip you up a mint julep that F. Scott Fitzgerald would surely have imbibed during his stint in Hollywood. It may be a bit challenging to pretend you're hobnobbing with the Southern California contingent of the Lost Generation while the Ramones are singing, “I wanna be sedated” over the stereo, but such anachronisms are a tried and true part of L.A. life. Embrace it!

Seven Grand's rotating vintage cocktail menu features drinks straight out of the 1920s and 30s, but with finer whiskeys like Laphroaig and MacAllan. I tried the Lion's Tail, a bourbon drink touched with lemon and orange. Very California. Nearby in Silverlake, The Edendale Grill promises more old-fashioned cocktails made of rye whiskey and vermouth, with names like The Barley Chewer and Corpse Reviver.

If you're looking to do a bar crawl, hit The Edison, The Millennium Biltmore, or The Varnish next, where you'll find upscale speakeasy ambience and a wide selection of old-timey drinks. Finish the night with, of course, the Raymond Chandler Gin Gimlet at The Ivy. Don't be surprised to spot a man in a trenchcoat and fedora surveying the scene from a table in the corner.

Tea Infused Spirits:

by: Katie Herman The market for specialty tea has been on the rise since the early 1900s as people began recognizing the invigorating and healthy attributes that tea had to offer.  Once lauded as a beverage based on etiquette and prestige, loose-leaf tea is now finding itself as a tool for mixologists who have taken the traditional method of brewing tea with water to a new level by infusing tea leaves directly into hard liquor and spirits.  

Tea infused cocktails are finding themselves on menus of fine restaurants and bistros, creating a whole new flavor profile to the traditional cocktail.  According to Tony Gebely, owner of Chicago Tea Garden, “The art of creating unique spirits is limitless when using tea; infusing tea into alcohol brings out a different array of flavors that water alone can not produce.  High quality, yet affordable tea such as a Chinese Tie Guan Yin or Golden Bi Lou can provide unique flavors previously unknown to the cocktail world.”  Recognizing that loose-leaf tea can add complexity and intrigue to the traditional cocktail has opened the door to limitless possibilities.  Any mixologist will tell you that it’s all about experimentation.  Tea infused spirits can be done in a matter of days by simply adding loose-leaf tea leaves to any alcohol such as vodka or rum and letting the flavor of the leaves infuse.  Tea syrups can also be made by reducing tea leaves in sugar and water to form a syrup.  Whether ordering a tea-based cocktail at your neighborhood bistro, or preparing one at home, tea based beverages are sure to impress guests and offer a fresh twist to afternoon tea.

What to drink for an Emmy Party


We put together a bunch of drinks to celebrate the nominees for the top drama and comedy shows. So have a party and see if your friends can figure out which drink goes with which show! We picked out some tongue and cheek or maybe a few literal drinks but feel free to let us know your ideas.

Drama Nominees

For the prohibition/bootlegger feel of HBO's Broadwalk Empire we picked an Old Fashion and a Rum Runner. People started mixing juices and adding fruit to their drinks during prohibition to both hide the fact they were drinking alcohol and to cover the taste of some not so great home distilled spirits. 



AMC's Breaking Bad has all things meth as it's central point with lots of wild drama and tense situations. We picked the Ice Bomb as a salute to the slang for Crystal Meth and the fact that these pop up labs blow up on a regular basis.


 For Downton Abby (PBS) the Gibson was inspired by the Gibson girls of the late 1910's. A classy and elegant drink served in a tiny 3oz cocktail glass brings up thoughts of drawing rooms and white lace gloves.



 Yes winter is coming, so to keep strong and warm this very tasty drink will make you want to curl up under a pile of furs in front of a roaring fire with the Imp to entertain you. One of our favorite shows in the line up Game of Thrones (HBO) has everything a good show should have, sex, blood, occult, mystery and they kill off the annoying characters pretty quickly!



 Showtime's Homeland is growing on us with the bipolar lead character and a clash of judgements, morals and impulse control. We thought the Original Sin fit the bill.



Mad Men (AMC)'s salute to the 50's and men behaving badly in really nice suits was almost too easy. We thought what better than a Rob Roy or an Martini. Hey at least it used to be okay to start drinking at lunch! 




Comedy Nominees:

Ah, this drink is a shoe in for the CBS series Big Bang Theory! How cool is it that Nerds are cool again, or wait are they, or were they, or are they going to be? Oh well Sheldon would probably know. After this drink anything will be funny. 


 We love the off the wall insider humor of Curb Your Enthusiasm from HBO but coming up with a drink that fit was a little harder. We wanted to find something that fit the rich white boy angst. Maybe the Vanilla Nut fits the bill.


 The new series Girls is a continuation of the angst but it's all about who does what to who when and if and all the drama and comedy that goes along with that. So for all the girls, here's a Kiss on the Lips for HBO's latest.



 Modern Family is all about change, new families, old families, old relationships, damaged relationships, fixed relationships, you get the idea... So its all about people turning a new leaf. Great effort by ABC.



 30 Rock is all about the characters, our favorite (Alex Baldwin) wins our vote with a nod to the drink the Nutty Irishman. Great season NBC.



 Julia Louis-Dreyfus wins our vote in VEEP for the character with good intentions but ends up being exactly of what we expect all of our politicians of being, a little shady. Great move on those oil rights.... HBO again strikes just the right tone in this political comedy that points to that it doesn't matter who gets in, it ends up being about what they take out. So here's to the Shady Lady.