A Very VIP Night

On an ordinary Thursday evening in mid-April, a curated group of cocktail connoisseurs were invited to the mysteriously named Infused Night, with even more mysterious promises of fun and games throughout the city.

cayrum manhattans

Photo by Jenny Adams (www.jennyadamsfreelance.com).

Hosted by Cayrum, a blend of golden Dominican rum, fresh ginger root, and natural honey that recently launched in New York City, our night began at Haven, an airy rooftop bar in Times Square. Guests were served a modernized Manhattan and the pleasantly Spicy Kiki, made with muddled cilantro and serrano peppers. Both drinks highlighted the smooth sweetness and ginger spice of Cayrum in different ways.

After an hour of cocktails and gazing at the impressive view, we were whisked away in black SUVs to our surprise second location. We arrived at Keats to find karaoke, trays of Cayrum shots (mm, smooth!), and a ginger ale concoction that played off the spiced ginger notes wonderfully. Although shy at first, our group took over the karaoke stage to deliver rousing renditions of Britney Spears classics until the black SUVs showed up again.

group

Photo by Jenny Adams (www.jennyadamsfreelance.com).

The third surprise stop was Hog Pit in Chelsea, with a long wide table laden with fried pickles, succulent wings, savory sliders, deviled eggs, and fried frog legs. Our appetites thoughtfully satiated, trays arrived with more shots of Cayrum, and an announcement that we were entered into a darts tournament. Sharp flying objects and copious amounts of alcohol seemed ill-advised, but the fried frog legs had imbued us all with a sense of adventurousness. Or perhaps the free-flowing golden drams of infused rum did that, it’s hard to say.

After an intense no-holds-barred battle, during which three surprise bullseyes were scored (did this rum have magical properties?), we gathered for a picture to commemorate the moment. And then it was off into the SUVs again, and onward to our final destination.

Arriving at Stash, we were ushered in past the waiting line and into an underground cavern that resembled an ornately decorated subway tunnel. Rich red and gold tiles lined the curved ceiling, which was bathed in a warm glow. Our banquette awaited, with yet another table full of drinks, ice, and mixers, but nobody sat down. The music inspired us to dance away the rest of our Infused Night.

cayrum

Photo by Jenny Adams (www.jennyadamsfreelance.com).

Future events are being planned, and Cayrum selects their Facebook fans as guests. So like them and give it a try in the meantime. The awesome night they planned definitely sweetened me up to their cause, but honestly, it’s a great drink made the right way (aged for years in bourbon oak barrels and with real honey and ginger instead of powders). Delicious in straight up shots, on the rocks, or mixed into a cocktail, it’s an easy way to ease into the warm weather we’re finally having.

A Day of Overindulgence

Oh dear. When I said I’d go out less, I guess I meant less days but somehow the same amount of actual out-ness. I managed to pack 15 hours of partying into Saturday this weekend. I swear I didn’t mean to.

It began with brunch and unlimited mimosas at 121 Fulton. Look at this gorgeous plate! I ordered the brunch sampler, which included a mini steak & egg (with the most adorable fried quail egg on top), bacon & hash, and baked eggs with tomatoes, spinach & bacon. Obviously, I had to toast my genius designer friend repeatedly over our delicious meal. Down the hatch, mon petit mimosa. Oh and there was a second reason for us to gulp down cocktails. We needed help to ignore the strange couple sitting next to us and making out noisily. At one point, I said loudly, “We are trying. To. Eat.” However, this statement seemed to turn them on because the kissing became even slurpier. Eeeeeeeww.

I took a break from the retoxing to meet another friend visiting from Londontown. We strolled along the Highline in the oddly springlike weather, sipped cappuccinos at a place so French that the service took forever (that’s how you know it’s authentic), and then played dress-up in the Anthropologie shop in Chelsea Market. Feeling virtuous (and super girly), we headed over to Basta Pasta for dinner.

It’s going to take me a while to wrap my brain around the amazing meal we had. When I do, I fully intend to do a complete write-up. For now, just feast your eyes on how gorgeous the plates are. Basta Pasta is an Italian restaurant with a strong Japanese influence. The food is comforting in that deep soul-satisfying way that pasta is, while the service and decor are so calm and clean that it felt like the world had come to a stop. In a good way. Dinner was a pocket of quiet enjoyment with some very good friends.

Well. Until we’d had a couple bottles of wine, that is. Then I think the staff gave up hope of maintaining a calm ambience in our presence. At the very end, they figured out how to quiet us down. This is a delightful slice of ricotta cheesecake getting sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan. We watched in awe as the waitress covered the plate in what looked like fluffy snow. It may sound odd, but it was an utterly delicious combination. The saltiness of the cheese offset the light crumbly sweetness of the cake perfectly.

Glowing from that amazing meal (and eagerly making plans for our next visit back), we traipsed across Union Square and ended up at Pierre Loti for a nightcap. Or five. One by one, the ladies made their escape. Laura, draped in shiny Marc Jacobs accessories galore, was off to a party in the exclusive Soho House. We fawned over her until she told us firmly that she could not bring us with her (pout). Then Rits said something about not wanting to be hungover while skiing the next day. Wimp!

It was up to me, Little Miss Hussy, and the Brit to keep the night going. Luckily, our friendly waiter was headed off duty and brought us along on his afterhours party crawl. At this point, the Brit threw in the towel. (To be fair, I think it was 5am in London-time at that point, so she was a trooper.) Not sure why this always happens when I go out with the Hussy, but we found ourselves dancing in the secret back room of a bar for a private party where bartenders were winning trips to Disney World (??). I know how surreal that last sentence sounds, but for once I am not hyperbolating (real word) for humor’s sake. We really were in a secret bartender party. I hope they don’t kill me for telling.

I’m realizing that it’s not realistic for me to stop going out. I mean, it’s just too damn fun and there’s always something amazing to be discovered in this great city. However, this week is most certainly devoted to eating veggies and cooking some homemade soup to recover. Cheers!

These Magic Moments

Somewhere between studying the tiny brush strokes of a Seurat up close and dancing on top of a bar at 3am, it hit me. I’m having the frickin time of my life!

I think I’ve done well as a community manager because I love taking care of people. Even before I worked in startup land, friends would come to talk out problems with me. Amateur therapy sessions followed by hearty home-cooked meals can solve most anything!

The last couple of weeks have been a revelation because I’ve finally turned that attention to myself. If something sounds interesting to me, I try it. And I find so many things interesting.

Skillshare is a major enabler for my binge. So far, I’ve taken classes about branding, content curation, building partnerships, biz dev (what we cool kids call business development), and SEO. I learned a lot and also realized how much I already know. Some of my experience just needed some context. A class about making ice cream without an ice cream maker is coming up soon, too. The plan is to make a special peppermint holiday flavor!

MoMA is another source of inspiration. A very dear friend gave me a membership for my birthday this year, and I have been taking advantage of special members-only hours to view exhibitions without being bumped by enthusiastic tour groups. The picture above is a close-up of a Seurat. I love practically smushing my face into paintings by him and Van Gogh, to the chagrin of the security guards. Even though their techniques are very different, their works still hold tangible traces of their dedication and passion. I look at the thick slabs of paint in a Van Gogh and almost touch the extreme emotional range that led this man to cut his own ear off (don’t worry, I’m not interested in trying that out).

Lest you think I’m only doing classy stuff, please know that I am giving partying some serious attention as well. Last night, I celebrated a friend’s big three-oh at Crown Vic in Billyburg (what the cool kids call business development, I mean, Williamsburg).

The night was pretty epic! In between copious amounts of whiskey (Johnnie Black on the rocks, please), I got to pretend-drive a tractor, listen to an impromptu bluegrass session, and dance on the bar with the bartender. No, I didn’t fall off the bar, and yes, we are BFFs now (what we cool kids call… oh forget it). If you look for the bottle opener in the picture above, you’ll get an idea of their sense of humor there.

By definition, a binge is anything taken to excess, so I know I can’t keep this up. And honestly, it’s only fun to be selfish once in a while. I still want to take care of the people I love and work hard to build things that make me proud. I’ll just indulge a little while longer and invite you guys along for the ride. Beep beep!

My Big Fat Fake Birthday

I’m a September baby, but you wouldn’t know it since I had my birthday party this past weekend. It all began when four of my august friends (see what I did there?) banded together to plan a group celebration at Le Lupanar. “It’ll be fun,” they gushed to each other. “We can take over the place and dance all night and…” “Ok-ok-ok, I’m in!!” I sighed like they had been begging me to join for ages (simply ages, dah-ling). Four pairs of eyes swiveled toward me in surprise and they struggled for a polite way to ask 1. who I was and 2. when my birthday was. I switched tactics. “Something something falls on Labor Day, and everybody’s always away that weekend, blah blah pity on me,” I said intelligently. They patted me on the head and told me I could be part of the August birthday party as a pity fifth. Score!

On the day of the party, my good friend Ctina treated me to an early birthday dinner at db townhouse because she knew how much I loved dining there during Restaurant Week. I revisited the Sea Scallops Benedict for the starter, I just had to. The salt-water tang of the scallops melded with the sharper savoriness of thin slices of chorizo sausage, which all got mellowed out by poached quail eggs laying on top. I broke their yolks with my fork and watched deep yellow rivulets slide along the smooth round surface of each scallop, pause at the edge, and then creep over and run thickly down its sides to pool upon the plate. An airy lobster foam completed the dish and melted like a dream in my mouth. I started thinking about how the foam was so light and the quail egg yolk so thick, that they were opposites, and I was simultaneously tasting the air and the earth. Or maybe that was just the wine talking! For my entree, I had seared medium rare tuna on a bed of couscous and tiny grasslike mushrooms. The waitress solemnly poured warm broth over the dish, bathing me and Ctina in a fragrant cloud of lemongrass and beets, light and vegetable sweet. When we somehow found room to attempt dessert, we sampled an Orange Blossom Panna Cotta (heavenly) and a Strawberry Shortcake Sundae (your childhood memories, one-upped by a master chef). True caffeine junkies that we were, we had several cups of coffee before heading out to the birthday party I’d muscled my way into.

Le Lupanar was amazingly fun! I worked for 5-1/2 years in book publishing before Black Wednesday hit, and the night was full of reunions with friends from all of the major houses. It was also a chance to mash all my groups together so that socializing could be easier (I love y’all but I’m lazy, yo). Alas, friendships were not to be forged since, as always, the night devolved into a series of dance-offs. Well. Not dance-offs in the sense that anyone actually knew how to dance. Hence the “off” part of that statement. There we were, publishing nerds in cocktail dresses or button-up shirts and khaki cargo shorts, pretending we knew how to crump. It was quite a sight. Meanwhile, at the bar beyond the dance floor battleground, one friend found a way around my No Shots policy by buying me many gin martinis (straight up with a twist, and I would prefer stirred not shaken, but trying telling that to an intimidating Manhattan bartender). Next time, I may just accept the shots. It would be less alcohol. In my gin-soaked haze, another friend appeared and presented me with a $2 bill upon which he penned a personalized haiku. Fitting, since we’re in the same writing group. Hours of “dancing” later (it feels more honest to include those quote marks), the best present of all arrived in the form of a car ride home. Whoo!

Gosh I wonder what’ll happen in two weeks when it actually is my birthday?