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!

The Out and About Chronicles

I was good and didn’t go out tonight. Hooray for publicizing my intentions so that I’ll publicly shame myself if I fail. Now that I have the time, I can share what I’ve been up to. Yes, that’s right. I made the decision to not go out as much so that I could get home and blog about the times that I was out. It’s all so meta and ironic that my head has already exploded. Twice. (That’s actually how Asians stay so young looking. We regenerate our heads like lizards do with their tails. Pearl Cream is just a hoax we sell to white people.)

Less than two weeks into my new dream job at Fabby Fab Fab, we had a company post-holiday party. Mainly, it was for the team that had been there the previous 7 months, when they experienced something like 700% growth since launching in June 2011. The co-founders wanted to give them a celebration during a time when they wouldn’t be under the gun the next day. In fact, they wanted to make sure everyone would be able to relax and enjoy the party so much that they made the next morning a mandatory Come In Late day.

That kind of thoughtfulness is exactly why I love Fab. I guess you wouldn’t really start something that’s based around making people smile unless you have that mindset. I can’t say enough how fortunate I feel to have joined such an amazing team. And to get to know everyone on such a fun night! We scarfed down delicious wine and hors d’oeuvres at Market Table, detoured for cocktails at 10 Downing, then sang karaoke at some place called Boho or Bobo (?). I’ll admit it was hard to keep track of names, either places or people, after a few of the delish lavender fizzes you see in the picture above. It was the perfect way to be welcomed onto such an awesome team!

Last Friday was also intensely fun. I knew I’d be up to no good when the Princeton Madam commanded me to attend Muy Thai boxing with her. I can never resist a night she plans and boy, did she deliver! To set the tone for a primal evening, we had dinner at Meskerem, an Ethiopian restaurant. They set down a gigantic platter filled with food, tossed fluffy folds of bread in front of each of us, and provided no silverware. We just dug right in with our bare hands. It was my first time, and I loved it!

After we were uncomfortably full, I waddled after the group. Now, when I heard we were watching boxing, I imagined some dark basement filled with shadowy figures placing bets on vicious killers who would fight to the death. Instead, we ended up in an enormous rec center on the ground floor of a Catholic cathedral in midtown Manhattan. I bought beer from a lady who looked and sounded like a soccer mom. It would’ve been disappointing, but the multiple rounds of intense kickboxers, free-flowing beer (thank you, soccer mom) (and… Jesus, I guess?), and fun dance music during breaks really kept things lively. Who knew? I might do it again soon.

Oops, I mean, I won’t do it again soon. Because I’m supposed to be going out less. Sigh. Now you know why it’s hard to say no.

Just Say No is Harder Than It Sounds

Talk about first world problems, I’m about to complain about having too many parties to go to. I know. It’s not really a problem, but I am feeling a bit fuzzy in the brain from going out so much.

I’m a firm believer in the fact that each person has at least one trait that makes him/her special. Usually there’s a good and bad side to that trait, and the trick to leading a good life is figuring out how to keep yourself on the good side.

One major characteristic of mine is how very excited I get about most things. You’ve all* seen my happy face when I hear about a new project, idea, restaurant, homeless guy with funny sign, bar, drink, person, movie, book… yeah. I’m a friggin excitable puppy!

So, the bad part kicks in when I say yes to more things than I can handle. It seems simple. I have a planner, I can see what my week looks like and logically compute that I should not take any more on. But then, the excited puppy in me kicks in. It’s like I wag my tail so hard that I can’t see straight. And then I say yes to things. Lots of things! And they’re all so fun, and I lose track of time, and hey! 10 new Facebook friends, yay, why not.

And it really is fun. It’s just so darn hard to balance all the things that I want to accomplish as well. I don’t think I would continue being an interesting person if all I did was party. But geez, didn’t I work this hard to be interesting just so I’d get invited to things? Hee!

This isn’t a resolution because I have no tangible goals. However, I’m going to be working on saying no to more things, even when they are amazing and I will probably kick myself when I see everybody’s awesome pics of what I missed on the intertube. Hopefully, that leads to more things getting done that will be more satisfying in the long run. Wish me luck, and remember not to peer pressure me too much about going out. I’m weak!

*I’m assuming everyone reading this is a friend. And Ryan Gosling. Hi Ryan, we can be friends.

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 Year of Weddings

It’s been over a year since I last posted. I miss writing with no agenda! One major reason was the plethora of weddings keeping me busy. Little Miss Hussy, Rits and Ctina all got married, and they all made me their Maid of Honor. It really was an amazing honor. Each wedding was different and added something new to my life, just like these ladies. Below, a small taste of those celebrations.

Little Miss Hussy kicked things off last December with a dinner at Frankies in Brooklyn and a cupcake reception dance party at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. The food at Frankies was scrumptious. Platters of puffy pillowy gnocchi, meatballs in sauce so good that it made you drool while eating it, and many other dishes covered the tables. Afterwards, we headed to the reception to dance the dinner off. Most of our friends are in publishing, so it was fitting that we were surrounded by laden bookshelves and tomes of literatures. The middle of the room had been cleared to make space for dancing, a cocktail bar, a table full of gorgeous cupcakes, and a classic photobooth. Once all the guests had arrived, the couple took the floor for their first dance to Kat Edmonson’s version of Just Like Heaven. I choreographed and taught them the dance, so I felt like a majorly proud mama watching them!

Next up was Rits’ wedding. We traveled to Iceland for her bachelorette party because we wanted an adventure! There, we had an amazing, multi-course, wine-paired meal at Fiskfelagid, got addicted to lamb hot dogs, partied all over Reykjavik, rode Icelandic ponies (my pony started a minor stampede but I managed to stay on!), and relaxed in the geothermal spa at Blue Lagoon. Un. Real. Her wedding day was just as special, at a cozy penthouse in the heart of SoHo. The ceremony was held on the rooftop beneath perfect blue skies, and then the party spread out into 2 floors for a dinner and dance party. Rits is lucky enough to have a talented chef as a brother, and he orchestrated a meal that transitioned seamlessly from a salmon tartare amuse to fish and meat courses that melted in our mouths. After we reluctantly stopped eating (because it was that or burst), we waddled upstairs to the dance floor to watch the couple’s first dance and then jumped right in to boogie down all night long.

Not to be outdone, Ctina decided to have two receptions, in New York and Ohio so that no friends or family members would be left out. The New York party was way outside the box. They took over a nightclub with a stage so that the groom could perform with his jazz-punk-rock band and filled long tables with 30 different kinds of empanadas and a cool deconstructed cake from Milk Bar. As we stuffed our faces, the groom played saxo-ma-phone and serenaded the bride. Hello, romance! The party danced the night away. A few weeks later, I flew to Ohio for part deux of Ctina’s celebrations. The ceremony was held in this lovely white church with polished dark wood beams and pews. After lots of tearing up and picture taking, we went on to the reception where we had to force the way-too-polite couple to sit and eat, instead of greeting guests. Needless to say, we all danced up a storm after dinner. Whee!

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?