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È nato a Lecco, ma è cresciuto in Friuli nell’attività di bar della famiglia, e dopo importanti esperienze presso gli hotel Gleaneagles in Scozia, Cipriani di Venezia e Gstaadt in Svizzera, nel 2000 è sbarcato negli Stati Uniti, a Las Vegas, per iniziare quella che sarebbe diventata una carriera stellare nel mondo della mixology internazionale. Negli anni, Francesco Lafranconi si è distinto per un crescendo di esperienze e vittorie, iniziando a lavorare per la compagnia di distribuzione di bevande alcoliche più grande in America, la Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, passando per la creazione di Mr. Coco, cocktail lounge nella Fantasy Tower del Palms Casino Resort, che vanta diversi riconoscimenti, come l’Eater Award per il miglior bar di Las Vegas nel 2019 e finalista a Tales of the Cocktail come miglior bar d’albergo.

Sei arrivato negli Stati Uniti nel 2000. In ambito mixology come era la situazione?

Ai tempi non esisteva ancora una vera e propria cultura in tal senso. Si iniziava forse a percepire il vantaggio di utilizzare ingredienti freschi come succhi di frutta tipo lime e limone al posto di quelli pre-confezionati. Del resto, la più tradizionale cultura culinaria americana predilige cibo in scatola o pronto per il microonde, ricco di additivi. A Las Vegas ho creato una scuola per mixology: la Academy di Spirit and Fine Service, grande opportunità di cambiare le sorti della mixology statunitense divenne realtà.

In cosa consiste l’impronta di Lafranconi nella mixology americana?

Ho innovato concretamente quando ho iniziato a lavorare con catene di alberghi e ristoranti a livello internazionale, tra i quali il Four Seasons e l’Intercontinental, tra le più importanti all’epoca. La svolta è stata utilizzare tecniche e ingredienti culinari di pasticceria nei cocktail, come coulisgelatinespezie particolari e olii essenziali. Inoltre, ha inciso notevolmente l’aver collaborato con grandi chef stellati come Daniel BouludThomas Keller, e Roy Yamaguchi che lavorano con prodotti etnici e che quindi aprono a più possibilità e abbinamenti. Ho cercato di migliorare “l’aestethic value” sia del drink attraverso una scelta più elevata del bicchiere e delle guarnizioni, ma anche del barware/bartools.

Un respiro internazionale fin da subito…

Diciamo che ho attirato la curiosità, prima di supplier locali, influenzando il mercato del Nevada e poi quello statunitense, per poi evolvere con un’esposizione internazionale grazie a diversi agreement con marchio di spirit, che mi hanno portato a girare letteralmente il mondo e a conoscerne le tendenze in fatto di mixology.

Sono passati più di 20 anni dal tuo arrivo in America. Oggi, grazie anche al tuo ruolo di ambassador, la situazione è cambiata?

Sebbene manchi ancora sostanzialmente una vera e propria cultura del “bere bene”, riferendomi alla qualità verso la quantità, cocktail bar e speakeasy oggi prendono molto più seriamente la propria offerta anche nelle zone più rurali, come ad esempio il Missouri o il South Carolina e il Middle West. Nei primi tempi di insegnamento nell’Academy, parlavo di una dozzina di distillerie di whisky americano in Kentucky, oggi in America si contano attualmente 2100 distillerie. C’è un fervore incredibile, ma persiste tuttavia una grande differenza tra la realtà americana e quella europea, anche per due fattori determinanti. Sto parlando del costo del lavoro e dei volumi di clientela, che in America sono decisamente maggiori per entrambi i casi.

Come incide nell’esperienza nel locale?

Cambia il discorso inerente all’etica del lavoro, con un approccio professionale differente. In America c’è molto meno “pride of ownership” e molti dipendenti si sentono tali, senza ambizione o troppa devozione. In Italia, invece, nei locali si lavora per crearsi una carriera, con la conseguenza di lavorare più ore e con più passione, anche senza essere retribuiti appropriatamente e in assenza del 20% di percentuale mance sullo scontrino. E questo emerge nel clima, nella proposta e nell’esperienza all’interno di un locale.

Invece quali differenze a livello di consumo?

L’americano cena con il cocktail e non c’è da meravigliarsi se ordina un Martini o addirittura un Espresso Martini in accompagnamento alla bistecca. In generale, a livello nazionale questo è il momento dell’agave, della tequila e del mezcal, soprattutto grazie alla spinta lifestyle data dal brand Patrón tra il 2010 e il 2020. Oggi molte celebrità, infatti, stanno investendo in tequila per capitalizzare su questo distillato che, a livello di consumi, è decimo posto per consumo mondiale di bevande alcoliche.

Altri trend in atto?

Dal punto di vista della presentazione, in America si sta tornando al minimalismo, a un approccio giapponese essenziale con un bel bicchiere, un bel ghiaccio e nessuna guarnizione. Ancora oggi siamo un po’ indietro con la conoscenza merceologica e c’è molta segmentazione, con accentuata verticalità a seconda dei gusti e delle mode. Solo attualmente, per esempio, si sta iniziando a imparare come usare i vermout e come preservarli correttamente in un ambiente refrigerato.

Ecco, di che mondo stiamo parlando?

Il vermouth è un’esperienza sensoriale unica, trascendente, con un pout Pot-pour-ri di spezie che trasporta in territori lontani, dove trionfano botaniche esotiche particolari. Confronto agli amari, inoltre, il vermouth richiede molta disciplina nell’enotecnica e l’utilizzo di vino di alta qualità. Il vermouth, del resto, rappresenta la storia della nazione. Pensiamo al commercio delle spezie che ha alimentato imperi fin dal 1600, definendo la geopolitica internazionale, ma anche all’aristocrazia torinese che durante la fusione delle due Italie con il Piemonte nel periodo dell’illuminismo in poi, lo consumavano come bevanda dopo teatro. Si tratta di vera e propria impronta culturale.

Dove trova le sue origini?

L’Italia è stata la prima nazione a commercializzare il vermouth nel 1786 con il vermouth di Antonio Benedetto Carpano. Poi seguirono i francesi con una ricetta commerciale del vermouth dry, e poi ancora gli spagnoli. Se Italia, Francia e Spagna hanno una più lunga storia e tradizione in tal senso, pian piano altre nazioni del mondo stanno capendo che ci sono interessanti opportunità di espandere l’utilizzo dei loro vini in ricette come il vermouth.

Come per esempio l’America?

Ad oggi, è in effetti più innovativa nell’utilizzo di assenzio, ma non tutti i produttori di vermouth lo includono nelle loro formule. Tornando alla storia, fino al Proibizionismo il vermouth era abbastanza popolare in America, tanto che anche a New York fino agli inizi degli anni Venti del Novecento veniva gustato piacevolmente e la sua spinta di gloria risale agli inizi anni 70 dell‘Ottocento, quando venne inventato il cocktail Manhattan, di cui è un ingrediente molto importante. Oggi di vermouth ce n’è per tutti i gusti e per tutti gli abbinamenti, dal dry o extra dry che può essere degustato con molluschi o al chinato ideale per i dessert. Io vivo ogni giorno il vermouth, provandolo in ogni luogo che visito, così da impararlo sempre di più. Da circa il 2010 il Negroni ha preso piede e di conseguenza molti brand di vermouth trovano una loro vetrina per proporre nuove formule al di là dei marchi tradizionali in questo fantastico cocktail tutto italiano.

Da grande ambasciatore del vermouth, qual è la sua attualità?

Secondo la mia opinione manca un prodotto di altissimo livello e c’è ancora molto da esplorare nel mondo del vermouth. Il vermouth è una cosa seria, ma è molto simpatica da bere e si basa su un complicato processo di preparazione che necessita di una certa materia prima, di erbe officinali, di una specifica percentuale di umidità delle erbe botaniche, di metodi per preservare il vino e molta cura dal punto manifatturiero.

La Rosevale Cocktail Room

Con lo scopo di creare cultura sul mondo del vermouth attraverso esperienze guidate, Francesco Lafranconi ha studiato un preciso piano per la Rosevale Cocktail Room dell’Hotel Civilian di New York. Qui sono presenti quasi 200 etichette di vermouth in cinque stili diversi da esplorare in base al livello di dolcezza, alla complessità aromatica e al paese di origine.

«La mia intenzione è far decollare il concetto di vermouth che trova nel bar Rosevale il suo epicentro e meta di pellegrinaggio, dove chiunque può assaporare un esempio di civiltà che si manifesta attraverso alta cultura enologica e le giuste spezie – spiega Lafranconi -. Proprio per far comprendere questo rito, ho ideato dei percorsi di degustazione di vermouth. Tra essi c’è il Giro d’Italia, tributo al vermouth prodotto nello Stivale che viene degustato nella quantità di una oncia (30 ml) per ciascuno dei quattro campioni, a cui sono abbinati cibi dolci e salati».

Actor David Harris is currently playing the role of the Duke of Monroth in the long-running Broadway hit Moulin Rouge.

An Australian native, who is also a an acclaimed singer, Harris now calls New York City home.

Below, he shares his favorite diversions and spots around town.

I like to take visiting friends and family to a pre-show dinner at Rosevale Kitchen which is on street level of The Civilian Hotel on 48th street. It has casual but chic décor with a clean, fresh menu which doesn’t weigh you down ahead of watching or performing a show. I am fond of the burrata for starters, and either fish or a steak for entre whilst sipping a champagne or two, (when I don’t have a show to perform, of course). The flutes they are served in makes it taste even nicer. They also have a great cocktail bar on the second floor and rooftop bar with great views.

Secret Garden Sunday brunch launches at the CIVILIAN Hotel’s Rosevale Kitchen + Cocktail Room.

Rockwell Group designs a spectacular indoor courtyard dining experience in the heart of Manhattan’s theatre district. After an eventful work week, it’s a chique parlor where patrons can gather and unwind. Because the venue is completely covered, this summer’s tropical weather with sporadic showers won’t put a damper on plans. In fact, the picturesque plaza is a perfect getaway for two to six people seeking a social scene with some serious sips.

The Wanamaker Playhouse, presented in a small glass chamber with mist, offers an array of nectars: white peach, raspberry puree, and orange juice. Intended to be mixed with Luca Paretti prosecco, this tableside service nicely pairs with most of their menu items. For starters, Grapefruit + Mint, a chilled appetizer, comes with candied hazelnuts. Or, a scrumptious salad with cesar dressing offers just enough tang before the entrees arrive. Wagyu hash and smoked salmon on a bagel were our favorite dishes. It’s a nice departure from the basic bacon and eggs served at several spots.

The local is lavish and layered with various accouterments that add to the ambiance. Clerestory windows, floral arrangements coupled with statement fixtures sprinkled throughout created a memorable citadel refuge. Moreover, the bunker’s rustic silhouette was further pronounced with a vintage door, handmade chandelier alongside a ginormous custom floral banquette by Preston Bailey. It all played nicely off the burnt orange mosaics which permeated the position.

Lastly, Carver Road Hospitality‘s level of service was pristine and polished, resulting in a serene sanctuary of decadence.

Secret Garden Sunday brunch launches at the CIVILIAN Hotel's Rosevale Kitchen + Cocktail Room via 360 MAGAZINE.

Secret Garden Sunday brunch launches at the CIVILIAN Hotel's Rosevale Kitchen + Cocktail Room via 360 MAGAZINE.

Secret Garden Sunday brunch launches at the CIVILIAN Hotel's Rosevale Kitchen + Cocktail Room via 360 MAGAZINE.

Secret Garden Sunday brunch launches at the CIVILIAN Hotel's Rosevale Kitchen + Cocktail Room via 360 MAGAZINE.

Secret Garden Sunday brunch launches at the CIVILIAN Hotel's Rosevale Kitchen + Cocktail Room via 360 MAGAZINE.

Secret Garden Sunday brunch launches at the CIVILIAN Hotel’s Rosevale Kitchen + Cocktail Room.

While it measures in at just 59 square kilometers, the island of Manhattan is home to more than 1.6 million residents, serving as one of the most densely-settled regions on earth. Amidst the vast clusters of towering skyscrapers mingled with verdant parks, visitors can discover one of the most glorious drinking and dining scenes found on the entire planet, with a plethora of high-end bistros and dimly-lit dives to explore. While it may seem intimidating at first glance, those willing to set foot in New York County are in for a truly unforgettable experience, with no shortage of dishes, ingredients, and culinary styles from all across the globe packed into one borough.

Lower East Side

The Williamsburg Bridge was opened on December 20th, 1903.

Perched on the edge of the East River adjacent to Kings County, the Lower East Side is equipped with a stellar cocktail scene, serving as the perfect spot for a well-earned drink after a stroll across the Williamsburg Bridge. To kick off the night, newly-opened venue Thief is home to a diverse array of cocktails ranging from the agave and passionfruit-loaded Fire It Up to the rum-forward Dillinger’s Downfall, with no shortage of hearty comfort food to snack on in between drinks. But when it comes to decadent dining, the Lower East Side is home to a massive array of options. For fans of hearty Argentinian cuisine, Balvanera offers top-tier skirt steak in a cozy space, while Dhamaka is a favorite for ultra-flavorful South Asian fare, with Indian dishes like paneer methi, misa mach poora, and Nagaland pork all gracing the menu.

Washington Heights

Washington Heights was named after Fort Washington.

Renowned across the nation for its strong Caribbean heritage, Washington Heights serves as one of the Northeast’s crown jewels of Dominican dining. To experience the cuisine firsthand, Malecon has been a local favorite since the turn of the millennium, providing diners with some of the finest roast chicken in all of the city. Just a few steps away, venues range from the no-frills Marilu & Daysi to Jalao NYC, a new arrival to the local dining scene that’s earned abundant acclaim for their gorgeous interior, regular live music, and classic dishes like sancocho, mofongo, and pecao frito—but if you’re in the mood for classic Italian fare, be sure to swing by Aquamarina for a plate of veal parm paired with the perfect margarita.

SoHo

Soho is short for “South of Houston,” a nickname that references Manhattan’s iconic Houston Street.

SoHo serves as one of Manhattan’s hottest shopping districts, and after a long day of perusing boutiques, there’s a wealth of cozy watering holes to explore as well. On the edge of 6th Avenue, Lupe’s East LA Kitchen is a top spot for classic West Coast Mexican dishes like chicken mole and shrimp chipotle burritos, while The Dutch has been a local favorite for over a decade thanks to their hearty American fare and can’t-miss weekend brunch. After a meal, guests can swing by Milady’s to find a spectacular roster of cocktails like the Caribbean rum-heavy Banana Stand, while for beer aficionados in particular, Torch & Crown Brewing Company’s original location is located in the heart of the district, providing guests with an opportunity to sample their flagship Almost Famous NEIPA straight from the source.

NoMad

Madison Square Park was opened on May 10th, 1847.

In spite of its small stature, NoMad offers a massive array of top-tier drinking and dining destinations both on and off of Broadway. Those in search of hearty Mediterranean dining need look no further than ilili Restaurant, one of the city’s top spots for elevated Lebanese cuisine. While the venue excels at traditional dishes like lamb shawarma and beef fried kibbeh, guests can also enjoy hearty fusion fare like the American Lebanese burger, a spin on the classic dish that’s loaded with pickled cucumber and onion. For the totally meat-averse, neighboring Planta Queen has been a favorite in recent years thanks to their all-vegan menu featuring the iconic Bang Bang Broccoli—and when it comes to cocktails, few destinations can compare to Apotheke, a sophisticated space that’s home to some of the finest cocktails in all of Midtown.

East Village

The East Village is home to a large concentration of New York’s community gardens.

Renowned for its high concentration of German immigrants during the late 1800s, Manhattan’s East Village has morphed into one of the city’s hottest nightlife destinations in the modern era. For a truly memorable night across the neighborhood, swing by the ultra-cozy Huertas to dine on tinned fish paired with Basque-style tapas, then head just one block north to find Bar Lula, a polished venue that masterfully marries flavorful Mexican fare with French culinary techniques. Guests can snag top-tier charred shrimp, roasted octopus, and cotija-loaded hominy risotto, while the massive mezcal selection is a particular menu highlight—and to end the night on a high note, be sure to check out SuperBueno, a colorful Mexican cocktail bar that makes a killer mushroom margarita.

Central Harlem

Harlem is named after a prominent Dutch city in the province of North Holland.

A hub for Black American culture for decades on end, Harlem has served as a major influence for contemporary music, art, and literature since the mid-1900s—and today, the neighborhood’s rich legacy extends into gastronomy as well, with no shortage of incredible restaurants for visitors to discover. Best known for its decadent soul food scene, guests can sample classics like shrimp and grits, fried catfish, and chicken and waffles at time-honored venues like Amy Ruth’s, but that’s not all that the neighborhood has to offer. Harlem’s Black diaspora has given rise to a wealth of top-tier West African restaurants as well, inviting visitors to head to Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant for incredible vegan dishes like spicy ye misir wat or tikil gomen, while Chez Jacob is a must-visit for dibi, nem, and other classic Senegalese dishes.

Financial District

The Financial District’s iconic Charging Bull statue was installed in 1989.

Located at the southernmost tip of New York County, the Financial District serves as the beating heart of the nation’s economy—and all of that cash flow has fostered a pretty spectacular dining scene, with La Marchande perfectly exemplifying the splendor of the surrounding neighborhood. Located in the Wall Street Hotel, this opulent restaurant is a paradise for fine French dining, offering succulent oysters gratinèed, roasted chicken, and a truly incredible brioche pull apart all served alongside a massive array of French wine and vermouth. For a more casual experience, visitors can head to Cedar Local for an incredible Royale with Cheese paired with a classic cocktail, and when it comes to paninis, there’s no beating Pisillo, a pint-sized shop that’s mastered the art of the decadent Italian sandwich.

Theater District

Times Square saw its first official ball drop on December 31st, 1907.

While Times Square serves as the Theater District’s main attraction (for tourists, at least), there’s a wide array of sophisticated restaurants just a few steps away from New York’s most famous ad space. For a particularly glamorous night on the town, the massive Madame George offers a huge array of top-tier concoctions ranging from classic New York City staples to avant-garde creations—and once dinnertime rolls around, it’s tough to find a more glamorous spot than 53. A paradise for elevated pan-Asian fare, this polished venue is home to high-end dishes like lobster rice and Singapore-style Hainanese chicken, with the clay pot black cod being a particular menu highlight. And for any diners that prefer to stick close to their accommodations, the CIVILIAN Hotel is equipped with a wealth of dining options to explore just steps away from your room, with destinations ranging from the plant-filled Starchild rooftop lounge to Rosevale Kitchen, a convivial space that makes a stellar steak tartare.

Roosevelt Island

The Roosevelt Island Tramway was opened in 1976.

An oft-overlooked destination for visitors to Manhattan, the pint-sized Roosevelt Island measures in at just 0.6 square kilometers—but this tiny sliver of land is home to some incredible drinking and dining destinations. While casual venues range from ME Mediterranean Eatery to the cozy Irish-inspired Granny Annie’s Bar & Kitchen, Panorama Room offers a particularly upscale experience that’s impossible to find elsewhere on the island. Housed within the 18th floor of the Graduate New York, this polished venue is the hottest nightlife destination to grace the streets of Roosevelt Island, offering gorgeous 360-degree views and high-end craft cocktails during evening hours as well as an incredible brunch program throughout the weekend.

Have you ever stopped to ponder the extremely New York phenomenon of spontaneously running into anyone and everyone you’ve never wanted to, while needing to plan 80 months out to see the people that you do like? It’s basically a running joke that every time I do run into someone I’m friends with, we whip out our calendars and tick through six weeks of conflicts before we can settle on one off-the-cuff coffee date. So it was a total delight that last weekend I had the chance to somewhat spontaneously meet up with two dear friends for dessert in Little Italy, catching up over late-night cappuccinos, hot chocolate and cake before heading off on our respective weekend MTA odysseys. There’s something distinctly magical about the unplanned hang, and even though I sometimes believe our fair city conspires against us, it is possible!! See you out there!! 

🍀 sláinte, new york!!
If there’s one thing putting together a list of Hell’s Kitchen-based movies taught me, it was that Midtown and HK have an indelible link to Irish-American history and to St Patrick’s Day!! Celebrate locally with:

🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀

🎉 a jaunt up 5th Ave
There’s a bit of family lore around the time my uncle, father, brother and cousin accidentally got swept into the Boston St Patrick’s Day Parade sometime in the mid-90s. While in almost any other circumstance they would have been not-so-politely directed out of the route, my delightfully  Irish uncle’s lime-green Oldsmobile fooled officials into thinking they were a part of the festivities and they rode along for a few blocks and waved to everyone. Look out for them at this year’s New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade on Friday March 17 at 5th Ave and W44th Street. 

🎶 lend us some tenors 
Celebrating 25 years of song, Anthony Kearns, Ronan Tynan and Declan Kelly — otherwise known as The Irish Tenors, play Town Hall on Friday, March 17 in an evening of soothing songs and a bit of humor to warm the heart! 

🎨 reclaim paddy
Dublin-based photographer Ross O’Callaghan has spent the past 10 years photographing and documenting the lives of 50 men named Paddy — spanning age, religion, sexuality, background — in an effort to subvert the preconceived notions around the term commonly used as a slur for Irish-Americans in late 19th and early 20th-century America. A selection of works from the Paddy Irishman Project is showing in an outdoor exhibit at Pershing Square opposite Grand Central Terminal now through Wednesday March 22.

🎶 festival on 11th ave
Join the crew at the Irish Arts Center for a free open house festival Sunday March 19 of “all-day traditional music and dance, live piano karaoke sing-alongs of Ireland and Irish-America’s greatest hits, a performance and group lesson by World Irish Dance Champion Tyler Shwartz, spring equinox-inspired arts and crafts” and the premiere of short film series Tann Ann (Gaelic for “Once Upon A Time”). 

🍻 grab a pint
There is no shortage of lounges and pubs where you can raise a proper pint in Hell’s Kitchen — including Rosevale Kitchen + Cocktail Room (offering its own St Patrick’s Day-themed Irish Coffee mixology experience all weekend) and of course, our Hell’s Kitchen go-tos for Guinness, live music and livelier celebration, The Mean FiddlerThe Landmark TavernMercury Bar WestGossipHibernia and McQuaids — all of whom are certain to provide a perfect St Patrick’s Day party.  Oh — and at Scruffy Duffy’s they’re doing a 20oz pint of Guinness for $7 all month (for those who complain a New York pint is too small and too expensive).

🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀

👯 learn from the best 
Celebrate Women’s History Month and achievements in dance by taking a masterclass with Francesca Harper at Ailey Extension this Saturday March 18, where the well-known dancer and choreographer will lead students through the Forsythe improvisation technique and “encourage dancers to prioritize their creative thinking and to find pleasure in their movement”! 

🌳 a walk in the park
Learn about the forgotten women who helped develop the legacy of Central Park, along with developments on the current campaign to include more female monuments, at the green space’s Hidden History walking tour Saturday March 18. 

🎭 nothing but nostalgia
Embarrassing home movies, friendship, family, grief — Kayla Engeman tackles it all in I Need a Hero, her one-woman, one-day show playing the United Solo Theatre Festival at Theatre Row Wednesday March 22. 

🎤 make ‘em laugh
Our friends at Cafe 424 and Prime Produce present an evening of tasty refreshments and stand up performances by Princess Gibbs, Samantha Santos, Andre Myrie, Nate Marshall and DC Williams, hosted by Kevin Sanchez at the Mangu & Oxtail Comedy Nite Saturday March 25! 

🎶 i love a piano
Carnegie Hall hosts award-winning Canadian new-classical composer and pianist Steve Barakatt in his New York City debut Saturday March 18, where he’ll play through selections from his large body of work, including THE UNICEF Anthem, which premiered on the International Space Station in 2009. 

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👯 40 shades of green
Party in Long Island City at the 40 Shades of Green: St Patrick’s Day Gathering Friday March 17 where you can enjoy a plethora of Irish performers, including Irish step dance from Darrah Carr Dance and the McManus School of Irish Dance. You know they are going to kick ass!!! 

🎮 gamer girls!!
Head uptown to the North End food Hall for a video-game-themed Women’s History Month celebration this Saturday March 18 where you can enjoy food, video games, a Mario Kart tournament, DJ-spun tunes and a panel with industry experts like Video Game Amateur’s content strategist Jess Morales; Aziza Brown, founder of the Dynamik Focus esports team; Mia ‘NerdyNursey’ Norman-Owens, twitch streamer with a focus on esports health; Rurouni Aly, cosplayer and anime enthusiast; and Anya Combs, former Director of Games at Kickstarter. 

🍸 the legend of bloody mary
Confession: I’m not a huge Bloody Mary fan. Plz don’t cancel me!!!!!! BUT I know lots and lots of people are fans of the brunch cocktail favorite so I am still shouting out the New York City Bloody Mary Festival this Saturday March 18 at City Point in Brooklyn. Enjoy savory varietals and snacks from multiple local bars, temporary tattoos and the chance to vote for The People’s Choice Award for the city’s best Bloody Mary. Out of fairness, I will abstain. 

🛍️ secure the bag
I truly cannot tell you the chokehold the Herschel backpack has had over me since the early 2010s. These babies are stylish and sturdy!!! Why not pick one up for yourself at the Herschel Supply warehouse sale at Chelsea Market opening Friday March 17

🎯P-A-T-R-I-C-K
If you’re looking to bring some stakes to your St Patrick’s Day celebration — please don’t add them in the form of too many shots. Try St Patrick’s-themed Bingo at The Standard Sunday March 19 instead!!! And yes, you can still do shots there. I should know!

🔥 Hot tip 
We got the chance to take an exclusive, sneak-peek tour of the very cool, very new Manhattan Neighborhood Network studios, where you can not only apply to produce your own TV show through their public access channels (who needs an agent!!!!!) but also take classes on their top-of-the-line equipment that includes cutting edge tech like green-screen motion capture, a full network control center and the latest, greatest podcasting tools. I really could have used their guidance when I produced a few er, low-budget arthouse films that I tortured my family with in the 1990s. 

Green Screen MNN

Adding to your radar for “best Lobster Rolls in NYC” this year is Rosevale Kitchen at the Civilian Hotel in Hell’s Kitchen. Every Tuesday in June there will be a special Lobster Roll (plus the classic remaining on the menu all summer).

The line up: June 20 – The BLT, Shredded Iceberg, Crispy Bacon, Cherry Tomatoes, Mayo June 27 – The Avocado, Chipotle Crema, Avocado, Red Onion, Cilantro 

Just opened in November 2022, Rosevale Kitchen brings a modern interpretation of a classic New York eatery. A quintessential American restaurant Inspired by the city that never sleeps, Rosevale Kitchen, which takes its name from Rosevale, the historic Hopper family farmhouse notable for its extensive gardens, is an homage to New York City’s diverse culinary culture.

Steps away from Broadway, the architecture features a curved, ribbed leather ceiling and mirror panels accented by red leather banquettes and brass accents giving off a brasserie feel. Designed by renowned architecture and design firm Rockwell Group, Rosevale Kitchen and Cocktail Bar pays homage to its proximity to Broadway. The bright dining room is adorned with round sconces engraved with theater façade sketches by prominent set designers and black and white photography by Bruce Glikas leaning against the wall in casual and layered displays.

Address: 305 W 48th

Greenery abounds on 93rd and Madison Avenue. Photo: JH.

SOCIAL DIARY• BY: DAVID PATRICK COLUMBIA

Thursday, June 28, 2023. A bright sunny day, all day, yesterday in New York. The temps reached up to almost 80 and there was no sense of humidity. Yippee. The weatherman’s been telling us for days now that we’re gonna have a big storm. Not that I think he’s making it up, and there has been rain around the country if you look at the weather maps, but. We did have three or four moments yesterday — and with the Sun still out — when there were a few spots of a few drops on my little black Mini convertible (2009), but that was it. Until …

The beginning stages of my little garden terrace.

In the meantime I’m thinking gardens. A little garden on my little terrace. Now in the works (takes me a few days to get it all together). If you’ve been reading us for awhile you’ve seen the same story in the years before. It’s a tiny plot as the photos explain. 

Some years I’ve just about covered the entire floor of the little plot. But that’s too much, making it more difficult for me to go out on my terrace and watch the street, the dogs, the families, the neighbors, the runners, the wheel chairs, the cars, the ambulances, and fire trucks, and police cars. I don’t see much action in those categories but even the gait of the individuals is interesting to me wondering what that tells me about the personality of the passerby.

And then there’s the gardens. In this neighborhood many buildings have potted gardens surrounding the trees in front of them. Some are quite beautiful, others are modest, but all are good for the eyes and the spirit, no matter how meek.

My mother always had a flower garden when I was growing up. She also had a vegetable garden which was large which she worked and labored over. Neighborhood vegetable gardens were very common. But her flower garden was clearly her gem. I can still see her on a Sunday afternoon, after church and lunch, still dressed for the day, standing looking over the flowers, her hands behind her back simply enjoying her hand in creation of Nature’s beauty.


And she wasn’t the only mom in the neighborhood tending to her garden.

I didn’t know that back when I was a kid. Instead I was probably wondering: “What is she looking at but the same old flowers.” Time, child; it takes time.

Now I always look at gardens, no matter their size or layouts. Simply for the beauty it affirms for me. Then of course, I’m old enough to have learned that all kinds of creative thinking goes into any of those plots, tiny or enormous. Because, as it was with my ma, they are the music of Nature’s beauty.


A window box in the nabe.

Speaking of Nature’s beauty and the fragrance that it brings, a bevy of New Yorkers arrived in London for the season and — in between Ascot, Wimbledon, Henley and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition — they found time to support their friends philanthropist Shining Sung and designer Marc Rosen.

The new Formosa fragrance at Fenwick Bond Street, London.

After successfully launching her new fragrance ‘Formosa’ in Bergdorf Goodman in February (you read about it here), Shining has now premiered the fragrance in Fenwick Bond Street. During an afternoon high tea, she introduced Formosa as a ‘love letter to Taiwan’ and a fragrance that extols the beauty and harmony of this verdant island.

Marc Rosen — who’s won 7 FiFi awards, which are essentially the Oscars of the perfume industry — designed the unique bottle. The presentation of the fragrance in a sleek crystal clear half-moon slice of heavy glass with a faux carved green jade ball closure, explained Marc, “I don’t think there has ever been a fragrance where the ingredients are indigenous to a country.”

New York guests such as Susan Gutfreund, Ruth Berman, Katherine Bryan, Kathy Sloane, Elizabeth Kabler, Peter Psaras, Christine McCarthy and Evan Sung mingled with His Excellency Representative Hsieh and his wife Linda, Dame Joan Collins and Percy Gibson, Lady Lena Bone, Sybil Kretzmer, Victoria Haggerty, Vivienne Becker, Carolyn Druion, Jenny Gucci, Tara Ferry, Sirkka Sanderson, Krishna and Virinda Choudhary, May Tang, Joanna Broughton, Jo Fairley, Marianne Rousditer-Smith, Tikka Sing and Sallie Berkerey.

www.formosafragrance.com


Shining Sung with her son, Evan Sung.
Sybil Kretzmer, Marc Rosen, and Christine McCarthy.
Shining Sung with Dr. Hidekazu Kurebayashi and Mrs. Shoko Kurebayashi.
Lady Lena Bone, Shining Sung, Kathy Sloane, Susan Gutfreund, and Katherine Bryan.
Shining Sung with His Excellency Representative Hsieh and Madam Linda Hsieh.
Carolyn Druion with Perry Field.
HE Representative Hsieh, Sybil Kretzmer, Shining Sung, and Madam Hsieh.
Percy Gibson and Marc Rosen.
Dame Joan Collins with the Formosa fragrance.
Janine Roxborough Bunce and Esha Agarwal.
Christine McCarthy, Vesa Kalho, and Percy Gibson.
Victoria Haggerty and Ruth Berman.
Jenny Gucci, Peter Psaras, and Elizabeth Kabler.

More garden gab. The Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation held its first charity Garden Tour bringing in much needed funds for the rescues in their care. Private gardens were opened to the public all for a great cause.

The inaugural event was chaired by Sandra McConnell, with Lyn Hamer, Rebecca Williams, and Tish Rehill as Co-Chairs. The Host Committee included Suzanne Ainslie, Lisa Arnold, Alixandra Baker, Debbie Bancroft, Rosalie Brinton, Paula Butler, Laurie Carson, Beatty Cramer, Laura Danforth, Tim and Susan Davis, Linda Fraser, Heidi Greene, Ann Grimm, Peter Hallock, Thea Hattrick, Ellen Irving, Maggie Kirkbride, Jean Little, Kevin Maple, Howard Marton, Kathy McMullen, Christl Meszkat, Gloria Meyers, Marion Piro, Francesca Reigler, Silvia Robinson, Ellen Scarborough, Nancy Stone, Mary Lou Swift, Lorraine Vidal, Cindy Willis, Ann Yawney.


Max enjoying the view.

There were close to 200 people in attendance including, Elizabeth Robertson, Greg D’Elia, Nancy Stone, Jean Shafiroff, Laura Wynne, and Ann Yawney.  The crowning jewel of the event were the rescue dogs of SASF who pranced around the expansive lawn at the cocktail reception to the musical delight of Joshua Brussell.

The event sponsors got a huge round of “a-paws,” including Hampton Picnic Co, Vegan Muse, Canoe Place, Sant Ambroeus, The Kevin Maple Salon, Peter Hallock & Craig Mowry, Rebecca & Owen Williams, Mr. & Mrs. Gruss, Sandra McConnell, Stinchi Landscaping, Corcoran of Southampton, Alixandra C. Baker and the Baker Charitable Fund and Boxed Water for keeping all the guests and pets hydrated.




The Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is supported exclusively by donations and grants from the community. From caring and finding homes for stray and abandoned animals to providing low-cost veterinary care and dog training so that animals can remain in their homes, the shelter has become a vital resource in our community.








And don’t forget! The Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation’s 14th Annual Unconditional Love Gala is returning to the Hamptons and will take place on Saturday, July 22nd, 2023, at The Muses in Southampton, NY. The grand soiree will be one of the highlights of this summer season out east and has been the most important fundraiser for the shelter for over a decade.

For more information and Tickets, click here.


A little further out East, the East Hampton Historical Society will be hosting their East Hampton Antiques & Design Show on the grounds of Mulford Farm, on Saturday, July 15, through Sunday, July 16. Now in its seventeenth year, the East Hampton Antiques & Design Show is widely recognized as the premier antiques and design event on Eastern Long Island and a highlight of the East Hampton arts and social calendar.


Preview Cocktail Party for the East Hampton Antiques & Design Show — Mulford Farm, East Hampton.

Liz Lange, American fashion designer, entrepreneur, author, and podcast host, is the Honorary Chairperson of the Friday, July 14, Preview Cocktail Party, which offers patrons an early buying opportunity of the extraordinary array of antiques, jewelry, textiles, collectibles, and timelessly chic furniture and accessories. Ticket proceeds from the Preview Cocktail benefit the East Hampton Historical Society.

“As the current owner of the treasured and iconic Grey Gardens,”  said Ms. Lange, “the historical structures of East Hampton are near and dear to my heart. The buildings that the East Hampton Historical Society maintains are vital and make up the composition of one of the loveliest and best-planned villages in America.”

Both the Preview Cocktail Party and the Antiques & Design Show take place on the bucolic grounds of the Mulford Farm, located on James Lane in the heart of East Hampton Village. Maintained by the East Hampton Historical Society, this 3.5-acre property features a restored 17th-century farmhouse as well as several barns and outbuildings that are among the oldest on Long Island.

Tickets for the Friday night VIP Preview Cocktail Party start at $250 per person and include return visits over the weekend. For tickets, call the East Hampton Historical Society at 631-324-6850 Ext. 1, or e-mail at info@easthamptonhistory.org

Advance tickets for the Antiques & Design Show cost $15.

Tickets can be purchased online by visiting the Events page on the East Hampton Historical Society’s website at www.easthamptonhistory.org.


Bunny Mellon certainly knew a thing or two about gardens. We just heard from our friends at the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA) that they are now accepting submissions for the 2023 Bunny Mellon Landscape Design Prize, which recognizes the excellence and creativity of projects from emerging landscape or architectural design professionals whose work is inspired by classical or traditional design. This Prize is presented annually as part of the ICAA’s Bunny Mellon Landscape Curricula.

There is one Bunny Mellon Garden Design Prize awarded each year to the emerging professional for a singular project that best meets the prize’s criteria. So, if you’ve got anyone in mind, and would like to submit a nomination (submissions should feature a completed or nearly completed garden), send an email to education@classicist.org by August 1st, 2023.

The winner will receive a $1,500 dollar cash prize and will be recognized at the 2024 Garden Symposium, announced on the ICAA’s social media, website, and other external media, publications, and promotional materials to be determined. The runner-up will receive the recognition of “Highly Commended” from the jury as they see fit. Not too shabby-chic, eh?


“Whimsy Farm,” designed by Bunny Mellon Garden Design Prize winner 2022 Justin Willard for Hollander Design | Landscape Architects (Photo: Neil Landino, Jr.)

A Secret Garden. And last week back in little ol’ Manhattan, the CIVILIAN hotel (305 W 48th Street) opened up  a Secret Garden at Rosevale Kitchen, a new public space on the ground floor of the hotel.

There was live music in the garden and a selection of light bites + craft cocktails from Rosevale Kitchen all tucked away “in paradise.”

Designed by David Rockwell + Rockwell Group and helmed by Carver Road Hospitality, Rosevale Kitchen + Cocktail Lounge is a modern interpretation of a classic Theater District diner in both design and its upscale American bistro menu. The Secret Garden will be a sanctuary to escape the bustling city of New York in the courtyard of the restaurant, allowing guests space to relax outdoors and surround themselves with greenery. Ah-eh-ee-oh-uu …


HELL’S KITCHEN, Manhattan (PIX11) — In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, a new Irish coffee has gone viral on social media — and New Yorkers can try it out in person.

All you have to do is head over to Rosvale Kitchen + Cocktail Room in Hell’s Kitchen.

The drink takes about 10 minutes to make and it is built right in front of you, taking you on a flavorful journey.

PIX11’s Michelle Ross has more in the video player.

Our new favorite Hell’s Kitchen Spot

Hell’s Kitchen is known for it’s nightlife experiences, whether it be going to their unique restaurant and bars to their late night clubbing experiences.  And we had the privilege to dine at one of the newest restaurants and cocktail bars at Rosevale Kitchen.  As you enter Rosevale Kitchen, you are met with a modern American interior, adorned with decorations that have a very vintage feel.  The overall design and ambiance feels like if a classic American restaurant and bar was elevated and modernized while still maintain the old style charm.  The dinner menu itself has American dining classics with both seafood and red meat options with a few dishes having some Asian inspiration to it.  The cocktail menu has a lot of variety, but draws inspiration from classic cocktails like bellinis, margaritas, paper airplanes, and negronis.

For our cocktails, we tried the Very Large Airplane and the Spicy Encounter.  The Spicy Encounter was made with Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila, Ancho Reyes Verde, Passionfruit, Lime, Agave, and a Mezcal Float, being rimmed with a Spicy Worm Salt.  This drink was delicious and reminded us of a fruit forward margarita. Upon first sip, you get the flavors of passionfruit and agave with a small note of heat from the ancho reyes that warms your palate.  As you let the drink it on your palate, you then get the brightness from the lime with a hint of smoke from the mezcal which helps refresh your palate for the next sip.  The spicy worm salt was a wonderful touch that gave a little bit more balance and helped deepen the flavors of the drink, especially lending itself to the brightness and smokiness aspects of the drink.  For the Very Large Airplane, this was made with Japanese Gin, Aperol, Amaro, Lemon, White Strawberry.  So instead of the usual bourbon in a Paper Airplane drink, they opted for a Japanese Gin which would provide a bit more hebaciousness to the cocktail instead of the oaky flavors from the bourbon.  And it plays well with the bitterness from the Amaro and Aperol too.  But at the very end of the sip, we got the playful sweetness mixed with a hint of acidity and brightness from the white strawberry and the lemon.

For the starting course, we tried the Caesar salad and the Shrimp Cocktail.  The Caesar Salad was done with the classic romaine lettuce, parmesan, and croutons fixture.  The greens were fresh and crisp which helped balance out the heavier parts from the dressing.  The dressing itself was actually not in the classic Caesar dressing style where it incorporated components of anchovies and creamy egg yolk in it.  Instead the creaminess was substituted for a lighter rendition and lent itself to the freshness of the salad.  Instead the salty component came from the parmesan in little bits.  A big highlight for this dish was the croutons were they were crisp, light, fluffy, and had a hint of sweetness to it which was a delightful surprise that provided a lot of balance to the dish.  For the Shrimp Cocktail, it was served with a Horseradish Cocktail Sauce and a wedge of lemon.  The Shrimp were immaculate, being so plump and juicy and bursting with sweetness.  The cocktail sauce was a great pairing where there was the classic sharpness and tanginess from the horseradish but ended with a sweet acidity that lent itself well to the shrimp.

For our mains we opted for the Orange Duck and their Fish Of The Moment special.  The Orange Duck is a Rohan Breast cooked with Pho Spices and a duck jus.  The duck was cooked nicely with a beautiful sear on it.  The sear lent itself for a wonderful bite with a crispy texture and the duck meat soaked up the sweetness from the duck jus that added depth of flavor and brightened up the fish.  The duck was served atop a bed of vegetables that absorbed a lot of the flavors from the jus and allowed for the perfect marriage between the duck and the vegetables.

For the seafood special, it was a Blackened Sea Bass with a chili white wine sauce served with spring greens.  This fish special was absolutely delicious and hopefully they make it a permanent option on the menu because it was that good.  The fish was so flakey but incredibly moist and tender to the point where it melts in your mouth.  The sea bass has a delicate flavor to it that lingers on your palate and pairs perfectly with the white wine sauce.  The sauce itself had a little bit of heat to it but not enough to overpower the flavors in the fish.

And to round out our meal, we had both the Brown Butter Blondie and the Cheesecake Panna Cotta for dessert.  The Blondie was made with Macadamia Nuts, White Chocolate Chunks, and paired with a Milk Chocolate Gelato.  This blondie was definitely one of the best we have ever had with a perfectly crisp exterior while still being moist and delicate on the inside.  Each bite had such a decadent feel and flavor to it and the white chocolate chips provide a very airy and light sweetness to the dessert.  The nuts give such great texture to the dish and paired with the gelato added a refreshing sweetness to you palate.

For the Panna Cotta, that was paired with a Graham Cracker Crumb on top.  The panna cotta was fluffy and airy with a perfect bounce to it.  The cheesecake flavor had the perfect balance of savory and sweet to it and the crumble that sat on top gave a beautiful addition of texture to the dish where in other situations a panna cotta would be one note with texture.

Once we finished our meal, our night was not over.  Sitting on the next level up from Rosevale Kitchen is the Rosevale Cocktail Room.  The setting is dark and moody with a very intimate feel. The décor draws the eye all around with room where you can find intricate dioramas displayed at every inch all the way up to the 15 ft ceilings. The finishings on the room add an elegant feel to the room and it resembles the style of an upscale speakeasy without having the pretentiousness of memorizing a password or knowing to walk through a refrigerator like some of the current NYC speakeasies do.  And during the summer, the Rosevale Cocktail Room will finally open up its balcony section so you can enjoy some of their delicious craft cocktail while basking in the sun.

If you have been on cocktail TikTok, you might know the Rosevale Cocktail Room based on this drink we ordered.  Called the Rosevale Irish Coffee, this is Rosevale’s take on an Irish Coffee with some elevated twists on it.  This order is served for two and is made with Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, Apple Brandy, Illy Coffee, Cider Donut Cream, and topped with Cacao.  The present this drink is a two chamber diffuser of sorts.  On the bottom chamber is the whiskey and brandy and in the top are an arrangement of spices and ingredients like black tea, star anise, cardamom, and orange slices.  The server will place a flame directly below the bottom chamber and slowly the alcohol will flow from the bottom chamber to the stop and steep in the spices and ingredients.  Once all the alcohol has been transferred to the top, the flame is taken away and the liquid slowly falls back down to the bottom chamber.  That liquid is poured into your glass where the server then pours a decadent cider donut cold foam on top.  The last, and some would say the most important step, is that a 5 lb Hershey’s Kiss is brought to you and they shave the cacao from the kiss on top of the drink.

The drink upon first sip has such an intense depth of flavor from the black tea, star anise, and cardamom that almost wakes your entire palate up.  As you keep sipping, your mouth is enveloped by the creaminess from the drink and the cold foam.  The drink is obviously very spirit forward so sipping slowly and occasionally will help with both savoring every flavor that is in this drink while also not having you feel light headed in the end.

Our lasting impression of both the Rosevale Kitchen and Rosevale Cocktail Room is that these two spots are some of the best dining and drinking locations in Hell’s Kitchen.  The food in the kitchen was simple and familiar but had classic and clean flavors where it would be hard not to enjoy it.  The cocktails in the kitchen also pair amazingly well with the food and we love their elevated takes on classic cocktails.  For the Cocktail Room, this is something we will be stopping by for again.  Whether it’s a date night or a night out with friends, the Rosevale Cocktail Room will meet all your needs and give you some of the best cocktails in Hell’s Kitchen.

Here are a few place in NYC that are excited to host Kentucky Derby-themed happenings and specials in celebration of the races.

Refinery Rooftop

It’s time to grab your seersucker blazers, floral dresses, bright pastels, and wide-brimmed hats as the Refinery Rooftop saddles up with its annual Kentucky Derby Party viewing party

Kentucky Derby NYC 2023 Parties

On Saturday, May 6th (3:30 pm – 7:00 pm ET), attendees can channel their Derby-est look and join in on the following:

  • Open bar
  • Passed appetizers and desserts
  • Live entertainment and streaming of the Derby
  • A contest for the best dressed Derby outfit

The highly-anticipated event also features a signature cocktail created specifically for this event, live DJ’s and music, and hours of Derby fun. 

Civilian Hotel

Celebrate the Kentucky Derby on May 6th in your best derby attire at Starchild Rooftop and Rosevale Kitchen and Cocktail Room located at the Civilian Hotel in Hell’s Kitchen. Mint Juleps, shareable cocktails and food specials will be available beginning at 5pm at Starchild Rooftop and from 9pm-11pm as well as Live Jazz at Rosevale Kitchen.

Kentucky Derby NYC 2023 Parties
Kentucky Derby NYC 2023 Parties

ROOF at Park South

ROOF at Park South has recently opened for the season and will host a Derby Soirée this Saturday, May 6th, to celebrate the Kentucky Derby in style. 

This event will be a partnership between the rooftop, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, and Herradura Tequila, providing guests with a selection of delicious beverages, including the classic julep. In addition to the delicious drinks, there will also be Derby-inspired bites and exciting giveaways, including gift cards to Sweetbriar, the sister restaurant. To top it off, the rooftop will host a friendly competition for the best dress outfit, so be sure to inform your reader to wear their best hats and seersucker fits!

The event will run from 4 pm to 8 pm, and tickets are available on Resy for $55.

The Bar at Moynihan Food Hall

Guests can sit back with an Old Forester Mint Julep in their own souvenir cup and watch the big race on The Bar at Moynihan Food Hall giant screens. Pair the Mint Juleps with some delicious Loaded Fries from Jacob’s Pickles and you’re celebrating the Derby like a real Southerner. DJ’s keep the party going all day and night.