Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sip Scotch and Sail

I tend to be wary of booze cruises. There can nothing worse than being stranded on a boat for hours, surrounded by drunk people as provisions dwindle, waters chop, stomachs turn and restrooms fail. But since there was a promising forecast and the fun folks at Bowmore were in charge, last Saturday's Sip Scotch and Sail event with sounded like a great time. We couldn't have asked for a lovelier summer's day to be on the water with this fine city as a back drop, and great time it definitely was.

While most of last week NYC was covered with thick, gray clouds, the ones in the sky this day looked as though they were personally fluffed by giants. Utterly magical.

Our captain at the wheel. He found volunteers on board to help his small crew raise the huge sails that allowed for a steadier cruise.

A cheers to New York City with a glass of punch, made with Bowmore Legend, from a recipe created by cocktail historian David Wondrich.

Lady liberty in the distance among the fluffy clouds. 

Campari America Whisky Brand Manager Robin Coupar tossing messages in a Bowmore bottle. (Photo courtesy Gabi Porter and

After an hour and a half of strong sunshine, oysters and Scotchy goodness we docked once again at Pier 17 and headed on foot to Demi Monde bar where the festivities continued down below.

There we were treated to Bowmore Rob Roys and a refreshing, minty Scotch cocktail by beverage director Alex Day, as well as yummy treats from the kitchen (I especially liked the sweet and salty steelhead trout and wasabi nougat bite.) We also tasted through the Bowmore line, including one of my Top 10 favorite Scotches - the Bowmore 18 Year (ever complex and the perfect balance of sweetness, smoke and brine) - as well as the fine and distinguished Bowmore 25 Year.

Steph and me at Demi Monde (photo courtesy of Gabi Porter and

Robin and Whisk(e)y gal Nicola Riske of Edrington Group (photo courtesy of Gabi Porter and

Head bartender Scott James Teague and Alex Day (Photo courtesy of Gabi Porter and

A brief pitstop to Adrienne's Pizza Bar after the event. Then a short train ride to Clark Street made it possible to take in the view from the other side of the harbor, just as the sun had set. Nothing better than a breezy, Saturday evening stroll (and a cool shower, sorry, no photo included) after a long day of sun and fun.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Traditions

The subject of the The Cloisters came up at dinner a couple of weeks ago, as these things do. I realized it had been a tragically long time since I'd made the trip up there on my own, something I used to do often, especially when I felt off balance. There's something about the surroundings, the gorgeous Medieval art and the healing gardens that press my RESET button. It was the day before my 40s truly begin (just as the year 2000 was a practice run for the real Millenium, I say I'm not really 40 till I'm 41), and according to the forecast, the last day of mild weather for the foreseeable future. Best to make the most of it and get my ass on that A train. 

I took a different approach than I normally do, hiking up the hill where Fort Tryon Park starts on Broadway. I'd packed a picnic lunch (ham, arugula and hot tomato chutney sandwich, carrots and cherries) and stopped here to eat it. Some schleps are very satisfying. Dig the view!

And there she is!

My favorite items in the collection are those that are painstakingly carved and etched with the minutest and clearest of details. In most cases, all from a single piece, which leaves no room for mistakes. The things people spent their time on before the modern age, and with only natural and candle lighting! I am in awe.

Metal etching. This item is way smaller than it seems here, photo not nearly doing it justice.

The inscription on this covered 14th century chalice reads in Latin, "He who shall drink from me shall ever be happy." I'd love to find out if it's true. Can think of many things I'd like to put in it to try.

I love the trend of carving beasts at the foot of tombs. The ones below (as opposed to the ones the knight's feet rest on above) are supposed to stand guard. But I find them very sweet. 

Another beastie. Reminds me of Bruce. 

A very regal camel.

Love all the tranquil courtyards among the twists and turns.

This one is entirely surrounded by detailed columns such as this, all carved with different figures and allegorical signification.

I want a sink like this in my next house.

This fountain will do nicely as well.

Feed me, Seymour! (Ain't it cute?)

Sure, I could have spent Tuesday at home, writing, being generally productive. But this little staycation trip felt like even more of an accomplishment. I think I should make a point of coming here at least once a year. It might as well be June 19th, right? Make it a pre-birthday tradition. Great way to focus on the new year ahead for me, while looking back in time at some of my favorite things.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Reason It's a Cliché Is Because It's True

That title is taken from one of my all-time favorite Lloyd Cole lyrics, from the song "A Long Way Down." Tuesday night I had the pleasure of seeing him perform an acoustic set at Bowery Electric.  I went alone, on a rainy night. Hoping for the distraction that it was. There are just some nights that seem on the precipice of something, and this was one of them.

You see, things haven't been going so well. Sporadic work at best. Promising interviews and balls in the air that turn into meteorites, hitting the earth with a fiery crash. A great guy who it turns out was only a mirage like so many others, just took a while longer to fade into the horizon. And then a big health scare, which I would know more about the next day.

Turns out, I'm OK. Although let's just say that I'm feeling slightly guilty about all the times my friend Dennis and I joked that our favorite Lifetime movie that never got made is "Happy Birthday Cancer." But all's good. Or at least, it seems it will be. All's relieved. Very relieved. 

This is why I tip well, folks. 

But enough about me. So Bowery Electric on a rainy Tuesday night...

Dave Derby, a former bandmate from a Lloyd Cole one-off outfit called The Negatives opened. Huge surprise, Jill Sobule, another member of the band, came to see the gig. So they played a couple of songs together. 

Then a handsome young lad who had a very familiar look about him came onstage to tune the guitars before Mr. Cole was to take the stage. 

As easily guessed, this was William Cole, who is attending NYU and clearly had a great music teacher. Turns out he's helping Dad out on this mini-tour, playing some of the more complicated arrangements of a couple dozen songs.

Lloyd Cole is one of those British singers who sounds better as he gets older (looking at you, Richard Thompson and Robyn Hitchcock).  He sang all the important stuff, and as I heard "My Other Life," "Rattlesnakes," "Happy For You" ("Lay your head upon my shoulder/Let it rest there for a while/I guess I'm still good for something/Once in a while"), "No More Love Songs"("I gave 'er whisky/And she gave me everything"), "No Blue Skies," "Lost Weekend" and so many other well-crafted tunes, I felt a wash of calm and contentment I hadn't felt in weeks. All that needed to be happening in that moment was in that small club, and all the other shit I had no control over could go on without me for a couple of hours.

William at one point tried to work the crowd, scanning the audience and saying how great it was to perform in front of so many smiling faces. To which his dad quipped, "That's no son of mine!"

"Perfect Skin" and "Brand New Friend" rounded out the encores. In all a great way to spend a night before a day that would, to paraphrase, not be so sure. And as it turns out, way surer than anticipated.

So if they did have to make "Happy Birthday Cancer," Winona in the title role, right?