Thursday, September 29, 2016

Forty Deuce Redux: W42St Magazine Style Issue Launch Party

What would one say of a Motley's Crüe of New Yorker's filling up a studio space in the famed Garment District/Hell's Kitchen on an overcast late summer evening at the end of Fashion Week?  Some New Yorkers might say 'eh' and shuffle on being as oblivious as a classically unbothered Big Apple native. Some other inquisitive folks may be too busy looking for modern social media personalities and questionable overnight sensations.  However, both groups may miss the bigger picture.  On September 14th in the quaint tucked away confines of EZ Studios, there assembled a curated collective of models, beauty artists, clothing & jewelry designers, singers, bloggers, editors, photographers, art directors, food & alcohol vendors, stylists, artists, creative directors and writers. The bigger picture is that the attendees of this soiree make the city what it is.  What is this city?  The city is a melting pot and an enduring collective of people, talents and ideas that are consistently seeking to preserve ways for everyone all in the name of opportunity and expression.   

Before Disney, McDonald's and AMC Theaters moved in, the Hell's Kitchen area was the stuff that trip cancellations to visit New York City were made of.  Drugs, prostitution and crime seemed to illumine the area as did the seedy peep-show lights back then.  Well times change.  While many say the city has become a petri-dish for the wealthy and an overcrowded mass of frustration, gridlock, subway delays and at-capacity reservation  lists, to roll with the punches, while exhausting, speaks to the dexterity of New Yorkers.  The sense I got when perusing through the September 2016 Issue 21 of W42St Magazine was that this is New York.

Appropriately dubbed The Style Issue, W42St Magazine's September 2016 not only brought some redemptive stylish street cred back to the "wicked West Side" but the aforementioned creatives at EZ Studios that evening also helped bring the story full-circle.  See what makes neighborhoods run together are the collective contributions of all its inhabitants.  Now put that in the context of a magazine that celebrates a neighborhood.  Those creatives came together to assemble this recent Style Issue of W42St Magazine under the creative direction of Mykel C. Smith and christened the issue in the true essence of the magazine with fashion, art, music, food, drink and camaraderie.

This event to celebrate the issue was appropriately held towards the end of fashion week when everyone was seeking a chance to just deprogram and unwind.  However, the influences that keep   cool New York City neighborhoods going were not toned down.  Refreshing wines from Cloud Nine, rum from newcomer Stolen Rum offering up its deep-smoky flavor, a smooth and sinewy live R&B performance from Grammy Award-winning beauty Kendra Foster bedecked in lovely jewelry from Jane Kaye and the non-stop flavorful sounds that moved the crowd from Cloak Dagger all conspired together to make for a materialized embodiment of what this Style Issue was all about.  To add to the experience, Smith organized awesome gift bags with items from companies like the quirky Enchanted Beauty and the tech-friendly HandL to make the attendees' stomp through the city a bit more palatable.  

The W42St Magazine Style Issue followed in the spirit of its namesake which took fashion, art, deals, culture and diversity (modern Hell's Kitchen) and seemed to somehow update the sex, seediness, grit and aggression (old Hell's Kitchen) into sensuality, beauty, edginess and accessibility.  Redefining and bouncing back beautifully without missing a beat, isn't that essentially New York?

The W42St Magazine Issue 21 Style Issue is still available now at any hotel, restaurant, health/fitness club in Hell's Kitchen and at this link here.

*All Photos courtesy of Dave Mack www.fanbro.com

Thursday, September 8, 2016

More Than Just Sneakers: KICKS Movie Review

I have a not too fond memory of having to buy special orthopedic-like shoes for an injury I had in the sixth grade.  All I remember is my brother taking me to Lipkind's Shoes on Boston Road in the Bronx to look at a pair of sneakers my mom had put on hold earlier in the day.  My brother and I still laugh to this day about the look on my face after seeing the gleaming white and royal blue pair of horrific Jox that stared out at me from the shoebox coffin in the hands of what seemed like Satan himself.  This was in stark contrast to the feeling of finally copping my first pair of navy and white Nike Cortez's in the first grade or the ecstasy of the victory of landing my Dontrelle Willis Nike Dunks in an online Nike-run website a few years back.  

I think the thing about sneakers and young kids are that in a society that champions status, expression and personality, while we fight to find our voices in the aforementioned, we often use material things as initial catalysts to help ourselves be heard.  The crisp pair of Jordans to a high school kid is tantamount to the sporty convertible for the mid-aged divorcee man; he has to be heard, seen, liked, envied, championed and respected.  Such was the case for Brandon (Jahking Guillory), the protagonist in "Kicks", a new film by Justin Tipping, that examines in beautiful cinematographic detail how it's never really just about the shoes.  

The object of affection in "Kicks" are the infamous Jordan 1's.  The lonely life of 15 year old Brandon is painted as one where he often fends for himself and, unbeknownst to his visually absent hardworking mother, is one where he takes his coaching from observing life, and his bumbling two best friends.  Like many a young guy's life in the inner city, Brandon has to come to grips with his size, his popularity and his ignorances the hard ways.  So he needs new shoes and lucks out by getting his hands on a freshly swiped pair of classic Jordan 1's.  He sets off to rock them with pride and begins to see some of the benefits that box-fresh kicks can bring when the real trouble begins.  After they are stolen right off his feet by Flaco (Kofi Siriboe), a notorious local gang leader, Brandon makes it his mission to not slip back into the underbelly of the unpopular and sets off driven by anger, frustration and anxiety to get his beloved 1's back.  He enlists his two entertaining and questionably popular besties (played by Christopher Meyer and Christopher Jordan Wallace) to help him and the three of them embark on a mission all over town and gang territory to get the holy grail of footwear back.

That is what's captured so coolly and is so visually gripping with this story.  It made a scenario that can happen more easily than not in the inner city appear a tad heartwarming and very relatable and found a redemptive moral in the things many of us often pass off as silly and fickle.  The film made a valid point about how, in the context of our own lives, when we stand up for what we believe in, work hard for and strongly desire, we find our true character and can uncover our dormant humanities.

Having grown up in the days of films like House Party, Juice, New Jack City, Boyz n The Hood and Menace 2 Society, I found "Kicks" to be a really good and honest modern film.  The directorial-debut from Mr. Tipping and the casting were great in the fluid blending of story, characters, imagery and music and the dialogue was honest and real like a page torn right out of a young city kid's book, not trying to save to world, but one who just unconsciously wants to and growth-wise needed to find his own voice and come out of his shell, but in turn discovered something about the world and his undiscovered strength in it.  

"KICKS" a film by Justin Tipping (Runtime: 87 mins) opens in select theaters nationwide tomorrow September 9.  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fresh And Clean: 291 Colorado Fresh Whiskey Review and Cocktail Recipe for Whiskey Sour Challenge

The final cocktail for my Whiskey Sour Challenge (see my previous two posts) is a cool cocktail that I got some direction for from my friend and former bartender Christopher Dobey.  It involves a really cool award-winning whiskey that is rather unique and definitely accolade worthy.  

Honored as being "Fresh as the Colorado snow, smoother than the rocks of the river flow", the hand-distilled 291 Colorado Fresh Whiskey won the People's Choice Award at the Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival in 2015.  Here's Why.  This is a pretty amazing whiskey.  Made by Distillery 291 in Colorado Springs this whiskey is an un-aged corn whiskey that is mellowed with Aspen charcoal of all things.  What results is a slightly sour flavor with a smoky woodsy flavor that really goes down clean an smooth with the charcoal flavor sneaking up on the finish.  What's nice about Fresh is that the flavor is intense on its own as it hits the tongue an just explodes with tartness, slight sweetness and smoky depth all whole just flashing over the tastebuds with lovely ease. 

Fresh in a perfect whiskey for mixing cocktails and was developed with that intent in mind.  The notes of Fresh are pretty perfect for a whiskey sour.  The sour edge and the charred undertones to balance out the sweet are great for a The 'Real Men Drink Pink' Sour.  

The 'Real Men Drink' Pink Sour 

2 ounces       291 Colorado Fresh Whiskey
5-7 shakes    Peychaud's Aromatic Cocktail Bitters
1 ounce         Simple Syrup
1/2 ounce      Fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 ounce      Fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1                    Egg

Add the white the of egg to a shakers and shake until the egg white foams up or meringues.  Then add the Fresh Whiskey, the bitters, simple syrup, lemon juice and lime juice.  Shake up again and double strain over ice into a whisky glass.  Optional garnish with a couple extra dashes of bitters.

This was a surpassingly good drink.  I consulted with Christopher on this drink and he suggested adding the Peychaud's since he thought the clear color of the Fresh Whiskey might make the drink un whiskey sour-like in appearance.  So it became a bit of a whiskey sour and a Boston sour mash up and the result as great.  The bitters added a spicy fragrant sweetness.  It's a light-colored drink but pack a delicious punch.  The sweet and spicy plays up nicely against the smoky sour whiskey.  The egg once again adds some textural depth to the cocktail.

This has been a really great challenge for me in exploring the versatility of expansive flavor profile of whiskey.  Stop by your finer wine, spirit and alcohol retailers and check out 291 Colorado Fresh Whiskey and as always please remember to drink responsibly.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Sour, My Way: Templeton Rye Whiskey Cocktail Recipe for Whiskey Sour Challenge

Still in the mood for Whiskey Sours?  Well if you did imbibe in the beloved cocktail yesterday then wonderful.  If not, then don't worry!  Bars aren't closing in massive quantities and all you need is a few simple ingredients to make an awesome whiskey sour at home.  

So you may have seen my previous post for a 'Boston Sour' made with Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey but I am not going to forget my rye whiskey imbibers.  So for my second cocktail in my Whiskey Sour Challenge I've chosen the dapper Templeton Rye Whiskey.  Mature and refined, Templeton Rye is a smooth whiskey that's less sweet than its bourbon cousin with it deep, heady crispness from the rye and a touch of wonderfully blended spices.  I wanted to keep this cocktail simple for my rye purists that just want a classic done up with their whiskey variety.  So here's a great recipe for a Bewitching Whiskey Sour:

Bewitching Whiskey Sour

1 1/2 ounces   Templeton Rye Whiskey
3/4 ounce        Simple Syrup
3/4 ounce        Fresh Lemon juice
3-5 dashes      Angostura Aromatic Bitters
1                      Cherry
1                      Lime

Add the Templeton Rye Whiskey, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and bitters to the shaker and shake it up.  Pour into a whisky de seigle glass with ice.  Garnish with cherry and a lime wedge.

Right off, the maturity of the Templeton is not diminished by the other ingredients.  The earthiness of the whiskey still retains its depth as the tart lemon, acrid bitters and the sweet simple syrup marry to make this drink become the most grown and sexiest lemonade ever.  Templeton Rye Whiskey is good with this cocktail since it makes the cocktail not overly cloyingly sweet or heavy.  Templeton Rye Whiskey is available at your finer wine, spirit and alcohol retailers and as always please remember to drink responsibly.