It used to be that throwback drinking meant quaffing Prohibition-era cocktails and Hemingway sippers. But these days, we’re seeing an emphasis on even older traditions, and a resurgence of traditional techniques that have long fallen out of use. Mead, the fermented honey drink that was made as early as 7000 BC in China and was drunk in North Europe during the Bronze Age, is making a comeback that started in the homebrew community and grew outward. And in just a few short months, Williamsburg will be home to one of the largest mead brewing operations in the country.
Having just returned from two weeks in India, I definitely don’t miss the honking: it’s enough to make Rudy Giuliani rip out the rest of his hair and run crying into the bosom of Daddy Trump. But I do miss the cute little tuk tuks, bobbing and weaving through traffic Mario-Go-Kart-style. So, you can imagine my delight when I passed by the newly soft-opened Williamsburg Hotel and saw this gleaming new ride outside.
By now you may have heard that, hot on the heels of opening Westlight on the roof of Williamsburg’s shiny new William Vale hotel, Andrew Carmellini has opened his bottom-floor restaurant, Leuca. Grub Street noted that the Italian spot is serving “New York’s most elegant sundae,” which will surprise no one who’s had the decadent, over-the-top La Fantasia di Doppio Cioccolato at one of the chef’s other spots, Locanda Verde.
As of this afternoon, for the first time ever, you can make your way up to the tip top of the brand new William Vale hotel, clink glasses with your crew and look out over the expanse of Brooklyn from the Westlight, the new Williamsburg luxury hotel’s 22nd-floor bar with 360-degree views of the city skyline. Suddenly, Brooklyn will look almost insignificant and underdeveloped, teeming with pathetic, spartan life. Shift your godlike eyes down toward the Wythe Hotel and its unfortunate patrons will look like drunken, desperate ants. “Literally, that’s the Wythe– look how little it looks,” a PR rep laughed along with us.
Yesterday afternoon a group of vocal protesters gathered along East 11th Street, facing a row of historic brick buildings they’re intent on saving from demolition at the hands of one of the city’s most prolific developers. The structures in question are a streak of five residential buildings, all of them five-story, Old Law tenements that, according to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, have changed little since they were built between 1887 and 1892.
GVSHP and the other preservation groups that organized yesterday’s protest– including the Historic Districts Council, the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative and the East Village Community Coalition– are appealing to the city’s Landmarks and Preservation Commission to come through with an eleventh-hour historic district designation that would thwart plans for a 300-room hotel.
Did you know this Thursday is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day? It might get a little confusing, as National Chocolate Chip (sans cookie) Day is May 15 and National Cookie Day is December 4, but rest assured there’s also a day specifically for these classic treats.
Somehow Amy Sedaris always seems to be around when paintings have to come down off the walls. Remember the Mondrian that Jacqueline was forced to part with in the new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? And how Sedaris’s character, spazzy socialite Mimi Kanasis, was taken aback when Kimmy approached her in Jacqueline’s empty apartment: “I thought you were a Jeff Koons sculpture of Ronald McDonald!”
Travel to almost any international city, from Berlin to Lima, and chances are you can to drop your bags at a cheap hostel filled with bunk beds and Ikea furniture, hassle free.
Not so in New York City. Even one of the last standouts, the hostel (something of a flophouse, in reality), The Whitehouse Hotel on Bowery, closed “temporarily” last year and has yet to reopen. But a new bill, introduced to City Council by Margaret Chin, could allow hostels to thrive, a prospect that has major implications for how we discuss the battle between Airbnb and critics of “illegal hotels.”
With hotels, Airbnbs, and gifty boutiques popping up all over Williamsburg to serve an influx of out-of-towners, one has to wonder: how many people strolling Bedford Avenue at a given time are locals, and how many are tourists? To answer that question, we posted up outside of the Bedford station and polled over 300 passersby. Our findings: 1 in 3 people we spoke to were from outside of New York City (about half of those visitors were Europeans), while just 1 in 4 of them actually lived in Williamsburg. As one of Williamsburg’s many French tourists might say: “Mon dieu!”
Last night at Luna’s first New York City gig in 10 years — an outdoor show at Northside Festival, off of McCarren Park — one of the guys pointed to a concrete tower rising near the Williamsburg waterfront and directed everyone’s attention to “the PanAm building.” Or was it the MetLife building? The behemoth rising above Wythe Avenue is actually the William Vale hotel, slated for completion early next year. Though it currently stands at less than half its expected height, it’s already pretty impressive. And it’s even more dizzying up close, as we saw during a recent hard-hat tour. From its ginormous basement ballroom to the offices overlooking the longest rooftop hotel pool in New York City, we got the inside look at Williamsburg’s new luxury hotel.
The long in-the-works Orchard Street Hotel is slated to open next week, according to general manager Angela Fiore. The hotel, at 163 Orchard Street between Rivington and Stanton Streets, is already taking reservations on Booking.com, where a deluxe queen room is going for $129 a night, a 75-percent discount off the original $499.99. The site says there’s an on-site bar, mentions that “certain rooms offer a view of the city,” and touts its proximity to the Lower East Side’s nightlife.
In response to complaints that illegal hotels, including Airbnb rentals that violate the law, are worsening New York City’s lack of affordable housing, undermining the city’s hotel market, and causing safety issues in apartment buildings, New York City Council members have announced a comprehensive plan to double the city department responsible for investigating violations.