Tell us how you went from revered DJ to owner of some of the most talked-about venues in NYC.
It’s been a long road from Drum & Bass rave DJ to owner of Home Sweet Home, Figure 19 and my newest, Sel Rrose. Every choice I made led me to where I am now. Every bar I built was a refection of me and the influences I was experiencing at the time.
Because of my djing, touring, and event throwing experience, I knew that I wanted a DJ booth and dance floor for my first bar, Home Sweet Home. My contacts from djing and touring for 10 years helped understand what lower NYC was looking for in 2006 and gave me a lot of connections that I needed to make the bar successful.
Slowly I saw a change coming. The New Yorkers were becoming more influenced by craft cocktails/ speakeasy’s and hotel bars. I was becoming more interested in going to places like Milk and Honey, PDT and Jane Hotel, Passerby and Beatrice Inn. At a “business lunch” with a glass of Clase Azul Reposado Tequila, my business partner and I came up with the concept of a hidden bar that would be in back of an art gallery, and Fig.19 was born
Sel Rrose happened a little differently. I saw the corner space on Bowery and Delancey going out of business. I immediately wanted it and reached out to the owner before the space even went on the market. Once inside I knew that this space was meant to be an oyster bar. I started researching the history of the neighborhood and became obsessed with the history of oysters in NYC (a space defines its concept and design for me. You can’t force a design on a space - it has to offer you what it is meant for). I was inspired by Maison Primiere, Marlow & Sons, Balthazar.
A space defines its concept and design for me. You can’t force a design on a space - it has to offer you what it is meant for.
Each venue has its own vibe and personality, what inspired your design of each one?
2005: Home Sweet Home was inspired by Ryan McGinley, Lit, The Hole, Graffiti Artists, skaters, NYC Bands, Max Fish, Dietch Gallery.
2010: Figure 19 was inspired by Sasha Petraske of Milk and Honey, PDT, Freeman's famous mixologists.
2013: Sel Rrose was inspired by an obsession with Rrose Seylavy (Marcel Duchamp), a trip to Paris and Hemingway Midnight in Paris.
Sel Rrose in particular has to be one of the most Instagrammed venues in the city, is that on purpose?
Yes and No. Sel Rrose is very photogenic. While designing it I was not thinking about Instagram, I was just really focused on trying to capture the soul of the neighborhood. However once we opened, social media influencers @aguynamedpatrick and @emily_luciano started doing postings of us. Once they started everyone followed. About a month later I painted the doors a dusty rose pink – that one, I did one on purpose.
The Lavender Piscine cocktail is one of our favorites in all of NYC, what are the ingredients and what inspired the drink?
W Magazine had a note from the editor where she mentioned that everyone in a morning meeting was inspired by “cute little french girls” and how they dressed. This is right when Isabel Marant was really making a name for herself. This struck a cord with me and I wanted to know what was so fascinating about these 20 somethings and what is their lifestyle like. Paris became my inspiration. I learned from my french friend Julie that the new thing was to drink champagne out of a huge wine glass and put ice cubes in it. Traditionally that is seen as a big “no no” but it was happening and it’s cute. Thus I relayed this story to our cocktail consultant and he helped me to put a twist on it. I am very proud of this Lavender Piscine cocktail. The ingredients are French sparkling, Herbs de Provence syrup, Hopped grapefruit bitters, add on large lavender ice cube (made from lavender tea). Serve in a burgundy wine glass and garnish with a lavender sprig.
How has the bar scene changed since you launched your first venue to now?
My neighborhood has changed so much in the last 11 years. When I opened Home Sweet Home that was the time of the OG hipsters - I still love those black skinny jeans and leather jackets! The bars we frequented were the Johnson’s, Max Fish, Motor City and the Hole. Some serious rock and graffiti and young artists. It was a time that artists could still afford to live in the city. As time goes on and money comes into the neighborhood you see the taste changing from $2 PBR’s to craft cocktail bars and $14 drinks. With even more wealth and better economy you find the foodies and natural wine lovers. I personally love all of those eras.
That was the time of the OG hipsters - I still love those black skinny jeans and leather jackets!
We’re constantly looking for ways to make party planning easier, what are your recommendations for cocktails to serve for large groups that’s easy to make and will also impress?
Oh, this is my favorite. I found an old picture of the horse races with beautiful women in hats and gloves. Behind them is a enormous platinum champagne fountain - I had to buy one for Sel Rrose. When we put it out for events it is definitely the topic of conversation. You can put Champagne in it or make a colorful specialty cocktail. Either is impressive.
What’s your perfect food and beverage day in NYC?
Obviously NYC changes a lot but this is my current favorite: Coffee with friends at RW Guild, Champagne brunch at Le Cou Cou… some Soho shopping at BDDW and Zimmermann’s. Then finish the day at any one of these places: Cervo’s, While We Were Young, Wild Air, Bacaro, Lucky Strike, Cork Buzz.
If you could invite 7 people to dinner, dead or alive, who would that be?
Rrose Sélavy: Marcel Duchamp’s Female Alter Ego
Ernest Miller Hemingway - The Sun Also Rises
Nicky and Simone Zimmermann - founded their namesake brand in Sydney in 1991
@aguynamedpatrick social media influencer and co-founder of Spring Street Social Society and @theliqrcabinet app
Chef Jonah Reider of www.pith.space
@_candicekaye_ of: candicekayedesign.com she is the modern day Dorothy Draper
Doreen Winkler of @diamondsommelier - Orange wine queen and natural wine expert