I recently visited the Rum House in Midtown NYC, attached to the Edison Hotel, run by the same owners of Ward III in Tribeca. I’m not a huge rum fan, but on a bitter, cold January night (12 degrees F), rum was just the cure for warming up. The choice of drinks was enticing and delicious. My favorite was “The Negroni Leoni” – SANTA TERESA 1796 SOLERA RUM, ILEGAL MEZCAL, SWEET VERMOUTH & CAMPARI SERVED OVER TWO CUBES. And if you prefer non-rum cocktails, these are available too.
Tarantino’s Restaurant & Bar in Westport, CT has always served an authentic and delicious Italian cuisine. Established in the 1980s, the restaurant has catered to the locals and NY commuters and has enjoyed a loyal following. With the opening of a top NY competitor across the street, it was time for Tarantino’s to re-boost its image. Beginning with a redesign of the interior and exterior, I worked with the owners to create a fun, retro-inspired space that gave a nostalgic feeling of 1960s Italy and Hollywood. Dark colors with a vibrant red and powder blue accents, sunburst mirrors and black & white images of Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn and Frank Sinatra are some of the details that make up the experience. The design was completed in early 2012 and Tarantino’s has enjoyed keeping its regular customers as well as adopting several new customers. The menu has stayed just as good with the introduction of new items.
Last Friday night I was passing through Tribeca and stopped into Ward III, “NY’s Original Bespoke Cocktail Bar”. Wall-to-wall cocktail drinkers, attentive, expert bartenders who mixed the dirtiest martini I’ve ever tasted (!) and vintage cocktails served in old fashioned coupette glasses, Ward III opened a few years ago and is still going strong. It’s newest establishment, The Rum House, opened recently in Midtown.
Immersed in the creative juices of Hoxton, in London’s East End, owner Gerry Calabrese had the idea of recreating a classic; to create a fun Gin that’s like no other on the market. One that’s smooth, easy and different from the rest. With this in mind, Gerry created Hoxton Gin. After several attempts at the ideal recipe, he had a brainwave: A gin that takes the classic Juniper driven character and adds something exotic. Distilled with coconut and grapefruit, Hoxton Gin is uniquely smooth and rounded – opening up Gin to a whole new world of drinking and cocktail possibilities. Currently sold in the UK and Europe…with plans for the US. www.hoxtongin.com.
The Campbell Apartment is a truly unique New York City bar hidden in the back of Grand Central Terminal. Just there last week for a quick cocktail before I jumped on Metro North, I admired the history and restoration of the space. Contrary to its name, the space was never an apartment, but was once the office of American financier, John Campbell, who served on the New York Central’s Board of Directors.
The 3,500-square-foot space was first leased in 1923 by John Campbell from William Vanderbilt II, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the original owner of the New York Central Railroad. The family built Grand Central Terminal. The space was a single room with a 25-foot ceiling and an enormous faux fireplace in which Campbell kept a steel safe. At that time, it was the largest ground floor space in Manhattan. Campbell commissioned Augustus Allen, an architect known for designing estates on Long Island and town houses in Manhattan, to build an opulent office, transforming the room into a 13th-century Florentine palace with a hand-painted plaster of paris ceiling and leaded windows.
One of the most striking features was a Persian carpet that took up the entire floor and was said to have cost $300,000 at the time, or roughly $3.5 million today. Campbell added a piano and pipe organ, and at night turned his office into a reception hall, entertaining 50 or 60 friends who came to hear famous musicians play private recitals. He had a permanent butler named Stackhouse.
After Campbell’s death in 1957, the rug and other furnishings disappeared from his office and the space eventually became a signalman’s office and later a closet at Grand Central, where the transit police stored guns and other equipment. It also became a small jail, in the area of the present-day bar.
The space was restored and renovated in 1999 as the Campbell Apartment. The name “apartment” is used in the more traditional sense as a room set aside for an individual’s private use.
Check out these gorgeous, felt wall hangings created by Helen Yardley Studio in London. Although best known for their exclusive rugs, runners and carpets, made on commission, Helen Yardley Studio has recently been producing a series of spectacular wall hangings for both domestic and commercial spaces.
Each individual piece starts with a unique Helen Yardley design, tailored to the space for which it’s intended. This design is then realized in pure wool felt, hand-dyed, machine stitched and over-printing applied. The result is a wholly unique, beautifully hand-crafted piece of art for the wall, indicative of Yardley’s bold, painterly style, yet custom-designed to suit a space to perfection.
Not only do the felt hangings evoke an ambient sense of warmth to any interior space, they act as a highly efficient sound absorber too. So a Helen Yardley wall hanging makes an ideal decorative addition to any hard floor area, such as an office, hallway, kitchen/dining space or conservatory.
A VISIT TO HELEN YARDLEY IN LONDON… I recently returned from a trip to London, my second home, where I used to reside and where I’m always inspired by UK designers and artists who rock!
My first visit was with Sarah McNulty of Helen Yardley Contemporary Rug Designs located in Bermondsey, South London. Sarah was kind enough to walk me through the Helen Yardley Collection – gorgeous, bespoke, hand tufted rugs that truly are individual paintings about color, shape and space. “A certain style of painting may more readily be translated into a needlepoint or a printed piece but the “painting”always comes first. What I aim for with these paintings/rugs/wall hangings is to make something that works visually but carries layers of meaning. There must be something more lasting than pure decoration.” Helen Yardley.
The Collection is a highly versatile range of handmade rugs which are readily available in a standard range of size and colors. These rugs can also be customized to suit the specific needs of sizes and colors. These rugs can also be customized to suit the specific needs of the client in terms of size and/or color. www.helenyardley.com.
The next day I visited Fyrbox , a partnership between Ruth Berenbaum, glass artist, and Rebecca Disney, designer. In a small but very functional studio in Clerkenwell, the pair are creating unique glass lighting designs that use traditional craft skills. Fyrbox work on commissioned projects for boutique hotels, retailers, offices and domestic spaces; each piece is customized to a particular interior space to consider the volume and materials of the space itself and the client’s needs and personality. ”Our aim is to bring together two distinct skill bases and explore the potential of the dialogue between design and craft.”
Over a well brewed cup of coffee, Rebecca and Ruth walked me through their creative process and showed me examples of their work on hand that were merely “samples” or “work in progress” but were stunning nonetheless; beautiful glass colored bulbs of odd, “amoeba” shapes and sizes that are used to create a final solution. Rebecca creates the concept and with drawings and models collaborates with Ruth who determines the materials and technique and brings the idea to life. The two compliment each other well, bouncing ideas off of each other and tackling a project with an artistic idealism that is also practical to create works of art that are long lasting and functional.
A project begins with an initial site visit. In response to this, Fyrbox prepares drawings, models and material samples for client approval.”Recycled scientific glassware is often the starting point for many of our ideas.” Depending on the scale and complexity of the project, Fyrbox aims to supply completed work in 8-10 weeks. All items are handmade in the UK; Frybox is now accepting overseas commissions. www.fyrbox.co.uk.
I LOVE this funky, beautiful, amusing and handmade chandelier that is the creation of Norwood’s own interior decorator who had the brilliant idea of of assembling a few branches, bulbs and feathers to create a usable piece of art. Norwood’s is a private members club in Chelsea, NYC. It is a beautifully restored 1860′s townhouse, now club, with 4 floors of uniquely designed rooms that speak to media and the arts. And the drinks are definitely delicious and intoxicating…I had a least three of the cucumber gin concoction.
This art installation in the DUMBO area of Brooklyn displays the artist’s mood each day from April 2009. It’s amazing how many colors we might feel with the exception of black and white!