New York City

Bitters are the glue that hold a cocktail together


“It’s almost like glue that holds a cocktail together,” said Philip Ward, the head bartender at Death & Co., in the East Village, where 17 of the 37 house drinks include bitters. “Add a dash, and the other three or four ingredients in the cocktail are in some way going to be able to relate with at least one or two things in the bitters.”

I got into cocktails when I lived in New York, and Death & Co. was one of my favorite spots.

Wine is known to be complex and “snobby” but recently I’ve been having a great time trying Manhattans with different whiskeys, vermouths, and bitters.

Any recommendations for making a great Manhattan?

An engineer’s worst nightmare? His design for a skyscraper like Citicorp Center are flawed and hurricane season is approaching

ON a warm June day in 1978, William J. LeMessurier, one of the nation’s leading structural engineers, received a phone call at his headquarters, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from an engineering student in New Jersey. The young man, whose name has been lost in the swirl of subsequent events, said that his professor had assigned him to write a paper on the Citicorp tower, the slash-topped silver skyscraper that had become, on its completion in Manhattan the year before, the seventh-tallest building in the world.

LeMessurier found the subject hard to resist, even though the call caught him in the middle of a meeting. As a structural consultant to the architect Hugh Stubbins, Jr., he had designed the twenty-five-thousand-ton steel skeleton beneath the tower’s sleek aluminum skin. And, in a field where architects usually get all the credit, the engineer, then fifty-two, had won his own share of praise for the tower’s technical elegance and singular grace; indeed, earlier that year he had been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor his profession bestows. Excusing himself from the meeting, LeMessurier asked his caller how he could help.

The student wondered about the columns–there are four–that held the building up. According to his professor, LeMessurier had put them in the wrong place.

“I was very nice to this young man,” LeMessurier recalls. “But I said, ‘Listen, I want you to tell your teacher that he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, because he doesn’t know the problem that had to be solved.’ I promised to call back after my meeting and explain the whole thing.”


This is one of my favorite New York stories, and also one of my favorite buildings in the city.

The design of the Citigroup building was flawed, and wouldn’t stand up to winds that statistically occur every 16 years. To avoid panic, the building was secretly retrofitted, just in time.

My friend Gary had to cancel his birthday booze cruise because of Hurricane Bill, and I was immediately reminded of this great article. Read the whole thing here.

New Cooper Square Hotel opens in my old New York backyard

The neighbors aren’t too happy with the mezzanine bar & terrace….there’s an elderly lady that hangs her dirty laundry on a clothes line and blows a whistle at people on the terrace….NYC charm!

While I lived on 6th St and 3rd Ave in New York, I saw many apartment buildings come down and make way for the new Cooper Square Hotel. The back window to my apartment had a perfect view of the construction.

It took years for the project to complete, and the hotel opened just months after I left New York.

One woman who lived in an apartment building on the hotel site refused to move, and they had to build around her.

The other neighbors were complaining loudly about the bars that would basically be in their backyards.

Now it’s open, and apparently people aren’t too happy about it.

Blowing whistles at people, I love it 🙂

The giant Starbucks in Astor Place is closing. In my old New York neighborhood

I lived in New York for the best years that city ever had. The economy was booming and there was more life and activity in New York than anywhere else in the world. I totally lived it up, ate everywhere, drank everywhere, saw everything. I never passed on a chance to experience any corner of that town.
As soon as I left, it started falling apart. The economy collapsed, and given New York is the financial center of the country, it was hit harder than anyplace else. I’m really glad I don’t have to be there to see all this happening around me. I have such great memories of New York, and that’s how I’ll always remember it.
I lived just a few blocks from this Starbucks, gave them a ton of my money, spent many hours coding there. It probably appears in over 100 photos I’ve taken. Here is one of my favorites.


Great new tequila bar less than a block from my old apartment in New York

I miss New York so much. I wonder why we don’t get cool places like this in SF.

Monika sent me a link to this new tequila bar in the east village. Created by the same people as Death & Co, one of my other favs.

slide up to the bar and order one of master mixologist Phil Ward’s new creations (like the Loop Tonic—blanco tequila, green chartreuse, vermouth and celery bitters) before finding your way upstairs. There, under a stained-glass chandelier meant to evoke a tarantula, you can settle with your favorite señorita, a few small bites and get to know tequila again for the first time.


Beyond the Pudding, a Mystery – New York Times

But there has always been something strange about the business on Spring Street. It seems too beautiful, too expensive an operation, given that it sells only coffee and 20 flavors of rice pudding. Beyond that beauty — the serving case with specially designed pudding bowls, the oval glass entryway sculptured like a grain of rice, the quirky flavors like Stubborn Banana and No Guts, No Carrot Cake — lies a tight-lipped tale.


Rice to Riches was one of my favorite dessert spots in New York. Not just for the pudding and coffee, but the overall experience of the store. It was incredibly well done, and I’m as surprised as any that it was fabricated to launder money. I guess if you need a way to clean up some money, might as well build something delicious along the way.

Thanks to my old Apple co worker, old New York neighbor, Paul, for the link

Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist makes me miss New York


We just watched Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist. It was good, but I expected more. It’s definitely the weakest of the Michael Cera films I’ve seen. The redeeming qualities in the movie were New York City, and the soundtrack. All indie films these days have a good soundtrack, but this one focussed on the music.

The entire movie was shot within a 10 minute walk of my apartment in New York. I’m not even joking. I’m surprised I never saw them filming. Every landmark they hit, every music venue (except 1) was right next to my old apartment. All the scenes where they are driving were the streets I walked through everyday. I recognized many random stores and restaurants. Seen in the movie (and I’ve been to every single one of these places):

Arlene’s Grocery

Union Pool (Brooklyn, not near me)
Bowery Ballroom

Mercury Lounge (I saw Bishop Allen play here, as did they in the movie)
Astor Place
St Marks Place
Crash Mansion (horrible place)
Astor Place cube

The movie really made me miss New York a lot. I love that city so much. The way I fit in in New York City, how I knew my way around, the places I went to, all the things I did…It was a perfect fit, and I did it all. I love San Francisco as well, but I don’t think any city will ever match New York for me.

One of the bands featured in the movie was The Submarines, which is a group I’ve recently been listening to a ton.

Xavia by The Submarines