Considering that the U.S. only recently lifted the ban on absinthe, there probably isn't a blueprint for how to properly launch a label of the high-proof liquor.
However, a few party prerequisites may have been established last night at Von as East Village absinteur Mark Maurice celebrated his newly bottled brand, Edward III.
In the Bleeker Street bar's intimate, downstairs cocktail lounge, models crowded into booths, confetti cannons fired and a transgendered performer from The Box vogued to Madonna while dressed as a robot. Maurice can thank his friend and curator Adam Aleksander for the whimsical touches.
Aleksander is the mastermind behind last summer's buzzed about Carnivale of Ascension, a three-night dinner party held in a private East Village loft that saw guests devour whole roasted game from a communal table and pluck deserts straight off nude models' chests. In fact, the one-off event has become a monthly party, albeit one with a new name and location.
"I run an underground club called Les Salonnieres. We take two abandoned apartments in a Lower East Side tenement and get together a bunch of artists and their friends and serve a four to five course dinner and cocktails. It goes till past our bedtime," the affable host said with a devilish smile.
These themed-nights, which take weeks to plan, have included temporary wallpaper and art installations, vines made of lace, candle-only lighting and one very oblivious landlord. Given its success, Aleksander has been asked to curate other events, and next month, he’ll be hosting a Marie Antoinette-themed cake party for the Supper Club at uptown brasserie Orsay.
But while he’s a fan of bringing his own offbeat and charming sensibilities to a wider audience, Aleksander really sees these private, individual house parties as the next level in New York nightlife.
“I went out so much in my early 20s, I've seen everything, I know what a crazy party is, so now I just want something that's fun and real and meaningful, and the way to do it is with something that's private. I love rethinking the entire nightlife industry and philosophy,” he said.