Village Voice’s 2nd Annual “Holiday Spirits” Tasting Event Recap

It was quite a festive night aboard The Hornblower Infinity Cruise Ship as the Village Voice held their 2nd Annual Holiday Spirits Tasting Event. Thirty distilleries, wineries and more from New York and beyond set sail for an hour-long harbor cruise. Upon entry to the ticketed event, guests were treated to a souvenir tasting glass, live music, and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. DJ Tim Martell entertained the crowd on the main and mid decks, while live jazz quartet, Blue Vipers of Brooklyn, performed all evening in the Slow & Low Lounge on the ship’s top deck.
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Along with the distilleries showcasing their spirits, the event boasted three specialty bars the above mentioned Slow & Low Lounge, the Asahi Beer Bar, and the It’s Rum Time Bar by Rums of Puerto Rico (pictured below)

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Our first stop was to Scorpion Mezcal, a Mexican Mescal, and their Hot Smokin’ Chocolate cocktail. We loved the combination of the Mescal’s smokiness and the sweet, creamy taste of the hot chocolate. A definite addition to our cocktail recipe list.

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 The next stop was to Philadelphia-based, Art in the Age Craft Spirits, who blew us away with their 80 proof, organic neutral spirits made from botanicals such as Sage, Ginger, Rhubarb, etc. We devoured their Rootnog cocktail (a great take on the traditional eggnog), something we don’t mind having again and again.

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After Art in the Age Craft Spirits, it was on to the delicious and exotic Sorel Artisanal Liqueur, one of the spirit brands local to NYC (It’s Brooklyn-based). The Sorel drink has always been a favorite of ours and we relished in enjoying this Hibiscus plant spirit both hot and cold.

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From there, it was on to Balsalt, Colorado-based, Woody Creek Distillers‘s 100% potato vodka and their delicious Moscow Mule cocktail. we’d describe this vodka as very smooth but with a slight bite, it is after this cocktail that we needed a water break.

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 From vodka, it was on to Gin, specifically Brooklyn-based, Greenhook Ginsmiths, and their array of vibrantly packaged Gins. This is usually our kryptonite, but we decided to indulge in their Plum 75 cocktail. It was delicious, but Gin still remains on our “tread lightly” list.

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Next it was on to the stunning bottles and ultra smooth vodka from Blat Vodka, a Barcelona-based spirit who prides themselves on purity. Our quick shot of this crisp vodka proved that the look of pure packaging is not just for show.

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Our next stop was to Owney’s Rum, another Brooklyn local and their Smells Like Teen Spirit cocktail; rums are our go-to spirit and we love a good white rum. Owney’s definitely captured our heart and taste buds. We wanted to give other spirits a chance to woo us, so this was the only other rum we visited that night.

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Although we took another break and passed on the Ten-Ten Mule cocktail, we were captivated by Cooperstown Distillery and the very cool shape of their Abner Doubleday “Double Play” bottle. A great gift for baseball fans who love vodka, the baseball shaped decanter is hand-blown and features the 108 stitches present on real baseballs.

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Our break led us to the Whole Foods and their decadent Shipwreck Sundae made with one of our favorites, Talenti Gelato. This treat was a much-needed escape from the onslaught of delicious cocktails we’d been treated to at this event.

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 From there on, we made stops to Tuthilltown Spirits, Van Brunt Stillhouse Whiskey, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Breuckelen Distilling, Tanteo Tequila, and ended our drinking at Death’s Door Spirits…..so very appropriate to how we were feeling.

The amazing this about this event, aside from the heavy sampling of these wonder spirits, is the fact that a portion of the proceeds from Holiday Spirits ticket sales went to support Lifebeat, the leading national nonprofit dedicated to educating America’s youth (13-29) about HIV/AIDS prevention. If you love discovering new cocktails and want to help great causes, we thoroughly enjoyed the Village Voice’s 2nd Annual “Holiday Spirits” Tasting Event, we suggest you keep an eye out for the 3rd Annual Village Voice’s “Holiday Spirits” Tasting Event next year.

Holiday Gift Guide: Stylish Spirits from Disaronno, Moet & Chandon, and Dewar’s

When one thinks of stylish things, they tend to think of fashion, accessories, people, or footwear. We’re adding another addition to under this umbrella – alcohol. We’re not talking cocktails, although we know that there are cocktails that are very stylish. Today we’re highlighting the very stunning holiday packaging from Disaronno, Moet & Chandon, and Dewar’s that will brighten up everyone’s holiday. You already know how delicious these three spirits are, and anyone would be more than happy to receive them as gifts. We know we’d love to be gifted with any of these beautiful bottles. If you’re looking for a special and fabulous gift for that very stylish person in your life, look no further than these fab finds.

FOR THE FASHIONISTA – DISARONNO wears VERSACE

DISARONNO, the world’s favorite Italian liqueur, and fashion house Versace have teamed up to launch the ultimate holiday gift for the stylish spirits lover – the DISARONNO wears VERSACE bottle (suggested retail $27.99). The bottle, which launched last month, will be available through the holiday season while supplies last at www.ReserveBar.com/DisaronnoWearsVersaceand at high end retailers nationwide.
The fashion house takes its inspiration for the bottle from the famed Versace Home Collection print, Tresor de la Mer. Glamorous and decadent, this keepsake beautiful bottle is the most fashionable accessory to any home bar, making it the perfect holiday gift. This partnership is not just fashionable but philanthropic too as proceeds from the sale of this limited edition bottle will support the charity Fashion 4 Development, a global campaign sponsored by the United Nations, using fashion to tackle issues in Africa.

FOR THE HOSTESS – Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut

In addition to this newest vintage release, Moët & Chandon is once again The Official Champagne of New Year’s Eve in Times Square. As the official drink of the world’s biggest, most momentous New Year’s celebration, Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut will lead the country in its first toast, shared by over 1 BILLION viewers worldwide. Known for making ANY moment an occasion to remember, the world’s most beloved Champagne, will enliven the party at the Crossroads of the World, as well as any home celebration by adding a special sparkle to the moment. The stunning bottle is decorated in an elegant “Golden Sleeve”, a brilliant, sparkling wrap that will add elegance to the New Year and your holiday parties, bringing gold shimmer to the table to elevate any celebration.
Moet Imperial is adored for its bright fruitiness, seductive palate and elegant maturity, and is widely available in all 50 states for a suggested retail price of $41.00. The Limited Edition, Golden Sleeve Moët & Chandon is available throughout the US and on www.sherry-lehmann.com.

FOR THE MAN IN YOUR LIFE – DEWAR’S 15

Sweep your man off his feet with DEWAR’S limited edition, premium marque for the holidays: DEWAR’S 15 The Monarch. This 15 year aged blended whisky is not only a new marque for the brand, but is also one of the only 15 year aged blended whiskies available in the US. DEWAR’S 15, which retails for $45.00, was created by DEWAR’S master blender Stephanie Macleod. This exquisite blend has matured in sherry and bourbon casks and, once blended, put back into specially selected oak casks to marry for greater smoothness and a longer, lingering finish. The blend features tasting notes of honey, golden toffee, warm and complex, along with rich succulent exotic fruits with hints of coconut and vanilla aromas including citrus and green apple notes and lest we forget the delicate and exquisitely scented floral aromas with a smooth, well-round and long and warming finish.

Have we wet your appetite with these amazing gift ideas? Find yourself jotting these down for yourself as well? Add these to your holiday shopping list and your gift recipients, as well as your budget, will thank you this holiday season.

How Do You Like Them Apples | Cliffton Dry Premium Cider

As you may know, not all wine is made from grapes. The most popular non-grape wine is Cider (normally known in the US as a “hard cider” or “apple wine” because of its alcohol content), made from fermented apples. Today we present a unique twist to the cider category from Cliffton Dry. As you can tell from the name, this refreshing beverage is a light, dry, sparkling apple wine. Cliffton Dry Premium Cider is made from 100% first-pressed, locally grown apples, is low in calories, sugar-free, gluten free, contains a low-alcohol (5.5%) level, and has a bit of a beer personality.
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What makes Cliffton Dry so unique is the fact they use a variety of apples (five to seven apple varieties a year, depending on the seasons harvest) for their first-press process. This unique, refreshing beverage boasts a crisp, fresh taste and pale golden color, that is wonderfully delicate and pure. Organically produced, the Cliffton Dry Premium Cider makes a great wine alternative to pair with fruit and cheese or a seafood meal, instead of the traditional grape-based wine.

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Grab a Cliffton Dry Premium Cider 4-pk for approximately $16.99 at the following retailers: Whole Foods, ‘wichcraft, Fairway, Union Market, and www.empirestatecellars.com. For more information on this refreshingly unique tasting, dry apple wine, visit www.clifftondry.com.

 

Toast to the Holidays w/ These Cocktails at Hard Rock Cafe New York

We were recently invited to tour Yankee Stadium and enjoy an fab supper at the Hard Rock Cafe New York (located right at the stadium) to experience the amazing private tour and meal package deal they have available  (more on that in another post). We couldn’t get over how this deal would make a great holiday gift for any baseball fan, which out us in mind for holiday cocktails you can enjoy at the Hard Rock Cafe. Today we highlight four very delicious cocktails directly from the Hard Rock Cafe menu that you can toast Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year Eve with.

Pumpkinpalooza 

A homemade Milkshake blended with Pumpkin puree and Maker’s Mark, topped with Whipped Cream and Caramel Syrup

2 ½ oz. Makers Mark
2 ½ oz. Pumpkin real puree infused syrup
4 scoops Vanilla ice cream
Blend ingredients. Garnish with Whipped Cream and Caramel Syrup

Coco Press

A warm twist on Hard Rock’s new press cocktails; features a mix of Amaretto, Bacardi Oakheart and Hot Chocolate, served in a coffee-press vessel over whole marshmallows. This cocktail can be made non-alcoholic for the entire family to enjoy an it makes a wonderful gift.

1 oz. Amaretto
2 oz. Bacardi Oakheart
3 oz. Pumpkin real puree
14 oz. Hot Chocolate
5 Marshmallows
Place 5 marshmallows (regular size) into bottom of press. Add the first three ingredients then fill with hot chocolate. Insert depressor and lid, then slowly press the depressor to the bottom of French Press to smash marshmallows.

Pumpkin Smash

A drinkable dessert, this non-alcoholic blend of milk, vanilla ice cream and pumpkin puree and is a perfect seasonal treat for the whole family!

1 ½ oz. Pumpkin real puree infused syrup
4 oz. Milk
3 scoops Vanilla ice cream
Blend ingredients
Garnish with Whipped Cream and Caramel Syrup

Pomegranate Prosecco

Toast the holiday season and ring in the new year when you add a little sparkle to your party with this bubbly mix of Prosecco, White Sangria Mix and Pomegranate Seeds with a rosemary sprig for garnish

1 tbs. Pomegranate Seeds
1 oz. Finest Call White Sangria Mix
2 oz. Santa Margarita Prosecco
1 Rosemary Sprig
Add Pomegranate Seeds and Sangria Mix into Champagne flute. Fill with Santa Margarita Prosecco. Garnish with rosemary sprig

Whether you’re getting together with friends or family celebrating the holiday season, take some time to indulge in one of these delicious Hard Rock Cafe New York cocktails. We’re really excited about the Coco Press cocktail and know you will be too. Will it be your favorite or is another cocktail tantalizing your taste buds? Share your favorite in the comments.

Eat, Drink and Be Thankful w/ Skinnygirl Cocktails & Sauza Tequila

Soon we’ll all be at the table surrounded by family and friends, giving thanks for the people and things we cherish most in our lives. While you are certain to fill up on the Thanksgiving feast, we just have one question, what cocktail are you toasting with? May we suggest you pass on the boring and go for one (or more) of these delicious Thanksgiving themed cocktails from Skinnygirl Cocktails and Sauza Tequila? Enjoy the delicious flavors of the time honored Thanksgiving staples of cranberry sauce or pumpkin in a decadent cocktail.

These delicious, fall themed cocktails celebrate the flavors of the season deliciously, you may find yourself enjoying more than just seconds. Are you ready to enjoy? Then let Skinnygirl Cocktails and Sauza Tequila help you toast to everything you’re thankful for with these four, festive cocktails below:

Sauza® Pumpkin Pie-tini

1 ½ parts Sauza® Blue Reposado 100% Agave Tequila
3 parts cream
½ part Torani® Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1 part simple syrup
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Whipped Cream and cinnamon for garnish (optional)
Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon (optional).

Cranberry Orange Margarita

1 ½ parts Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
½ part DeKuyper® Triple Sec
4 parts cranberry juice
2 parts orange juice
2 oranges
½ cup cranberries, frozen
2 tbsp. sugar
First make your garnishes. Freeze ½ cup of cranberries. Using a channel knife cut a long spiral from on orange (see if you can make it all the way in one try!) and cut into 6 inch pieces. Twist the peels around your bar spoon and reserve for garnish. Zest the other orange with a spice grater to remove just the peel and none of the pith and combine with sugar. Cut the zested orange into wedges. Rub a wedge of orange around half the rim of your glasses. Roll the glasses through the sugared orange zest.

In a shaker, combine the rest of the sugar and orange zest mixture with the cranberry juice, orange juice, Sauza® Blue Silver, orange liqueur, and the juice from the orange. Twist the orange peel over the drink and place on the prepared glass. Top with frozen cranberries and serve your cocktail!

Pumpkin Spice Sipper

1 ½ parts Skinnygirl® Bare Naked Vodka
1 part canned unsweetened pumpkin
¾ part fat free sweetened condensed milk
¾ part unsweetened almond milk
½ tbsp pumpkin pie spice
Shake ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

Turkey Day Toast

3 parts Skinnygirl® Prosecco, chilled
1 part grapefruit juice, chilled
1 part cranberry juice
1 part ginger ale
Grapefruit slice for garnish
Mix all juice ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Top with Skinnygirl® Prosecco and ginger ale. Garnish with grapefruit slice and enjoy!

We are so very thankful for these cocktails. We love all four recipes, what about you?

A Tree Grows In The Financial District: Medici 21 Ristorante & Bar Restaurant Review

Traipsing through the Financial District after business hours can often make me feel like that lone tumbleweed blowing through a ghost town. Now don’t get me wrong! That area does have it’s inhabitants, locals if you will, that give it a lived-in neighborhood kind of feel. However, with very little areas to sit and enjoy the foliage, it’s nice to find other forms of life within this architecturally overpowering pulse point of lower Manhattan. I recently had the pleasure of experiencing life in that region that was served up more of the blanched than the branched. Medici 21 is a wonderful eatery at 21 Rector Street in the Financial District that has recently come under new management.

 What has that brought to the table? Try to imagine wonderful, fresh and classic Italian fare and an energy that brings life to the tightly wound closely knit streets of the Financial District. Equipped with an amazing full bar Medici 21 is a quintessential spot for a work day lunch or evening cocktails and dinner. The revamp brings a sexy youthful verve with a polished downtown edge. Relax with a cocktail downstairs then retire upstairs for a delicious meal that covers the Italian culinary experience with both familiar and unique menu offerings.

The night that I had the pleasure of enjoying the Medici 21 experience was just euphoric. The starters consisting of savory antipasti platters, olives, mushrooms and other artisanal delicacies were a perfect start to what would become one of the best meals I’ve had in quite a while.

For dinner, Executive Chef Allen Dann served a six-course meal complete with wine pairings for each course that were appropriate for the intensity and subtleties of each dish.

Starting off were plump briny Long Island Oysters with a semi-sweet Villa Sandi il Fresco, NV Prosecco followed by the sweet and salty marriage of gorgonzola with caramelized pumpkin in the Artisanal Green Salad that were just seasonally perfect with a Natura Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from Chile.

Next, the light subtle flavor of the Beef Carpaccio with the fragrant white truffles and frosty parmesan created a textural and flavorful wonderment for the tongue while paired with a heady smooth Trivento Reserve Malbec 2013. The Wild Boar Ragu that followed had a tender rustic flavor that was nicely paired with a delicately fresh pappardelle and a Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Napa Valley.

The last two dishes sealed the dining deal for me. The Atlantic Halibut was so tender and light that it complemented the parsnip puree, Tuscan kale and Stag Leaps Chardonnay 2012 also from Napa beautifully. Dessert finished the course roundup with a Seasonal Fruit Zabaglione that was a great plate of sweet and tart flavors that matched up seamlessly with a Marchesi Di Barolo Zagara Moscato D’Asti 2012.

With the World Trade area getting a fresh new start, lower Manhattan dining is stepping up again where areas like Soho and the Meatpacking District were proving victorious. Medici 21 stands to be a great place to have you make that venture into the winding grid-less streets of the Financial District. Medici 21 Ristorante & Bar will stand to be another notable ‘Twenty One’ in the area but far more satisfying.

Tea Time | No Longer Just an Afternoon Delight

Our love of tea is no secret and knows no bounds. While most people swoon over coffee more than anything, we bleed tea. We proudly call our cupboard of tea, a collection, because just as people collect stamps, action figures, etc, we collect tea. We thoroughly enjoy tea infusions and experiment a lot with flavors and while we haven’t gushed here on ready-to-drink cold tea drinks, we’ve been enjoyed them for year – and we’re not talking simple iced tea. Today we highlight cold tea beverages we’ve been enjoying. Some are new, some have been around for years. all we know, they are all very delicious and good for you. Get ready to stock your refrigerator, not your cupboard, with teas from ITO EN, Little Miracles, ChaiElixir, Honest Tea, and Gold Kili.

ITO EN’s Oi Ocha’s Shincha

When you’re thinking of limited edition teas, ITO EN’s leading Japanese brand of green tea, Oi Ocha comes to mind. For the first-time ever, bottled Shincha, the year’s first harvest of green tea, is available in the U.S. Known as the year’s very first harvest of green tea, which is celebrated for its fresh and lively flavor, naturally sweet finish and smooth umami taste. Oi Ocha Shincha is better for you than typical green teas. With its high concentrations of the amino acid L-theanine, catechin antioxidants and Vitamin C, lower caffeine, and high concentration of Catechins/EGCG – a powerful antioxidant in tea that helps neutralize free radicals, this limited edition, seasonal tea will blow you away with its health benefits. Oi Ocha Shincha is available in 16.9 oz., BPA-free recyclable bottles at select retailers and at www.itoen.com.

Little Miracles

Little Miracles are delicious tea beverages you can enjoy anytime. These addictive drinks combine the purest organic green or black tea leaves with the most revitalizing fruits and juices from superfoods. One taste of these refreshingly healthy drinks and you’ll find yourself hooked. What can you expect from this bottled goodness, energizing ginseng and Acai in their purest forms, and other great ingredients such as lemongrass, ginger, pomegranate, and white cherry. Available in four uniquely blended flavors, you’ll find yourself continuously quenching your thirst with these high quality, antioxidant tea drinks day and night. Little Miracles come in handy little 11.16 oz bottles but are very new to the US. To find a list of stockists (aka retailers), go to www.drinklittlemiracles.com.

ChaiElixir

We have a profound love of chai. it is a love we cannot understand and one we have completely surrendered ourselves to. Which is why we were truly excited to be introduced to ChaiElixir, an amazingly refreshing, effervescent chai drink that is an all-natural alternative to carbonated and caffeinated drinks. If you’ve ever enjoyed the spicy, sweet and milky taste of a cold or frozen chai, you will fall head over heels in love with all three flavors of ChaiElixir. Essence boasts a blend of white tea, natural flavors and spices, sweetened with sugar cane and white peach nectar. The very smooth Fusion blends oolong tea, natural flavors and spices from around the world with a touch of vanilla for an enchanting and flavorful journey. Last but not least, Vivid invigorates your taste buds with green tea, natural citrus flavors, spices and caffeine. ChaiElixir comes in 12 oz glass bottles and can be purchased at www.mybrands.com.

Honest Tea

For those who want the fresh taste of fruit with a caffeine-free tea option, the organic, 100 calories per bottle, Honest Tea is just what you need. Although the two newest flavors, Orange Mango Flavored Herbal Tea and Pomegranate Blue Flavored Herbal Tea are launching in January 2015, you can currently indulge in their refreshing and slightly sweet flavors. We recommend their Raspberry Tea, Honey Green Tea, and Peach White Tea, all of which are only 70 calories per bottle. Honest Tea comes in 16.9 oz. and 59 oz bottles, and is available at mass retailers and drug stores nationwide.

Gold Kili All-Natural Ginger Lemon

we know what you’re thinking, one of these things is not like the others. Yes this tea can be enjoyed hot and cold but ever since the weather has become unpredictable, we’ve been plopping one of these filter bags into all our drinks. We’ve infused our water, orange juice, smoothies, etc with the sharp, spicy taste of ginger all for our good health and love of this pronounced flavor. Made with the finest grade ginger, and enhanced with the naturally tangy lemon, Gold Kili will cure what ails you this winter. A box comes with 12 individual foil pouches and can be purchased on www.amazon.com.

Are you a tea lover like us? Have you tried any of the above? Share your favorite cold tea beverages.

Keep Your Spirits Up | Village Voice 2nd Annual “Holiday Spirits” Tasting Event

Ready to get into the Holiday Spirits? Or rather, are you ready for the Holiday Spirits to get into you? The Village Voice is back with another celebrated experience that is a unique way to indulge in your favorite alcohol brands, and perhaps discover a few new specialty cocktails. Coming very soon, November 20th to be exact, is the Village Voice 2nd Annual “Holiday Spirits” Tasting Event, where 25+ distilleries, wineries and more from New York and beyond will be on hand to share samples of their delicious spirits, and treat you to a night of fun.

During this second round of what is surely a very festive event, which takes place on The Hornblower Infinity Cruise Ship from 6:00pm – 9:00pm, attendees of the Village Voice 2nd Annual “Holiday Spirits” Tasting Event will get to enjoy a fun harbor cruise as they sample drinks from Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur, Brooklyn Winery, Mount Gay Rum, Sorel Artisanal Liqueur, Van Brunt Stillhouse, Widow Jane, Art in the Age Craft Spirits, Atsby Vermouth, Breuckelen Distilling, Cooperstown Distillery, Greenhook Ginsmiths, Owney’s Rum and White Pike Whiskey, and many more local and artisan spirit brands.

This year’s Holiday Spirits will feature two ticket options: general admission tickets ($50.00), and VIP tickets ($70.00). Both offer unlimited sampling from 25+ distilleries, wineries and more, a souvenir tasting glass, live music*, and complimentary hors d’ouevres. The VIP ticket allows guests access to the Captain’s Lounge, a private VIP deck located on the top level of the ship, which will include a private bar, and a VIP gift bag. For more details on this year’s two ticket options, visit: ww.villagevoice.com/holidayspirits.

*Each level of the ship will feature live entertainment throughout the night from jazz quartet, The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn, and local New York  DJ Tim Martell, who has worked his “turntables” opening for Beyonce, performing at Shaun White’s X-Games Gold After Party, and MTV’s VMA official after party. For more information on attending this great event, and to purchase your tickets, see below:

 DATE: Thursday, November 20th 2014
VENUE: The Hornblower Infinity Cruise Ship
    Pier 40 @ West Houston St., Manhattan, NY
TICKETS: On-sale now, here: http://ticketf.ly/1yhVPCo
General Admission Ticket – $50 | VIP Ticket – $70
TIME: 6PM – 9PM
            5:30pm Boarding | 7:45pm Leave Dock For NY Harbor Cruise

Hope to see you all on the cruise!