While at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, I met Edgar Harden who has a company buying and selling vintage spirits. If you hear a Jay-Z lyric, “drinkin Jim Beam from a bowling pin like they did in ’53,” on his next album you’ll know that he has consulted the Old Spirits Company. I had the opportunity to taste from these old bottles. The product remains generally in tact, while the alcohol diminishes. It tastes like the stuff you tasted when you were 13 and you raided your parents liquor cabinet that contained your mom’s collection of tiny bottles from the airplane. Well, at least that was what it was like for me. Some people buy these to commemorate anniversaries, or some special events. Others buy them because they are collectible and hard to find. Many of the bottles were created for promotional reasons back in the 50s. Bowling was very popular then, and Jim Beam produced this pin shaped bottle, complete with molded plastic top and pouring device. This bottle, complete with original contents will run you £250. Vintage spirits can sell for over $20,000 for 18th century cognacs. Should you start your own collection, make sure to store your spirits in a dark basement, and dark glass bottles will hold up better than the clear ones.
I had the pleasure of attending The Manhattan Cocktail Classic, presented by Saveur yesterday. I came across Angostura Bitters. Angostura is the original and most well recognized bitters brand in the world, and is essential in every home bar. Part of what makes Angostura so recognizable is the label which has a great story. Angostura Bitters were first made in 1824 by Doctor Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, the Surgeon General in Simon Bolivar’s army in Venezuela. Originally used to treat soldiers’ upset stomachs, and hiccups (still works for this) bitters are made through a process of distillation of secret ingredients primarily gentian, a bitter herb. Angostura Bitters have 44% alcohol.As my bartender was shaking me a cocktail, I learned the story of the label. At some point in history Dr. Siegert who ran the distillery in Angostura, Venezuela, (now Ciudad Bolívar) with his brother, ordered the proper sized bottle, while his brother ordered an oversized label. They had ordered so many at the time, they stuck with it. Now, the iconic label and it’s factory are based in Trinidad and Tobago and account for the largest export in Trinidad other than oil.
The Noho Design fair tends to bring new designers and objects into the world presenting in various locations in the Noho (North of Houston) neighborhood. The selection of work at 45 Bleeker street is meant to highlight new designers. There were a few gems in this space presented by Sight Unseen and Jawbone. Misha Kahn was showing a neon table, a shingled chest of semi-functioning drawers (you have to decide if you want the cabinet open or not) and porcelain bubble lamps. He is a recent recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, a graduate of RISD and working on his Masters in Design from the Bezalel Academy in Israel.
Eric Trine, the Portland based self described “Maker of Things” created a vignette that reminded me of the pictures in the old photo albums of my grandparents. I really love geometric wire plant stands which are available at Poketo in Los Angeles.
Another new addition to the design world is Caitlin Mociun. She is a jewelry and textile designer based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Among other things, she was showing these triangle pillows which are perfect to rest your tired little wrists from all that mouse clickage. Check out her store and website at Mociun.com
This week is NYC Design Week. ICFF, Wanted Design and Noho Design all run fairs in tandem. I had the opportunity to visit 2 Bond Street, a temporary store and space that is showing new design objects in the Noho Design District. One of the objects I found most interesting are these “Marbelles.” They are solid marble dumbbell weights created by Guillaume Sasseville, a French-Canadian designer based in Montreal. The weights each are around 5lbs, and will be inscribed with 2kg etchings on the end. Sasseville collaborated with Josee Lepage of BondToo after she saw a table he made of marble which is on view at the Wanted Design Fair this week. She thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if this were even smaller, like a dumbbell?” They haven’t quite determined a price yet, but the dumbbells will run you around $2,000.
Founded by Lora Appleton and Bachman Brown Clem, Kinder MODERN is a New York City-based gallery showcasing vintage children’s design of the 20th century. The collection is edited with a playful eye and functional view, featuring both American and European design. They feature designers such as Hans Wegner, Marc Berthier, Friso Kramer and Ernest Igl. I love this child’s desk which comes complete with original sheepskin seat cover. Visit them today at the Collective Design Fair, now through May 11th.
I had the pleasure of finding the best books about design to include in the first ever Collective Design Fair taking place right now through May 11th. Artbook asked me to transform a former parking garage and municipal storage facility at pier 57 in Manhattan, into a pop-up shop selling the best design books you can buy. On Friday at 2:00, we will be having a book event with the author Jeffrey Head about the artist/designer Paul Evans. Get a copy for yourself at the fair or online using my special Popular Offerings reader discount code ARTBOOK25.