Oct 9, 2015

Absolut x Hella Bitters

Vodka and bitters, hello. Sounds like a good start to a week, right? I was recently commissioned by Absolut for their Absolut Crafted with Love campaign, in which I had the pleasure of highlighting a local quality maker in the beverage/cocktail industry. Personally, I’m particularly drawn to any cocktails that have a healthy amount of bitters, so getting to feature Hella Bitters in this campaign was the perfect pairing.

Over the past few years, I’ve placed greater importance on the quality of everything I bring into my life, and ingredients are a big part of that. Most people probably don’t realize that Absolut sources all their ingredients within 75 miles of their distillery in Sweden. And of course, as a local small business, Hella Bitters cares a great deal about the quality of their craft and their end products, which are made in small batches with the finest ingredients available.

During a visit to the Hella Bitters production facility in Long Island City, we learned all about the process of bitter making, and it’s surprisingly simple (in the sense that you can easily make your own bitters at home with a bit of patience!). We started by looking at some of the ingredients that go into their Aromatic Bitters, and then we made a small test batch featuring chilies, cassia, cloves, and a custom spice mix.

The basic idea is to add any mixture of spices, orange peels – whatever you want really – to a high proof alcohol (the Hella Bitters guys use a 160 Proof Grain Neutral Spirit) and let it sit for ‘x’ amount of time (the time really varies depending on what you have in there too). Then, they manually tend to their production batches by shaking up the satchels of spices or stirring the mixture vigorously with a paddle.

You can also test your small batch during the process by using a dropper to get a few drips into your palms, rubbing your hands, and taking a deep breath. Of course you can taste as you go too. When your bitters are ready, just strain the liquid into a bottle and now you have a little extra something to strengthen your favorite cocktail recipe.

After we were all versed in bitters (at some base level at least), we made a few Moscow Mules featuring Absolut and Hella Bitters. Shown here is a take on the Absolut Spicy Pear Mule, which contains 1 part Paddy Devil’s Apple, 1 part Absolut Pears, lime juice, ginger beer, and Hella Bitters Ginger Lemon bitters. As cheesy as it may sound, bitters really are like the spices of cooking in the cocktail world. A little goes a long way, and adding just a few dashes can completely transform the cocktail (but still in a nuanced way).

I admit I’ve always been a bit skeptical about flavored liquors but I was surprised to find that Absolut Pears is made from natural ingredients and doesn’t contain added sugar. So the pear flavor actually tastes like a fresh pear. This particular cocktail hits a lot of my preferred elements in cocktails – it’s got a good amount of booze, no added sugar, a ginger element, and bitters.

The perfect Autumn drink.

Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with Absolut. Thank you to Hella Bitters for being awesome on this shoot and Pamela Duncan Silver for styling!

Oct 1, 2015

Rue Legouvé

I ran away to Paris for a few days and it really did feel like a sprint the whole time. Three days is just not enough time. Everyone has always said Paris in the fall is the best, and this was my first taste of that. I was greeted with super crisp chilly air and sunny days. Truly the best.

Rue Legouvé is a narrow street around the corner from Holybelly, and I poked in for a few quick shots one morning after pancakes and two rounds of coffee.


I never thought I could pull off mules (open-toed especially), but I wanted to branch out from my usual and try something new. These suede mules were a kind gift from Trademark and I love them. I walked for miles in them and felt ok! The heel is just about 3-inches and chunky without being clunky, so bring it on, cobblestone streets.

This coat is a Max Mara reversible coat, but I prefer it on the camel side – for some reason, the grey side really makes me feel like I'm wearing a bathrobe! Here's a similar style with a much friendlier price point. I like this oversized coat option too, for under $200.

I mentioned in this post I'd be wearing this mockneck with everything, and I literally have been living in it. It's held up just fine after a few washes too.

Ok, back to the grind!

Sep 23, 2015

Rent The Runway |           Artist in Residence

I'm excited to finally share the work I created for Rent the Runway's Artist in Residence series, a series in which they basically let me dream up a shoot and shoot completely in my style. This shoot was also a super fun opportunity to work with some of my favorite people. I don't shoot people very often, but when I do, I really want it to feel environmental, editorial, and still a bit still-life in nature. To me, that's the closest to keeping it to my style.

My take on this series involved a "day in the life" (a very loose interpretation and extended day, if you will) of a very busy lady, who wears many hats throughout. In this case, it was not at all an inaccurate description for my leading lady, Lisa Przystup, who is a writer and florist who happens to also look stunning in photos. I always used to think Rent the Runway was only for formal events and dresses, but it turns out they rent out all kinds of more casual looks too (not to mention accessories!). We had a great time styling a range of looks from a casual grey vest to a fiery red gown. I got to live vicariously because hey, some of those gowns were longer than I am tall. Maybe in six-inch heels I could begin to dream of pulling off one of those longer pieces. Alas. (Good thing there's plenty of short cocktail dresses for the height-challenged like myself.)

You can find all the looks on my Artist in Residence page, but I've listed out some product details as well.

Look 1: Waverly Grey Vest // Rebecca Minkoff Handbag // Gorjana Necklace
Look 2: Theory Blazer

Look 3: Rebecca Taylor Top // Tibi Culottes
Look 4: Tibi Top // Tibi Skirt

Look 5: Ronny Kobo Dress
Look 6: Milly Top // Shoshanna Skirt // Inge Christopher Clutch

But really, if only Rent the Runway existed when I was a senior in high school buying a hideous prom dress that was banished to the back of my closet, never to be seen again. Even looking back on the past few years, I've bought an embarrassing amount of pricey dresses thinking I'd get more than one use out of them, but I never do because I always want something new the next time a fancy event comes around. When will I learn!?

Look 7: Reem Acra Gown// Lulu Frost Earrings
Look 8: Cedric Charlier Gown // Elizabeth and James Cuff // Kenneth Jay Lane Ring

Look 9: Osman Jumpsuit // Rafé Clutch
Look 10: Cedric Charlier Gown

Huge gratitude to Rent the Runway for partnering on this post and giving me so much creative freedom. Many thanks too to Sixty Hotels (your Soho Loft was perfect) and Georg Jensen for lending the beautiful teapot, cups, and pitchers!