Ori Mor started Take Me Out New York Nightlife Tours in 2012. There is a Party Bus Tour ($100) but I am 50 years too old for that one. The same goes for the Night Club Tour ($180). I was interested in the Prohibition ($150) and Mixology Tours ($150). There was available space on a Wednesday night Mixology Tour and I grabbed the spot. There were two couples visiting New York from Alaska that found out about TMO through a Groupon promotion. Ori told me that sale generated close to 1,800 customers. “We did not make any money but it sure got our name out there. We don’t want to compete with the large companies doing daytime sightseeing tours and I found an unfilled niche.” I met the stretch limo in front of the Barnes & Noble bookstore on 17th & Union Square Park. Ryan Kahl was the mixologist who made and served the three drinks sampled (included) during the three-hour tour. He has developed cocktails for the Four Seasons and Waldorf Hotels, as well as Food & Wine Magazine and the TV show, Bar Rescue. He was terrific and acted as the host at the three bars we visited that night. Locations vary since they customize the tours to specific days and the dynamics of the group. We started at Bathtub Gin at 132 Ninth Ave (18-19th St).

Bathtub Gin

You enter through a coffee shop into a very noisy and jammed back room with a bathtub sitting in the middle. TMO had a table reserved where one could order food or drinks (not included in the price). There was another bar next door that was completely empty. In vs. out, a very American bar, as opposed to the more laid back French style Experimental Cocktail Club at 191 Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side.

Experimental Cocktail Club

Our last stop was The Rooftop at 230 Fifth Ave at 27th Street. It was 75 degrees at 11 PM and the view and cool breeze was welcome. What I liked was the VIP experience. We did not have to wait in line to get into the most prestigious bars in the city. With a TMO tour, all-inclusive access means skipping the lines. Also there are no cover charges. Check their website for special promotions-www.takemeoutnyc.com.

Wine & Food Festivals have become so commonplace that I don’t normally read the press releases announcing yet another event. This was different. In early June the third annual Westchester Magazine Wine & Food Weekend featured seminars by Kevin Zraly, author of  Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, and teacher extraordinaire. Rumor has it that Kevin has sold over 4 million copies of this book. I may have been teaching and writing about wine for more than 50 years but Kevin makes me look like a beginner.

Windows on the World

He is the most entertaining wine lecturer/teacher out there, bar none. That is why I wanted to drive up to the Ritz Carlton Hotel in White Plains and sit in on one of his three tasting seminars: Grand Cru Vineyards of Washington, Oregon and New York. I got there early so I could spend some time at the Grand Tasting with many wines available to sample. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The food samplings were the best I have had at any wine & food festival I have ever attended. The weekend also included the Burger & Beer Bash, a winemaker’s dinner, bartender’s shake-off, a sparkling Sunday brunch and a beer and vodka seminar.  Bravo Westchester Magazine (www.westchestermagazine.com/wineweekend).

About Ron Kapon

Ron A. Kapon

Ron Kapon has over 50 years experience in the wine & spirit field, starting with his first drink (mixed with water) at age three. His family’s business – Acker, Merrall & Condit – was established in 1820 and is the oldest wine merchant in the United States as well as the largest wine auction company in the world.

Click www.ronkapon.com to check out Ron’s website or connect with him on Facebook: Facebook: www.facebook.com/vinoron