25 things you need to do, see, or eat before Summer
Hemingway once wrote: "When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest." He probably then went on to get really depressed by his mean European friends, but he was still right: Spring means the cold is dead, which means all you have to do is figure out where to get a beer in the sun. Or have a brisket picnic. Or host a private Road House screening party fueled by nachos.
Slam Dunk Sausage at DBGB: In honor of March Madness, Daniel Boulud's throwing a March 20th Sausage Slam: a family-style house-made links dinner rounded out by new Bronx Brewery releases. Your mission: make like 1988 Danny Manning, and carry your team to the championship. Then blow out your knee and just keep eating sausages all spring.
Do Whatever You Do at The Electric Daisy Carnival (May 17-18): Any music festival that offers cabana seating is a festival you need to be at, so you can say things like “Who sits in a cabana at a music festival? What a bunch of jerks!” But seriously, you should go for cabana seating; it's way better than all other seating except the VIP Ferris Wheel.
Bellyflop into La Piscine: Celebrate the Hotel Americano rooftop's first re-transformation from their winter incarnation back into a poolside Mediterranean grill by consuming one lobster, one onglet steak, and select samplings from their mezcal bar, making you the Catch of the Day.
Host a La Gringa Screening Feast: The easy call: hit up weekend brunch for pulled chicken & fried egg chilaquiles. The one that takes just the right amount of planning: gather 6-20 of your friends, and you can bring your own DVD for them to screen, be it Point Break or Surf Ninjas: whichever goes better with margaritas and $7 32oz cans of beer.
Get Raw at Haven:The Sanctuary Hotel rooftop's launching two programs, neither of which involve Lattimer getting a place at the table: a raw bar with oysters, clams & sushi, and an outdoor film series called Movies in Midtown.
Impress Soccer Fans at China Latina: Ascend Hotel Indigo resto's aerial bar & lounge, Dragones, for live-band-paced Brazilian Brunch Parties. Definitely call the chef behind the all-you-can-eat buffet “Seve” even though her name is Julieta Ballesteros, and also definitely take advantage of all-you-can-drink caipirinhas doled out by “soccer girls”.
Prospect for Meat with Fletcher's Brooklyn Barbecue: Order up a to-go picnic lunch of chopped brisket/pork sandwiches to take to Prospect Park. While waiting, try some of their new Widow's Mint Julep and the Bourbon & Bacon Bloody Barry. Then decide you also need to try their new BBQ lamb even though it doesn't come as part of a picnic lunch. Whatever, improvise.
Optimus Oysters at S Prime: You should just destroy the LIC joint's Tues-Sat, 4-7p happy hour, which features $1 Long Island Sound Blue Points, and 1/2-price drinks. Also happening: their first-annual clam bake, which for a few more clams'll include Maine lobster.
Pig-Face Out at Restaurant Marc Forgione: Right now, ask yourself why you wouldn't want to eat an entire pig's face prepared by an Iron Chef winner. If you can't come up with a good answer, come here on Thursdays and get freaky with mug de porcelet.
Gain Mass Under the Stars at The Strand Smokehouse: The Strand has more outdoor square footage than the other Strand has books, adding a 600sqft, picnic-tabled front yard to their 3000sqft back beer garden. After settling down with a maple- & hickory-smoked brisket, two-time it with the revamped “Late Night Charcuterie” menu, which doesn't kick in until 11pm.
Make Somebody Cry Like a Baby at Pod 39: Seriously. Just keep slamming little white balls home at the just-completed hotel lounge until your opponent tries to institute a no-slam rule, a request you'll answer with another slam. Then he'll start crying, and you can be all like, “You're crying like those babies on the wall, except those babies aren't even crying!”
Pole Vault to Pera SoHo's Rooftop...: ... using meat-on-a-stick. How this is possible: until this Spring, the Turkish resto's rooftop was only open for private events. They're now gonna start throwing invitation-only Thu-Sat parties. How you wrangle this invite is a bit uncertain, but they will say that having a dinner reservation doesn't hurt.
Bowl at Pig and Khao: Nobody knows why people in Hong Kong slurp beer out of bowls, except for maybe the 7,071,600 people in Hong Kong. In any event, P&K really wants you to turn its back beer garden into a slurp-fest as you fill and refill your alternative drinking vessel with brew from $15 all-you-can-drink kegs. Oblige them.
Get Sprayed at the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center: Word on whichever street knows about this stuff is that the owner of this 200,000sqft LIC warehouse is trying to take it condo, so head out now to see a staggering demonstration of spray-paint art. Then tell that Jim Joe kid, “I've seen real spray-paint art, and you're no spray-paint artist”, and maybe he'll quit tagging your dumpster.
Get Nuked at the NYC Coffee and Tea Festival (March 23rd-24th): At some point along this gauntlet of joy, you're going to need to put down your cocktail or beer and caffeinate, so why not at an event that'll feature 60+ global purveyors of beans & leaves, and a former nuclear submarine officer named Peter Martino who'll teach you how to infuse tea into cocktails, or beer?
Timbuk2 & Red Hook Crit (March 30th): Were you thrilled by that Joseph Gordon-Levitt bicycle movie that people only watched on airplanes? Then spectate the hell out of this unsanctioned fixed-gear night race, where 200 riders will practice “the underground art of street racing”, and you'll practice the underrated art of beating them all to the after-party to collect a free Klean Kanteen steel pint.
Get Crafty at the NYC Craft Beer Festival (March 30th): Attend Session 1 (12:30-4p) of this Spring Seasonals gathering of 75 American breweries (and 150 beers). Then pop over to Stone Creek Bar for an American Arnold, with Wild Turkey American Honey, iced tea & lemonade. Do not drink the Mango Cosmo. That would be a mistake. Then roll back over for Session 2 and offer the crowd tickets to the Innis & Gunn show.
Make a Choice: Yankees & Mets Home Openers (April 1st): Yanks vs Boston is at 1:05. Mets vs Padres is at 1:10. Theoretically you could see both, if the theorist is Einstein. If you're an NY newcomer only halfheartedly attached to your hometown Royals, this is a good day to decide which team you're really going to follow, and which you're going to be “happy for” if they make the playoffs.
Practice Tradecraft at Spy: The Exhibit (closes April 7th): Put on the best Tom Cruise outfit ever (a pair of underwear), then attempt to navigate this exhibit's actual laser field. After you're sliced to pieces, check out too-cool exhibit items like a robotic flying dragonfly, a German ENIGMA machine, and the ice axe that killed Trotsky even though he was in Mexico where they don't have much ice.
Get Stuffed/Cultured at the High Line: Check out Broken Bridge II, a 37ft-high, 157ft-wide installation by the El Greco of West Africa, El Anatsui. Then take untoward advantage of The Taco Truck, Melt Bakery, and five other vendors, plus beer & wine at the open-air café (all coming April 18), plus the return of Terroir on the Porch (May 16).
Get Cagey at The Nitehawk Cinema (May 1st): It's a good thing The Nitehawk serves gourmet beef jerky and craft beer. You'll need plenty of both to maximize your enjoyment of this double feature: 1973's The Wicker Man, an incredibly weird cult film about dancing naked pagans starring Christopher Lee, followed by 2006's The Wicker Man, an incredibly weird Nicolas Cage film about dancing naked pagans, starring Nicolas Cage.
Dominate the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (May 17th - 21st): Bartender Jason Littrell, on why this will be the best week of your life: “The Classic is an effing epic, ridiculous, occasionally debauched five-day blast. Whether you're just a dude looking for a novel excuse to drink awesome booze in the name of cultural education, or a bartender looking to blow off steam -- or a more serious sort of person actually looking to learn a thing or two about what's in your glass -- it's just a damn good time to be running around NYC. The only problem is pacing... five days, hundreds of events... best to strap on a CamelBak and fill your flask with caffeine.”
Refuse to Use the Space Bar at the Toyota SummerNationals: Drag racing is everything that's awesome about NASCAR, minus the annoying driving-around-in-circles thing. Plus John Force has like 15 hot daughters competing even if Ashley Force Hood doesn't come back this year after having her 2nd child. Unless you're already going deaf, you have no excuses. Get there May 30th-June 2nd.
Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club: Opening at the end of May, you'll want to retire to this massive BK spot that'll be rocking 10 shuffleboard courts, growlers of Rum Punch, live music (Yacht Rock!), rotating food trucks, and "Vespa Night".
Shoot the Moon at Governor's Ball (June 7th-9th): Tell everybody who'll listen, and everybody who won't, that you were into Moon Hooch way before them, and that they don't know a damn thing about real Cave Music. Both of these things will be true, because Moon Hooch is the last-billed act in this massive, 3-day lineup, and Moon Hooch plays Cave Music. Traveling this Spring? Check out Thrillist's guides to LA and San Francisco.