8 Exciting Summer Events in The Hamptons and NYC
In-person events are back and better than ever.
Spectacular Longhouse Reserve Summer Gala
After a year of saying “no” to events, we finally are saying “yes.” The Longhouse Reserve aptly entitled its summer gala, SAY YES. And indeed over 400 guests said “yes” to the marvelous evening where each committed a cool $1,250 to benefit the Longhouse Reserve, the awe-inspiring 16-acre garden and nature reserve strewn with sculptures and lily ponds.
The summer gala had all the bells and whistles: a music and light show after dark by Buckminster Fuller Fly’s Eye Dome; a live movement display by dancer Huiwang Zhang; mermaids and synchronized swimmers performing in the fountains; and uniquely, a HMPTNS CBD bar, which served both alcoholic and alcohol-free cocktails. People congregated at the CBD bar, where the liquid dripped down through glass beakers, which were filled with flowers, into their tumblers.
The dress code was “colors.” Colorfully dressed guests entered the front gate though a passageway with a curtain of colored ribbons to check in and after traversing another ribbon curtain gate entered the Willem de Kooning Lawn, where a jazz band, Jazz House Kids with Melissa Walker and Chris McBride, serenaded though the earlier hours of the event. Later the Jamaican reggae band would get the party dancing till 10pm.
For the non-CBD traditional drinkers, a wine bar sponsored by Frederick Wildman & Sons, featured extremely exciting wines. What a thrill to see a Sancerre rosé from the Loire. Made from a blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Gamay, Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Rosé sported a brilliant pink hue and showed plum and herbal notes and a crisp freshness. For Chardonnay drinkers, a lovely Burgundy: JJ. Vincent’s Pouilly Fuissé “Cuvée Marie Antoinette” possessed aromas of white flowers, lemon, and apricot with a touch of oak.
To avoid any crowding, guests mingled on four large lawn areas of the Longhouse gardens and at the museum, where the Say Yes Artsy Art Auction had works by top articles including Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Ai Weiwei and Kiki Smith. In previous years the cocktail party was held only at the museum and the Willem de Kooning Lawn and then people proceeded to a big tent for dinner. This year the cocktails and dinner were combined and at each lawn there were bars and food stations, even a taco truck, which attracted many who took a number and waited for their tuna and avocado tacos in a distanced way.
The driving force behind this innovative Summer Benefit was LongHouse Reserve Co-President Dianne Benson. Every time she would book something fabulous or hire someone spectacular—the jazz band, the light show artists, the mermaids—she’d say “this is what happens when you SAY YES!” People yearned to be back together, and it seemed that no one wanted to leave the event. They danced spiritedly to Royal Khaoz reggae band until the very end. The gala raised $500,000 to support the Longhouse Reserve, which offers educational programs and scholarships.
The Four-Part Guild Hall Summer Gala
The dress code for the Guild Hall Summer Gala, which celebrated the 90th anniversary of East Hampton’s beloved theatre, museum, and educational center, was “black, white, and red-all-over.” Women brought out their spectacular red dresses and some gentlemen sported red jackets. The gala evening evolved as four separate events held at slightly different sites.
The kick-off event, the Robert Longo’s exhibition, A History of the Present, was held at Guild Hall in two adjacent galleries. The powerful exhibit displayed 17 monumental charcoal drawings. The first gallery to the left of the entrance held Longo’s Gang of Cosmos series with black and white, charcoal-based interpretations of well-known 20th century Abstract Expressionists among them Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, and Lee Krasner.
The gallery to the right displayed Longo’s Agency of Faith drawings, which dealt with subjects from our current political and environment situation. The most exciting work, which faced viewers as they entered the room, was a gigantic wave with an enormous wave tunnel. Longo created this piece expressly for the Guild Hall exhibition and it was the largest wave rendering he had done in almost a decade. Longo had been a surfer in the East End for years and powerful waves have been one of his recurrent subjects. The other monumental charcoal drawings included an American Indian headdress, a George Floyd protester with a translucent flag, and a cotton field. Masked guests viewed the exhibition and then attended the outdoor cocktail party at the back court.
The Guild Hall Summer Gala’s second cocktail party was held at an exquisite private property nearby with an enormous lawn overlooking the bay, one of the hidden sanctuaries of the Hamptons. Several bars were set up on the grounds. The featured wines were the “First Crush” white and red by Bedell. The late Michael Lynne, owner of Bedell Cellars in the North Fork, was a trustee of Guild Hall for over 25 years and his wines live on at Guild Hall events.
The passed hors d’oeuvre—lobster tacos, truffle mac & cheese bites, cherry tomatoes filled with crème fraiche topped with caviar—were plentiful. Hilaria and Alec Baldwin, Robert Longo and Sophie Chahinian, Cindy Sherman, Ugo Rondinone (Guild Hall Gala’s exhibiting artist on the pre-pandemic year), and Peter Marino mingled at the cocktail party. They would all walk over to huge tent toward the front lawn of the same private estate, where 400 guests sat down for the dinners and presentations.
What gala would be complete without dancing? The after party, the fourth part of the evening, was held in the same dinner tent. Dinner guests as well as other invitees danced spiritly to the tunes spun by MICK. The women in their fancy red dresses whirled around the dance floor with abandon till 11:00PM. The evening raised $800,000.
Parrish Art Museum’s Midsummer Dance
Nothing could be more welcome than a chance to dance. How we yearn to be near people—with no social distancing—rocking to the beat like in the “before days.” The organizers of the Midsummer Weekend to benefit the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill intuited that need-to-dance, so they kicked off their three-events over three days with a lively dance party under the pronounced eaves of the museum’s roof.
The need to dance was coupled with the need to dress up and young women brought out their long closeted, fashionable numbers for the occasion; many wore quite revealing ankle-length dresses either backless, strapless, or with plunging décolleté. And the fashions on the floor were mirrored by the fashionably designed interior, featuring an elaborate textile sculpture made from different width ribbons which festooned the beams overhead. Though it seemed like a museum commissioned an artist to create the ribbon installation, the flamboyant work was conceived by Fremont Blue Events as part of the event design.
At the bars—there were two, at the entrance and at the far right of the dance floor—magnum bottles of Whispering Angel Rosé beckoned. Whispering Angel was the brand that swept through Hamptons in the early 2000’s and ignited the rosé trend in many parts of the world so much so that LVMH bought a 55% share of Chateau d’Esclans in Provence, the winery behind this juggernaut.
And the cocktails? Harridan Vodka, a small batch, ultra-premium vodka founded in 2020, was a sponsor. Harridan’s story has all the right buzz words: it’s organic, gluten-free, made from ingredients grown by 5th generation farmers in upstate NY, and female-founded and owned (by Bridgette Taylor). It’s over-proof at 88% and defiant, named for a harridan defined as a bossy, belligerent old woman.
The tequila sponsor was Los Dos Tequila, a handcrafted, small batch tequila with no sugar or other additives, made in the highlands of Jalisco. Los Dos partnered with a five-generation agave grower and distiller. Sergio Cruz, the master distiller makes a silver that has lovely flavors of cooked agave, lemon peel and cinnamon. And surprisingly, there was a nonalcoholic aperitivo, Figlia Fiore, with citrus, black currant, and floral notes and a strong ginger kick. When mixed with a splash of soda water, it was refreshing and nonintoxicating on this balmy Friday night—a nice foil to the high proof Harrigan.
The Midsummer Dance attracted a younger crowd of benefactors, mostly in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, since the admission price was a milder $500 as opposed to the next evening’s dinner gala at $2500 a person or $100,000 for the top “Cosmos table” of 12 people. The Parrish Art Museum’s many supporters did step up and the three-day gala event (Sunday was an afternoon circus theme for families) raised $1 million.
Fork It Alzheimer’s Farm-to-Fork Event
For the second year the annual Fork It Alzheimer’s fundraising dinner was held at the huge Bridgehampton estate of Daryl and Irwin Simon, the event’s founders. Under an elaborate tent lit in purple, the color of the Alzheimer’s Association, 300 guests attended the cocktail party and dinner. It was a blissful setting for this important charity which remarkably attracted many guests 20’s and 30’s, young benefactors in training.
The event’s regular supporters— Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Steve Madden, Stew and Kim Leonard, Deanna Rockefeller, and Corey Paige Bloomberg—were all there. The Alzheimer’s Association President and CEO Harry Johns gave remarks on the latest in Alzheimer’s research at the start of dinner.
At the cocktail hour, it was difficult to save appetite for dinner and resist the passed hors d’oeuvres, especially the lobster rolls by Lunch Lobster Roll. The top shelf bar gave the spirits drinker many choices. Vodka cocktails with Sagaponacka Cucumber, made in the Hamptons, or with Svedka. For tequila drinkers: Casa Noble. For the G&T crowd: Bombay Sapphire. And for bourbon and whiskey aficionados: Glenlivet 12, Belle Meade Sour Mash Straight Whiskey Bourbon, High West Whiskey Double Rye and Maker’s Mark 46 bourbon.
The wines were sponsored by the Taub Family Vineyards. They brought wines from Marchesi Fumanelli, an historic, family-owned estate near Verona that goes back to 1470 and has vineyards in the heart of Valpolicella. A lovely white, Marchesi Fumanelli Terso Bianco, a blend of Garganega and Trebbiano Toscana, with nutty and toasty aromas and flavors of acacia and apricot, was served during the cocktail party.
From the cocktail tent guests moved into a second larger tent where long tables held an impressive center piece designed with flowers, greens, fruits, and candles which ran along the length of the extended tables. Guests enjoyed a “farm-to-fork,” family-style dinner made from all locally sourced ingredients. Marchesi Fumanelli Squarano Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2014, a bold wine with notes of dark cherry and bitter almond, paired well with the dinner’s cacophony of flavors. The event raised more than $760,000 to fund critical Alzheimer’s Association care, support, and research programs.
Southampton “Sculpture to Wear” Soireé
Some invitations are irresistible. When you are invited to an exhibition of jewelry at a stunning garden property in Southampton to hear a talk on “Sculpture to Wear,” that’s the one to accept on a Friday evening in July.
Louisa Guinness of her namesake gallery in London was broadcast live on a big screen from England in discussion with Tiffany Dubin of Sotheby’s about their collaboration to bring awareness to a new category of artist made jewelry. The “sculpture to wear” includes works by Niki de Saint Phalle, Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons, Alexander Calder, and Man Ray among many others. On stage sat artist Michele Oka Doner, Stellene Volandes, the editor of Town & Country, and art advisor Lorinda Ash, who discussed the concept of these precious artist-made necklaces, rings, pendants, pins, earrings, and bracelets.
After the talk, the guests mingled on the lawn over cocktails and an exquisite display overflowing with charcuterie, cheeses, fruits, and nuts. Then one by one the mostly women guests walked into the treasure room at the main manse which held a cornucopia of precious sculptured jewels. In early August the exhibit moved to Sotheby’s East Hampton where over 80 pieces were on display.
East Hampton Library’s Authors Night
With 23 authors in attendance under a white tent on the lawn of the East Hampton Library at 159 Main Street, this year’s annual Authors Night was a slimmed down version of the usual 100-under-the-tent event. The intimacy made for some great one-on-one discussions with the authors.
The usual procedure to navigate Authors Night is to walk around, speaking with as many authors as desired, and collecting their books, which they sign (and guests pay for as they leave the tent). My group acquired several of the newly published books among them: Bugsy Siegel: The Dark Side of the American Dream by Michael Shnayerson, a biography of the Jewish gangster who “ascended from impoverished beginning to the glittering Las Vegas Strip;” Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig’s Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz by Joshua Greene, about Siggi Wilzig, who became “one of the biggest success stories in post-World War II American business;” and Florence Fabricant’s The Ladies’ Village Improvement Society Cookbook: Eating and Entertaining in East Hampton, with 100 recipes from chefs and celebrities who live or vacation in East Hampton, among them Martha Stewart, Ian Garten, and Hilaria Baldwin.
In between conversations with authors, guests indulged in the Long Island clam and oyster raw bar and
sipped Montauk Summer Ale from Montauk Brewing Company. Other authors with new books included Amanda M. Fairbanks’ The Lost Boys of Montauk; Bill Boggs’ The Adventures of Spike the Wonder Dog: As Told to Bill Boggs; and Mike Lupica’s Robert B. Parker’s Stone’s Throw. Robert A. Caro, a big supporter of the East Hampton Authors Night, was there like every year with a slew of his titles, including Working and The Power Broker.
And Back in NYC: L.E.A.F Festival of Flowers
In mid-June people came together for one of the first inspiring events where folks could congregate safely outside. The annual L.E.A.F. Festival of Flowers celebration unfolded along the streets in the Meatpacking District.
It was a marvel to see the streets from 14th to Gansevoort Plaza to Little West 12th Street overflowing with the most wondrous floral displays. L.E.A.F. hired over 100 florists to design installations. One of the most elaborate was “Rainbow Colonnade,” adorned with anthurium, amaranthus, and eremurus as well as colorful roses, lilies, orchids. Designed by Theresa Rivera Design, the colonnade at 14th and Ninth Avenue was the focal point of the show. People saton custom wood seating and snapped photos of themselves framed by a profusion of flowers.
The walk down Gansevoort Street offered delightful whimsical street signs with a riot of flowers at their bases. A red sign reading “DREAM” had a profusion of roses below. Another sign had a longer message and captured the mood of our times. It read “BREATHE” “All we have is NOW” “RELAX ur okay.” Purple and fushia flowers crawled up its sign pole. And a favorite, “ONE WAY” in a heart shaped sign was adorned with bright yellow flowers.
Most local stores and restaurants took part in the flower festival displays. Hermès on Gansevoort Street had a floral bike and cart, designed by Renny and Reed. Dante NYC on Hudson Street hosted a floral pop-up with Perrier-Jouët Champagne, designed by Popup Florist. The restaurant Gansevoort Meatpacking on Ninth Avenue worked with The Unlikely Florist to do another pop-up with G.H. Mumm Champagne to celebrate both National Rosé Day and to benefit ROAR (Restaurants Organizing Advocating Rebuilding).
This very first annual floral celebration in NYC is the brainchild of Moira Breslin, Founder of L.E.A.F., as an organization to champion the world of horticulture. She was inspired by many global cities’ celebration of flowers and plans to curate more pop-up gardens, installations, and the flower festival to showcase florists and designers.
Opera Al Fresco at Longhouse Reserve
On another charmed August evening, the Longhouse Reserve’s lush gardens came alive for an opera performance in memorial to the friendship between the late artist Ingeborg Ten Haeff and LongHouse Reserve founder Jack Lenor Larsen, who passed away in 2020.
The event started with a cocktail party on the great lawn facing the lily pond. Guests sipped Wölffer Estate Rosé and Pinot Gris and gave themselves tours of the 16-acre garden. They roamed into the museum and the Willem de Kooning Lawn, where the annual gala had been held two weeks previously.
The group was then ushered to the performance at the Buckminster Fuller Geodesic Dome, where distanced seating had been set up for the 200 guests. Maestro Eve Queler on the piano, tenor Matthew White and soprano Teresa Castillo on vocals performed pieces by Donizetti, Gounod, Mascagni, Puccini, and Verdi. Eight selections in all were performed, among them La Donna e mobile (Verdi’s Rigoletto); Musetta’s Waltz (Puccini’s La Boheme); and the final selection performed by both singers, the Drinking Song “Brindisi” (Verdi’s La Traviata). The audience clapped appreciatively, propelling the trio back for three encores.
La Fin Kitchen & Lounge in Montauk, A New Wine-Centric Restaurant
Did anyone say, “Whispering Angel?” A new restaurant in Montauk specializes in Whispering Angel and all the other rosé releases from the Provence winery, Chateau d’Esclans. You can reserve one of the outdoor VIP lounges and order large format bottles, which include the full collection: a 1.5-liter magnum, 3-liter Jeroboam, 6-liter Methuselah, 9-liter Salmanazar, and 15-liter Nebuchadnezzar. A 3-liter bottle of Rock Angel will run $350, which can be shared with a table of friends while hanging out in the lounge overlooking the harbor.
Sommelier Erin Swain will direct you to do rosé flights where you can taste The Palm next to Whispering Angel next to Rock Angel. She might bring out a special treat, a taste of Chateau d’Esclans’ top of the line Garrus, made from single vineyard, nearly 100-year-old Grenache vines blended with Vermentino. It’s aged 11 months in French oak and undergoes bâtonnage, giving it a layered flavor quite like a white Burgundy. Garrus has become almost a cult rosé and is on the wine list for $215 at La Fin.
Located at 474 West Lake Drive, La Fin is a French farm-to-table kitchen, bar, and lounge right on the docks of Montauk harbor. Local seafood—tuna, striped bass, swordfish, and oysters from Montauk Pearl Oysters—is the main summer fare. The restaurant sources from East End farms– 8 Hands Farm, Satur Farms, and Marilee’s Farm—and surprisingly even gets its grass feed beef locally at Acabonac Farms ordering Acabonac’s 32-ounce Tomahawk Ribeye steaks.
Besides the Provence rosé offerings, the wine list is impressive and organized under Old and New World for rosés, whites, and reds. The wine prices scale way up to the Old World’s Chateau Margaux 1989, Bordeaux, at $2,100 and New World’s Joseph Phelps Insignia, Napa, at $1000.