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Super Booze Me

Jonathan Postal

Friday: It is already well into happy hour, you're still at work, and the only free liquor event you've heard about is at some place called Design Within Reach, way the hell over in Coral Gables, an arduous cross-town trek on a Friday evening, even now, at 8:30 p.m. As the virtual gridlock southbound on Le Jeune Road slows you to a stop, the prospects for even one round of happy hour stimulation seem beyond reach. You finally cross the Coral Gables city limit, make a sharp left east into the central business district, and encounter total parking space saturation. You comb the curbs -- you're already at Douglas Road -- you circle, and suddenly a guy in an SUV pulls out of a metered space. Lovely.

You stroll down Miracle Mile, pass the sidewalk mob in front of Tarpon Bend Bar & Grill, and pop into Design Within Reach a few doors down. You've just missed your friend, the documentarian, who's picking up his date at UM. Figuring he'd be occupied for the evening, he told you to use his name to get into the Michael Capponi birthday extravaganza later on South Beach. But the documentarian's buddy, a marketing genius once employed by a major New York-based cognac concern, is still here, with a female lawyer pal.

You snag the last two-by-three-inch ham sandwich and some shriveled olives from a table in the back before plopping down on a red designer sofa next to the woman. You're making poignant observations when a tiny drop of saliva spurts out of your mouth and lands on the plush fabric.

"Eeew," she says. "If that would have landed on me, I would have puked on you."

And you say, "Now that's not true."

The soiree is winding down, which is okay because there is no hard liquor within reach. Studio proprietor Tracey Coffman thanks everyone for coming; you introduce yourself and then politely point out the absence of a Bacardi spread usually featured at such events. "We did that last year. Last time we did that it was huge," she says, noting tonight it was "more of a private party."

There's bound to be free liquor at the Capponi bash.

Traversing Little Havana en route to South Beach, you have the marketing genius (MG) on the phone, relating details of an auspicious free liquor outreach situation the following night, Saturday: the opening party for the new Kevin Bruk Gallery. Bruk approached him earlier in the week, searching for a contact in the booze business to cater his relocation party. The MG called Bacardi Joe and, voila, Bacardi Joe delivered. "They're going to send a bunch of bartenders and a fucking truckload of liquor!" he tells you.

"And they don't charge for this? It's just sheer, pure promotion?" you ask.

"Yes, it's just sheer, pure promotion."

Of course Bacardi Joe has requirements, such as "the demographic."

"Okay, the art angle," you say. "Right ... The opening ... Okay, there's the art crowd, there's the Wynwood art phenomenon ... it's an opening of a significant gallery ... Fifty to seventy-five people are flying in from New York just for tomorrow night? And four of the world's biggest art collectors will be there?"

"Four actual billionaires," he emphasizes.

A hell of a demographic.

"How lowbrow would Bacardi be willing to go?" you wonder.

He pauses. "Umm. Volleypalooza," he responds, referring to the annual beach volleyball tournament featuring dozens of bikini-clad models and vast quantities of liquor.

"Oh, you invented Volleypalooza?" you reply. "Have you ever gotten credit for that? Did you make any money from it?"

He says no -- Cointreau stole the idea with the help of a local promoter.

The MG informs you he is already at his South Beach apartment, freshening up for the Capponi thing.


Setting the bar: the two-for-none special

You don't really have any hookups of your own, so you rely on your friends and their friends to penetrate hip VIP happenings.

You park near Washington Avenue and inspect the big white tent at Washington and Ninth Street. You're going to be boozing it up, so you need to eat. There might be food inside, but it's almost eleven and you shouldn't risk it. You trot down the filthy sidewalk, sidestepping a pile of gnawed-on chicken wings, and pop in to Gino's for a slice of pizza.

Ready to pose as the documentarian, you return to the Capponi party site, step onto the grassy area outside the tent, and glide right past the security guards. They couldn't care less who you are. Very cool.

You're not even inside the tent and there's nightclub impresario/developer Michael Capponi himself walking toward you. "Happy birthday," you offer, but he saunters past as if you were invisible and inaudible. You shrug and enter the tent. There are four liquor bars: three small ones on the periphery and a large circular one in the middle. You hit a smaller one at the far end, situated beneath a huge Ocean Drive banner. There are two bartenders, thus two lines, with about eight people in each. And yes, the entire Bacardi party portfolio is present.

 

It's nigh 11:00 p.m. and you've been waiting for ten minutes while the guy in front of you gets five vodka-cranberries. Five minutes later you opt for one Sapphire. "What's it good with?" you ask the hot bartender, who must be on tranquilizers to be smiling through all of this.

She goes, "Uh. Tonic?"

You go, "Uh. Okay!" To avoid waiting in line again in ten minutes' time, you quickly add: "And a Bacardi Añejo on the rocks as well, please."

You float around, double-fisting, and bump into the MG, who's with a tall blonde from Alabama and the British husband-wife duo who created cooljunkie.com.

Engaged in conversation about alcohol with the Alabama woman, you point out that scientists have learned the ethyl alcohol molecule is claw-shaped and thus can latch onto other molecules in human blood, which may help explain alcohol addiction.

After excusing yourself, and now sipping your Añejo, you embark on a tour of the tent. Capponi thanks guests for coming, reminding them about "a major after-party at Privé." Although you can't see him, you think he might be near the flying goose ice sculpture. The MG reappears with a drink in each hand and some alarming information.

"They're out of Grey Goose, except for the vanilla." That means one thing. This party is over.

"You think there's going to be free liquor at Privé?" you ask.

"No way, man!" he retorts.

The women in his party have bolted, so you both drift over to SoFi Lounge, where guys are playing pool to the musical stylings of Macy Gray. Relaxing, but no free booze. Until he buys you a drink.

You take a cab to your next venue. "South Beach is crazy. In a good ten years, there are going to be shooting and fighting," says your Haitian driver. The MG makes an emergency stop at his condo to grab some essentials. He returns with a cocktail.

The Room is your last stop, and the night closes as it began -- at some joint where the hardest liquor is wine. At 2:30 a.m. you call it a day.


Art Boozel

Saturday: It's 9:30 p.m. when you arrive at the new Kevin Bruk Gallery in the heart of the Wynwood Art District. You blow right through the first room of artworks, barely noticing the hanging silver tinsel sculpture, before pausing at a counter adorned with bottles of Grey Goose. No Bacardi, so you continue on and find, leaning against the wall, David Lombardi, who invites you to a "family and friends showing" for his upcoming Wynwood loft project. You pass an area of contemporary works, among which hangs a large black painting with "YOU DON'T SEE IT DO YOU?" painted in white, and soon find the Bacardi rum bar in a small room in back. You decide to experiment with a Ciclón (tequila-spiked rum). Behind the bar a young woman flashes a jocular middle finger at someone and then flips a plastic champagne glass in the air.

"Is juggling champagne glasses part of the act?" you ask.

"Yeah!" she yells.

People are streaming in and you've taken but one sip when Bruk himself appears with two bottles of Chandon, which he pours into a bunch of glasses. You help yourself. Bruk looks around. "Everybody," he says, raising his glass. You drink the champagne, say hi to someone whose name you can't remember, and then wander off to peruse art.

You run into the MG in the hallway. A tastemaker, he is offered a personal tour by Bruk, who now stands before a shelf bearing a plastic orange pumpkin, a greenish resin cabbage, and a metal cooking pot. "It's all about imagery, interpretation, and juxtaposition," Bruk explains.

Just in time the documentarian calls. He's at a nearby gallery with "plenty of free booze." On the hike over, you spot a small corner gallery with meager (but welcome on an empty stomach) offerings: two bottles of pinot grigio, potato chips, peanuts, and M&M's. While you nosh, you examine the natural-fiber sculpture hanging in the middle of the room, evoking a large side of beef. Standing next to the fiber-beef is David Martin, the young COO of Terra Group, conversing about real-estate prices with some classy cohorts. You grab a handful of M&M's to sweeten the palate and head next door to find the documentarian and the hard liquor.

 

Facher Arts features a completely different lineup from the Bruk gallery: Flor de Caña rum, Brugal rum, Midori melon liqueur, Stoli, Jack Daniels. Very creative and quite possibly a deliberate rupture of the Bacardi-Diageo paradigm. The bar is in the gallery's back yard, where the documentarian is conversing with his consorts around a small bonfire. He approaches you to evaluate the evening so far.

"The snacks at Kevin Bruk's were pretty lacking," he asserts, as a fire juggler performs nearby. "The question you might want to raise is why the galleries are not cognizant of the food. Why do they not have free food to rival the free booze? The prosciutto always sucks massively."

You are not feeling quite well enough to order another cocktail just yet, perhaps owing to your five-course meal of Ciclón, champagne, chips, peanuts, and M&M's. You toss down a Fuze fruit beverage, agree to meet the documentarian later, and then hit the expansive World Arts Building a block south.

You head straight for the Bacardi installation, where your inquiring mind ponders which rums in the Bacardi portfolio are most popular. Per the sizzling young lady behind the bar: Limon, Coco, Gold, Añejo. "And the sugarless rum," she adds, noting that when it's mixed with Diet Coke, the result is a "no-carb" cocktail. You are skeptical but order a taste of this sugarless rum along with your main order: Bacardi Limon, splash of Coke.

You sip, view paintings, and take in a large Sphinx-like sculpture made of translucent orange resin and illuminated from within. You carry another round to the second floor, where you listen to Beast, back in Miami after a four-year transcontinental odyssey, expound upon his Animal Husbandry Series (several tableaux of tiny plastic livestock figurines in various states of slaughter). Downstairs again, you gaze at his splatter paintings as he explains how each was inspired by indigenous peoples he hung with during his sojourn. You grow impatient because now you are way late to meet the documentarian and a group of Ford models for a party at some new South Beach hotel.

When you finally arrive at the hotel -- Sanctuary -- security tells you the party is over. Armed with information that it's not -- the documentarian just phoned from "the Ford models room" -- you drop the name of the documentarian's friend who works for the agency. You're in.

Your search for Room 105 leads you up several flights of stairs. Small groups of happily drunken men and women are milling about on every floor, including the roof, where you find a bar serving complimentary 23-year-old Ron Zacapa Centenario, a Guatemalan rum. Definitely for tastemakers, you nod, as you order one with a splash of Coke. On the fourth floor you pass South Beach trendsetter par excellence Tommy Pooch acting giddy and wearing an orange shirt with Danger printed across the chest. With partners Alan Roth and Ingrid Casares, Pooch promotes Sanctuary.

"Tommy! What's this all about?" you ask.

He throws up his arms. "You know -- you can own, or you can rent," he says. "But you're going to have to know somebody to check in. You know, the family in Cleveland can't call and...." He delivers the punch line: "It's a sanctuary."

You realize Room 105 is on the ground floor. You enter and find exactly three dudes and zero female models. One of the guys is a doctor friend of the documentarian's, and for the next half-hour he tells a series of depressing stories about soldiers he's treating and their various ailments contracted during the war in Iraq. After that, feeling slightly ill yourself as the clock strikes 2:00 a.m., you call it quits.

La crème de la beer

Wednesday: You receive an e-vite from Matt Hein, with Eastside Public Relations, to attend a party hosted by Heineken and Lenny Kravitz on Star Island.

MEDIA ALERT! MEDIA ALERT! MEDIA ALERT!

The Heineken Green Session Events are a series of private parties held inside the country's hottest clubs and lounges. With specialized décor, exclusive DJs, and an ambient vibe that appeal [sic] to trendsetters, the Heineken Green Session Events connect the brand directly to this influential audience in a relevant and credible manner.

You RSVP, but because you are a trendsetter, tastemaker, and bohemian, you also seek understanding. You call Hein.

"They're more or less, like, creating these events and creating these kinds of things around after-parties, like for concerts, record-release parties, these kinds of things all around the country," he explains. "So the first one is happening for Lenny out at Thomas Kramer's house," he adds.

 

"So is this like the new paradigm for marketing?" you inquire.

"Absolutely. One hundred percent. It's the idea of bringing in some sort of a, getting a kind of brand association, you know what I mean? So it's just kind of living the life of a Heineken beer drinker, with celebrities in mansions. That kind of an idea. They'll do it in LA and in Malibu. In New York they've taken over a loft. All kinds of stuff," he informs.

"So not your typical Irish bar, like Finnegan's."

"Definitely not."

"Like what kind of crowd are you going for at this event tonight?"

"This one would be very upscale. It's all about brand association. So if you see a lot of people drinking Heineken, you have a good night, you go home -- for some reason Heineken in your mind is just that much more of a fun thing. It ups the hip appeal." He says there will be hard liquor too, but probably hidden away. "You want it to look like a Heineken bar, but you can order other stuff."

You phone the documentarian.

"This is a creative marketing event for Heineken," you relay.

"Uh huh," he grunts.

"Hosted by Lenny Kravitz. I don't know if he's playing or if he's just going to be there. It's the first Heineken Green Session in the world. It's something new."

"The Green Session?"

You recite the details: the vibe, the appeal, and the credibility factor.

"You know, that's because for a lot of these promotions, the credibility level is very low," the documentarian interprets.

"Not this one."

"So it's already set apart. That sounds really interesting. I don't know if I'm really in Star Island garb."

"I think it's probably just, you know, casual," you say.

"I guess so. With Heineken, too, it's not going to be a black-tie affair."

He says he feels "kind of an obligation to go as a Heineken drinker. I'm game."

"You gotta help uplift the brand, you know."

"Yeah, I want to do that, I've been wanting to do that for a while. Okay, that sounds great."

When you arrive at 5 Star Island about 10:00 p.m., Kravitz security personnel have set a draconian tone at the entrance gate, but you enter the compound without incident. Local entertainment media line a red carpet just inside, anxiously awaiting the arrival of celebrity guests expected to include Kravitz, a guy named Mario from American Idol, and some chick named Sara Foster.

You meander across a huge quadrangle of red brick that narrows alongside the mansion and leads to a three-level terrace overlooking Biscayne Bay. Bartenders are bustling around three bars -- one on the top level of the terrace, one on the middle level, and one by the swimming pool near the water's edge -- but not quite ready to serve. So you wander about and study the décor. Black pillows with a stylishly embroidered red star and Heineken logo adorn a bedlike sofa on one side of the pool. Opposite, the star and logo are fuzzily projected onto a tall wall covered in ivy, and a green light resembling a Heineken bottle illuminates the trunks of palm trees. Like the bottoms of beer bottles, green flood lights pound into your eyes.

The documentarian arrives, the bars open, and the waiters begin circulating, loaded with trays of Heineken. You nab one. The bar is offering glasses of Ste. Michelle champagne, but no hard liquor.

"Whose house is this?" the documentarian asks.

"I think it's Thomas Kramer's," you say.

"It doesn't seem evil enough to be Thomas Kramer's," he replies, familiar with the German developer's reputation for bringing Portofino Tower and various petty assault incidents to South Beach in the Nineties.

You're checking out a large champagne bottle in a glass case on a black pedestal alongside the house when the documentarian encounters an acquaintance, a frisky male Ford model wearing a green basketball jersey. He boasts he just arrived with a busload of babes from the agency. The documentarian notifies him he's at a Heineken promotion.

"What? I don't give a fuck about Heineken!" the male model declares. He becomes even more despondent when he learns there is no hard liquor. "I can't get drunk on Heineken! " he exclaims. "I can't even get drunk doing bong hits with Heineken!"

You've consumed two beers, gotten sleepy, and thus shifted to champagne by the time the MG arrives with two babes at 12:05 a.m. "I Wonder if I Take You Home" by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam echoes mournfully off the mansion and patio walls, and he is thrilled. "I'm never leaving!" he shouts. "I'm going to chain myself to the seawall!"

 

The bay breeze is delicious, models are dancing to loud pulsating music, you continue to pound Ste. M, and the green flood lights continue to pound your eyes.

"This is a very New York crowd," Gigi Ganatra, Terra Group's vice president of marketing, informs you. Michael Mann and Jamie Foxx are supposedly somewhere. Kravitz appears for about ten minutes.

At 2:40 a.m. you're outside the gate with about 50 other people awaiting the return of their vehicles. The male model in the green basketball jersey is there whooping it up. With a bottle of Heineken. Cool!

At 3:10 a.m. a valet pulls up in your fourteen-year-old SUV. You climb in and hand him two bucks. "Sir, it's five dollars," he says sternly. Mandatory paid valet service. Uncool!


Highbrow lowball

Thursday: It's already 7:30 p.m. when you rush out of the office. You have to get over to Casa Casuarina (née Versace mansion) for the inaugural Miami Beach Arena Polo World Cup kick-off reception. You plan to stop by the Cuervo & Ginger Ale Clubhouse on Collins Avenue and slam a free tequila first, but it's closed, so you make your way to Ocean and Eleventh.

You meet resistance from security on the infamous Casa Casuarina steps, but a female PR expert facilitates entry and then disappears into the party. A small bar on the front terrace catches your eye.

"What's in the silvery bottle?" you ask, nodding at one in an icy steel cylinder.

"Level vodka," the bartender replies.

A pool of anxiety forms in your stomach as you experience a flashback. You renounced the evil spirit one year ago after consuming an untold number of vodka-somethings and "misplaced" your car. The next day you decided to lay off the hard stuff for a while.

But that was then, and now you spy some cans of Red Bull. So you order a Level and Red Bull. You're enjoying this refreshing beverage as Reto G. Gaudenzi, managing director of Casa Casuarina and former captain of the Swiss polo team, takes a microphone and extends a warm welcome to partygoers before introducing a covey of luminaries: Swiss watch executives, local jewelry magnates, real-estate moguls, and a caviar dealer resembling William F. Buckley. In a word, tastemakers. As must be you.

Gaudenzi invites all to "a great party" at the Hotel Victor next door in a few minutes. Just before the bar closes, you order one more vodka-n-Bull and chat with Ellen Marchman, the very stylish principal of Get Ink Public Relations. She recalls the highly successful Grey Goose Tastemakers event right here at Casa Casuarina this past November, featuring Flavor Flav and several international bartenders who had flown in to receive Condé Nast awards for new drink recipes using Grey Goose-flavored vodkas. That was a big score for Bacardi, which had recently added Grey Goose to its powerhouse lineup. But here at the first annual Miami Beach Arena Polo World Cup, it is all Southern Wine & Spirits, Bacardi's local nemesis.

The Casa Casuarina front terrace is suddenly empty, so you hustle over to the stunningly renovated Hotel Victor and climb the stairs to the second-story roof-top bar, which you soon discover is a non-free-liquor zone this evening. The place is getting cramped. It's hot all right, from all the people. Claustrophobia encroaches. Then the MG text-messages you. He's caught at the velvet rope with three babes, wondering if you can get them in. And you have absolutely no sway with the menacing security men.


Lowbrow Highball

Saturday: It's now past 7:00 p.m., the polo matches on the beach have ended, and with the benefit of another two Level vodka and Red Bulls in your system, you decide to see if anyone's home at the Cuervo & Ginger Ale Clubhouse on Collins. You walk past the Clevelander at Tenth and Ocean, notice the Bass Ale banners, then the shouting DJ onstage beside a row of women in thong bikinis. The Bass tastemakers set.

When you arrive at the clubhouse, not only do you find it open but you also catch 26-year-old Rebecca Quiñonez, U.S. Concepts' tequila brand ambassador for Florida, just as she is about to split. U.S. Concepts handles "street team" and other marketing strategies for Diageo, José Cuervo's global distributor.

You ask her about the demographic for the clubhouse project. "Skewed," she says. That's for sure, you think. Skewed, however, comes straight from the professional marketing playbook. "Cuervo and ginger cocktails are basically skewed to the younger demographic. We're targeting the 21- to 29-year-old male consumer," she reveals. "So instead of losing that consumer to the wine, to the scotch, to the cognac brands, we want to capture them. We're capturing the women. We're losing the men after they stop doing their shots of tequila, after they stop doing the shots and the getting-crazy-and-drinking stage of their lifestyle.

 

"This is a test market," she continues. "We have four major test regions: Miami, Dallas, Chicago, and LA."

Quiñonez introduces you to another concept: good-time drinking. "Good-time drinking is basically when you go out with the buddies," she says. "You're watching the game, the World Series, football."

You ask her what bad-time drinking would be, but she tells you that the opposite of good-time drinking is "white tablecloth" drinking. "I mean, we're not going to be in the wine and champagne category. We're going to be in the good-time drinking. Instead of ordering the beer, they're going to order the Cuervo and ginger. That's why those two major bars, the Clevelander and Wet Willie's, are like the epitome of where we should be. That's exactly where we want to be."

And exactly where you don't. But Rebecca gets it, and so does Diageo. You are what they call an "urban sophisticated" consumer; you drink "premium" and "ultrapremium" brands.

"The tastemakers are definitely that sophisticated crowd you want. That trade crowd. The key gatekeepers. Those are the key influencers you definitely want," she posits.

You mention the world premiere of Heineken's Green Sessions. She yawns. "I just yawned, I'm sorry. Wow," she recovers. You say it's because she heard the word Heineken, which doesn't exactly make models flock to the bar either. You note there was no hard liquor, and the only alternative to beer was champagne. "It was all champagne then," she confidently infers.

But she must rush off to the Guess store to buy a belt. And you have an engagement at Casa Casuarina. On your way back you pass B.E.D., which is so cool it doesn't need to have its brand on the awning, and notice Groovy's Pizza. Forget Gino's. You order a slice of the meat lover's and see the stem of a Corona bottle through the glass door of the cooler.

"Do you have Heineken?" you ask the guy. He does.

"Eight dollars," he says. Four for the slice, four for the bottle of beer.

Damn.

After consuming the slice and emptying the green bottle, you head down Washington Avenue. Your blood sugar has plunged again. The Level and Red Bull wore off long ago and the Heineken is not helping. And you've really got "to go."


Ultraskewed sophisticate

You approach Casa Casuarina and at the sight of a small mob feel a pang of entrance anxiety. But you slip through an opening in the velvet rope behind a woman who flashed a press pass to the man in black. You walk up the stone steps through the black gate, barely noticing a little humanoid statue holding his head in some kind of grief-stricken yoga position, because he is on the terrace floor and two cheery young women in black pants and black tank tops are standing at your eye level and smiling at you. One holds a tray with a plastic champagne glass on it.

"Champagne and Red Bull?" she asks.

"Okay," you say, flattered. You discern the words Red Bull in red lettering just below the neckline of their shirts. "What kind of champagne is it?" you ask. They shrug, still smiling. "But you definitely know it's Red Bull," you jest, lamely. They giggle politely.

You stride through a passageway and suddenly you're above the breathtaking sunken garden and pool, teeming with people and hip DJ sounds. It looks like a palace in Italy, with statues of the human form and exquisite tiles all over the place. To your left, in a small terrace area overlooking the patio, a group of twelve is dining at a long table. Must be the polo tourney executive committee and guests. You descend the stone stairway to the patio level and zigzag through the crowd toward one of two large round tables of food in the middle of the swarm. "Salmon dip?" a woman stationed at the table asks. "Okay." She plops about four tablespoons' worth onto your plate.

You make it through half of the salmon dip, but now you're out of champagne and Red Bull. Sure would be nice to have a little champagne to punctuate the salmon flavor. You make your way back to the bar on the front terrace of the mansion to avoid the crowd. You get there and stand behind a woman in a flaming coral-orange backless mini-dress. She must be five feet tall, you surmise, and that's in her stiletto heels, which have thin white straps studded with coral-colored stones to match her dress. She is with four other women and informs you they are ordering five shots of Patron Silver tequila. "It's my friend's birthday," she explains. You scan the bottles behind the bartender. Sure enough, there's a bottle of Jim Beam Black. But you're going to stick with the champagne and Red Bull.

 

You finish the salmon dip and the champagne and RB, and now you simply must go to the cloakroom. It's inside Casa, in a room off the foyer, and there are a couple of guys ahead of you. You and the guy behind you are trying to determine if two other locked doors in the cloakroom also lead to little bathrooms. The dude ahead of you, sporting a pink linen shirt, black pants, and black sandals, turns around. It is none other than Kevin Bruk. He informs you that during parties at Casa Casuarina, only one of the cloakroom bathrooms is open, even though a light is visible under the door of one of the others. "That's just to confuse people," he jokes.

You stroll back into the courtyard foyer and observe Miami Police Chief John Timoney, in civilian clothes, standing by himself near the bust of Plato, and can't help but think the chief looks a little perturbed. Maybe he hasn't discovered that the real party is in the garden, or perhaps he is avoiding open areas for security reasons. You avoid him.

You head back down the stairs to the pool area, forcing a smile on your face, saggy from the Level-n-Bulls you had at the polo match this afternoon plus your rounds this evening. You notice a few faces from the Heineken affair on Star Island and then discover the other large round food table has big slabs of prime rib and a guy in a chef's hat serving it. Gotta try the prime rib, with a dollop of mild horseradish sauce. There's no place to sit; you're trying to figure out where to set your plate so you can slice the meat. On a statue pedestal? How gauche. You find, on the east end of the garden, a platform holding a couple of small spotlights for an upcoming fashion show. You sit on the platform and begin slicing into your meat, now smeared in horseradish. You hope no one sees, but two women dancing directly next to you do.

"You two are really letting loose!" you marvel.

"We're dancers," one replies.

You quickly finish your prime rib, just in time for the fashion show. They're coming out in staggered pairs, one model appearing on the left, crossing the stage to the right and stopping; another model appearing on the left; and then they strut past each other like little ships in the night.

"That one's my favorite," one guy says after several rounds of crisscrossing.

"Really?" his buddy replies. The buddy's wife complains about another model's enhanced lips.

At 10:45 p.m., midway through the show, one model is unaware she is having a Janet Jackson moment but is deftly rescued by the crisscrossing model who, without breaking stride, pulls the aqua-colored satin fabric draping from her colleague's shoulder back over her right breast. There is no whooping from this refined crowd, only murmurs of delight, big grins, and wide-open eyes, including the exposed model's, which radiated a mixture of mirth, embarrassment, and horror as she continued to smile through the gaffe. Soon the performance is over, the models are all clapping onstage, you're clapping too, and the designer takes a bow.

Your internal energy has plummeted again. Time to refuel. Another Level-n-Bull perhaps. At the foot of the stairs you spot Anastasia, femme fataleperformance artistsupersize eyewear enthusiast all rolled into one hell of a woman, chatting with someone, holding the lacy fringe of her long gown. She looks you in the eyes and, with a flick of her head, exclaims, "Stay away!" You feel the material of her frock scrape your right forearm as you hasten by, Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" giving way to The Cure's "Just Like Heaven."

When you reach the bar, one of the dancers you met while chewing prime rib is there. "So what did you think?" she asks. "Excellent," you say. "I have only good things to say about that performance."

The dancer drinks only scotch, she informs. You order a Level vodka but at the last second opt for a splash of cran in lieu of the Red Bull. Cran is cleansing and you might not want too much taurine in your system. You lounge alone for a while in a chair on the front patio, facing the wall that separates Casa Casuarina from the outside world on Ocean Drive. You spy a pair of hands clasping two of the gilded acorns that adorn the black ironwork atop the wall; a woman's head pops up for a split second to get a glimpse of the compound. The word about this party must really be getting out, you surmise, and sip contentedly.

 

You mill about mindlessly for another hour. You need to rehydrate. You trek back out to the front terrace bar. It's 12:15 a.m. and the sole bartender is moving in slow motion. You determine from his body language he must be exhausted from the demands of three hours-plus of nonstop pouring. An impatient woman is hounding him from one end of the short bar, so you step up to the other end, next to a slender young dark-haired woman clad in tight jeans and the stylish official black tank top of the Miami Beach Arena Polo World Cup 2005. You are delighted: She is the model who experienced the wardrobe malfunction. You pause and take a deep breath.

"Excellent performance," you say. She thanks you, smiling pleasantly. Pause. "I'm sorry, but I couldn't help but notice you had a Janet Jackson moment up there," you add. She nods. You try to express empathy by asking what goes on backstage when something like that happens. She says it was pretty crazy back there. You say she must be exhausted. She says they've been there since 2:00 p.m., and all day long they could drink only water or Red Bull. You wonder if the models are required to remain at the party after their performance. She nods.

"But now there are drinks, so why leave?" she reasons.

"Yeah," you reply.

Sophistication requires that you cease speaking with the model; then you do the bartender a favor by pulling the last can of Red Bull from the chilled water in a stainless steel cylinder on the bar and walk away. The bartender, slouching over someone's round of drinks, doesn't even notice.

Back in the garden, people are crazed. Some are beginning to get cranky. They want more to drink, but all that's left is Red Bull, other types of soda, and tonic. You see empty bottles of Tanqueray 10 and Level. You just want water. During the evening, you had noticed an unopened one-liter glass bottle of Evian chilling in a pewter bowl on a small wooden stand on the terrace with the dining table. You are so thirsty you resolve to help yourself. But you can't even find a plastic cup at the bars. You might have to guzzle directly from the bottle. You wander over, pick it up, and begin to twist off the plastic cap. A man snatches it from your hands.

"That's for the party here," he scolds.

"Oh. I just wanted a sip," you say.

He walks off and sets it on the dining table. The sophisticate locates a fine crystal goblet, opens the bottle, fills the glass, and takes a nice long drink, pretending you don't exist. Ultrapremium!

DJ Irie shifts gears into Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot," but you head for the exit. You stop at the front bar and ask the bartender how many bottles he went through. He thinks you want another drink.

"We're closed, sir."

You ask again, like an annoying jerk.

"How many bottles? I don't know. I'm so tired," he mutters.

You tell him, "I know. It's like you've been out playing polo for three days."

You hit Washington Avenue and pick up a flyer from the sidewalk. It's for a new club called The Drink. "The new hot spot. Complimentary admission with flyer before midnight. Hip-hop. R&B. Free shots for girls before midnight. One-dollar beer for the guys."

Maybe tomorrow night.


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