Some location scout shots that I snapped from this week’s shoot in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Got to finish the project with a fantastic meal at a really unique restaurant, Flora Farms.

This past Summer I went to Australia to direct an ad campaign (see film page) for Carlton Crown Lager with the fine folks of Clemenger BBDO Melbourne. I spent a good amount of time in the city, but also saw much of the Victorian countryside whilst scouting and on production. I had the great pleasure of working with so many lovely people that became fast friends. In addition to being taken to my first Footy match (Go Bombers), I ate and drank well. Here is a list of places that I visited and would be more than happy to find myself in again.

Cherry Bar (Melbourne, CBD)
A very cool, proper rock and roll bar/venue on the cobble stoned and graffiti covered AC/DC Lane (named after the band).

Chin Chin (Melbourne, CBD)
Probably the best Southeast Asian food I’ve ever had and amazing cocktails.

Long Grain (CBD/Chinatown, Melbourne)
Fantastic Thai food.

The Grace Darling Hotel (Collingwood, Melbourne)
I ended up here on more than one occasion. The Grace Darling is a particularly cool bar/venue in one of my favorite neighborhoods of the city.

The Rooftop Bar (CBD/Chinatown, Melbourne)
A sort of hard-to-find outdoor rooftop oasis of a bar/cinema in the very unique Curtin House Building.

Journal Cafe (CBD, Melbourne)
On my first day in Melbourne, my producer took me out for a nice, quick lunch here. If in the CBD, this is a wonderful little spot to grab a snack or coffee. The cafe is adjoined to the city library.

Cookie (CBD/Chinatown, Melbourne)
Had great cocktails and yummy finger food before heading upstairs to The Rooftop Bar for more drinks. Also, in the Curtin House Building.

Joe’s Shoe Store (Northcote, Melbourne)
A really cool place to get drinks with a locals vibe in the hip neighborhood of Northcote.

Builders Arms Hotel (Fitzroy, Melbourne)
Fitzroy is another great neighborhood and is located just next to Collingwood. The Builder’s Arms Hotel is a modern bistro of the farm to table variety.

The Everleigh (Fitzroy, Melbourne)
The best cocktails I had in Melbourne. This place is quite special - a sort of modern take on a speakeasy with ornate Art Deco design and serious attention to detail (both the drinks and atmosphere).

The Cullen Hotel (Prahran, Melbourne)
This is the where I stayed when in Melbourne. The Cullen is a modern artsy hotel that doesn’t take itself too seriously - not too large, not too small. A rather nice place to stay really, and it’s just a few blocks from the main drag of Chapel Street. The hotel hosts two restaurants - a cafe/ restaurant called Gramercy Bistro and HuTong (really good Chinese food).

Tall Timber (Prahran, Melbourne)
This was the lovely little cafe up the block from where I was staying. I stopped in a few times for a really nice coffee and breakfast.

Great Britain Hotel (Richmond, Melbourne)
A good proper pub and venue in the neighborhood of Richmond.

Bull and Mouth Hotel (Horsham, Victoria)
To be honest, this is a tiny town in the middle of nowhere surrounded by lots of farm land. It was the closest place to our shooting location to stay and eat . My crew and I went two nights in a row. One night I had the lamb shank which was pretty darn good. The other night, I ate the largest steak I have ever seen in my life. I wouldn’t mind stumbling back to this hole-in-the-wall pub/restaurant.

The Buffalo Hotel (Myrtleford, Victoria)
There’s nothing remarkable to mention about this place other than the fact that it was the only place in this tiny farm country town to eat in.

The Dispensary (Bendigo, Victoria)
In the sleeply town of Bendigo, a few of my crew and I found this unexpected spot down a little alley way. They specialize in all kinds of imported beers and serve really nice farm to table fair.

Little Africa (Melbourne, North Melbourne)
Hands down the best Ethiopian food I’ve ever had. They deliver to the bar next door - Prudence.

Prudence (North Melbourne)
A homey bar with a gorgeous beer garden and rather hip energy about it, set in an old row home. You can get Ethiopian food delivered to you from Little Africa.

Last week, I released The Beekeper, the third film in the Made by Hand series. Local urban farmer Megan Paska has witnessed beekeeping as it morphed from an illegal (and possibly crazy) habit to a sustainable, community-supported skill. Mirroring beekeeping’s own ascendance, she found more than just a living: “This is the first time in my life when I’ve just felt absolutely on the right path.”

 

 

Thursday evening, we debuted our first film — on the Breuckelen Distilling Company — at Studiomates, the collaborative workspace in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Since so much of the inspiration behind Made by Hand has come from the creative community in Brooklyn, this was a special opportunity for us. We’re exceedingly grateful to the people of Studiomates — and the makers in Brooklyn and elsewhere who inspire us every day.

We’re pleased now to release our first film into the world; go and watch it now. Brad Estabrooke’s tale is one of knowing you could fail, and moving ahead anyway — perhaps the most important ethos of the handmade spirit. We’re thankful to Brad for also joining us last night and sharing his gin and company.

Our next film — on local knife maker Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn — is in production now. Joel talks about finding himself at the intersection of the handmade and food movements (“I hit the jackpot,” he says) and more.

And as we head into the Fall, we’re talking to more makers in Brooklyn and nearby as we seek out subjects for subsequent films. Our hope is that you find these portraits as inspiring as we do.

Best,
Keef

The old-world concept of a tavern providing food, drink and lodging has been revived by the folks behind Chicago’s Longman & Eagle. Recently, six design-conscious rooms were made available for overnight stays ranging from $75 - $200. The food portion of the establishment had already been well known for their cocktails and locally sourced ingredients. Another unique twist is that the bar offers a selection of 38 different whiskies all for the same price of just $3 a shot, fulfilling their motto “eat, sleep. whisky.”

Save for the wet weather, San Francisco has kindly ingratiated herself upon me during my two week stay. While I didn’t have a chance to walk the Golden Gate Bridge or stroll the corridors of Alcatraz, I did manage to eat, eat, eat (and drink too). I’ve come to two conclusions about the cities food. First, one would have to possess an extremely awful stroke of misfortune to happen upon a bad cup of coffee here. Second, it would be a crime if I didn’t share the names of the more memorable establishments that I had the pleasure of visiting.


Coffee
Four Barrel Coffee // I’m not sure where to begin; I guess its with the roasting. The rear half of this large, refurbished factory space boasts a separate roasting operation. The roasting machine looks like something out of City of Lost Children. Regular coffee is produced in small batches with a french press. Specialty coffees are made by one of two baristas who operate their stations with a sort of second-nature precise skill. More expensive bean varieties and other brewing methods are to be had at another counter. The space is fantastic - think taxidermy, industrial seating, lots of wood and metal, big open space. Every employee is not only uniquely charming but worthy of a second or third look. In fact, coffee mugs are sold at the register adorned with illustrations of each worker’s likeness.

Ritual Coffee Roasters // While I’m writing this very posting from their location in The Mission, a group of people standing around a table behind me are being instructed on the finer points of coffee tasting. The spacious cafe boasts lots of tables with Eames-style bent plywood chairs and makes for an inviting place to hunker down with your laptop all day.

Drinking
Magnolia Pub & Brewery // The food at this pub located in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is pretty tasty. They go through a full pig a week making different kinds of sausages but the real reason to visit is the beer. Their brews which are made in the basement are all that you will find on tap. The selection of over a dozen beers which are constantly in flux include cask-style recipes and are only available at the pub.

The Residence // Delicious Manhattan’s are to be had at this Duboce Triangle watering hole. The atmosphere has a sort of deco vibe about it.

Bourbon & Branch // This establishment located in the heart of the Tenderloin is created in the spirit of an old speakeasy. You’ll need a password and reservations to get into the main bar. Seatings are limited to two hours. A separate library room is hidden behind a bar wall panel and is available on a first come basis, as space is available. This place is all about mixology, creating some of the finer drinks I’ve had the pleasure to sip.

Mission Bar // a perfect dive bar in the heart of The Mission. A happy hour round of 4 pints cost me a wopping $10.

Eating
Tartine Bakery & Cafe // You’ll go for breakfast and never want to eat a pastry from anywhere else again. Tartine is well known for their bread selections and chocolate croissants. The quiche is rather fantastic as well. I suspect everything they make is fantastic.

Farm:Table // Right off the bat - why is nobody doing this in NYC? The cafe is small and simple. They serve breakfast and lunch. Inside, there is just one table that seats up to 8 people. Two more small tables are located out front. Each day the menu changes with a new version of just three or four choices - an egg sandwich, a toast, a homemade cereal. I had sliced hardboiled eggs on pieces of baguette with crumbled bacon, feta, and scallion oil. They brew beans from Verve Coffee Roasters of the Bay Area. To find out the daily menu changes, visit their twitter feed which is also posted on their website.

R & G Lounge // Despite the unconvincing name, this is the place in San Francisco’s Chinatown that you will find yourself waiting for a dinner table. The prices are a bit higher than you would generally expect to spend on Chinese food but worth it. Where else are you going to find deep fried, salt & pepper dungeness crab?

Foreign Cinema // It would be easy to walk by this restaurant and have no idea from the outside that it even exists. Chefs with several years of experience cooking in the kitchens of Chez Panisse and Zuni Cafe created this wonderful eatery. Yes, it will cost you a few bucks and yes, its worth it if you have a few bucks to spare. Everything is impressive - the service, ambience, food and drink alike. While I dined next to a cozy warm fireplace, the courtyard looked like a rather unique experience; a rotating schedule of classic cinema is projected on a large wall.

Home // this is the place to go for really good comfort food in San Francisco’s Duboce Triangle neighborhood.

Swell // I was staying just two blocks from this quaint little spot. The rain was coming down hard and I wasn’t about to run around town for a meal. I noticed people setting up in the restaurant window just a few days earlier. We decided to give it a try. We got lucky and were seated at the four stool bar, as everyone else who stepped in appeared to have made reservations. The restaurant’s seafood menu takes it’s influence from Japanese and French cuisine. This is a very nice place for sharing small plates and wine.

While it may prove a bit “ballsy” to market a spirit branded after porn legend Ron Jeremy, I can’t say I’m interested in tasting the man’s potent liquids. I can just imagine the tag line, “for relaxing times, make it Ron Jeremy time.” The Hedgehog is certainly not the first celebrity to offer a line of booze; other’s include: Marilyn Manson, Dan Aykroyd, Dr. Dre, and Sammy Hagar who has been at it longer than any of the newcomers. For a more accurate and less glamorized perspective, check out this documentary on the most famous adult star ever to be filmed.

Steven Grasse has long been a unique voice in the world of advertising and branding. Maybe its because he operates out of my hometown of Philly, but its much more likely for his punk rock ethos that I’ve admired his approach. He’s the guy that would rather give a finger to Madison Ave suits than accept their awards. And while other companies have talked big circles about the importance of intellectual property, Grasse has actually been out there doing it for years - creating culture. And now he’s applied his rock and roll attitude to something else, projects dedicated to sustainable and local ways of doing business. More specifically, farming, making alcohol and advocating for the arts. Hear him talk about his trajectory here. I need to work with this man.

One of my favorite parts of Fight Club is the notion that the fat extracted during liposuction could be processed into soap and sold back to the very same rich people that it originally came from. This is exactly what I thought of when I heard of single malt whisky made from the urine of geriatric people. Then I thought about my friend who once dated a macrobiotic guy that drank his own pee and kept it cold in the fridge. I just hope he brushed his teeth before smooching.

I sometimes forget that Coney Island is just a short subway ride away. I went for a visit yesterday. We had some fried clams and beer at Ruby’s and took in all of the craziness. Kids were diving off the pier. Impromptu boardwalk dance parties made for surreal cultural mashings of Latinos, African Americans, hipsters, and transvestites. The rhythms were provided by older Latin men. Then we made our way down to the Russian neighborhood of Brighton Beach and sampled the vareniki, pelmeni and pickled watermelon at Cafe Glechik.

There has been a good amount of buzz about Prime Meats which opened earlier this year in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. The praise is quite worthy. The restaurant’s interior is designed with lots of wooden details and oil-style lamps that create an environment that harkens back to earlier times in America. Prim waiters uniformed in button-downs, brace suspenders, and raw denim add to the upscale meets old world working class vibe. This all really works. And truth told; one can dine at Prime Meats modesty or go for the pricier selections. The choice is yours. The house made drinks are refreshing and delicious. Good luck making them as good at home. Nothing that I ate was less than fantastic: celery salad, raw oysters, steak frites,  a soft shell crab dish, and a mean chocolate cake. It’s also worth mentioning that Prime Meats locally sources their ingredients and also does all of their own butchering in-house.