NYC bars and restaurants pitch in for Sandy fund-raising

Deborah Hopewell

"Should we pull the New York coverage?!" My Los Angeles-based editor sounded frantic on the phone, grilling me first about my own safety, then about December's magazine issue — largely focused on New York.

"Does it seem callous to talk about something superfluous like going out to dinner in the wake of this damage?" she asked.

It was a valid question. It was one I immediately knew the answer to.

Hi. I'm Jenny. I live in Zone A.

My Manhattan apartment is located in the East Village, less than a block from the East River. It was that river that reflected a rising full moon and then subsequently gorged herself on our basements, consuming everything from personal possessions to wiring, circuit breakers to sheet rock. My building spent 10 days in the dark. In the cold. When my editor called, I'd been without power for nine.

While she feared coming across as uncaring in our copy, encouraging frivolities like lavish Manhattan dinners, I had no such qualms. I wanted tourists to come back. Sure, I wanted them to volunteer if they felt so compelled, sure. More so, however, I wanted them to clink wine glasses. To laugh at ironic nothings. To lean back from white tablecloths and exclaim, "Man, I'm stuffed."

And then … to pay the bill.

On that ninth night, in a dark and silent downtown, I longed for the music of everyday life. Volunteers and fundraising will help those in immediate need, but tourism is crucial to bringing these Zone A neighborhoods back to normal.

"Keep the copy," I said steadily into the phone. "In fact, maybe we should write more."

As the bars and restaurants found their feet once more, they also found unique ways to fund raise. Each listed is not only a great place to have a meal or a cocktail. They are also run by fantastic humans who deserve a round of applause for their humanitarian efforts.

New York Distilling & The Shanty Bar

Located in: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

How They Helped: Their anniversary party on Dec. 5, from 7-10 p.m. will double as a fundraiser for the Brooklyn Recovery Fund. Attendees get a complimentary 375 ml bottle of White Dog rye whiskey distilled that night and the promise of another bottle - two years down the line, once aged. There's a raffle to win a 5-gallon barrel of whiskey, and food and drink provided by Stinky Bklyn, In Pursuit of Tea, Brooklyn Roasting Company, and Brooklyn Brewery.

Cool 365 Because: The largest of Brooklyn's seven distilleries, they distill two outstanding gins (Perry's Tot & Dorothy Parker) and will unleash a rye whiskey in 2013. Don't miss the cocktails at their adjoining bar, The Shanty.

Fatty 'Cue

Located in: The West Village

How They Helped: By donating 2 percent of all sales of their handcrafted Dark & Stormy cocktail throughout November

Cool 365 Because: Part rib joint, part Southeast Asian dining parlor, Fatty has fun with "bottle service," taking a playful jab at Thailand's methods by wheeling up a cart full of booze. You to create your own cocktail from a bucket of ice, soda, limes, and fixins like blood orange-Indian cinnamon, smoked pineapple and Yuzu.

The Wayland

Located in: Alphabet City

How They Helped: Sandy flooded their basement floor to ceiling. However, the staff looked beyond their own damage, and instead drove daily carloads of diapers, blankets, batteries and even home-cooked hot meals to serve hundreds in places hit harder, like Red Hook and The Rockaways.

Cool 365 Because: Your Margarita gets updated with fresh kale juice and several nights per week you can enjoy free, live music. Oh, and they have Fernet Branca on tap.

Mother's Ruin & The Tippler

Located in: Nolita & Chelsea

How They Helped: Sometimes you need a stiff drink. During the storm, a lot of us felt that urge and Mother's Ruin in Nolita stayed open by candlelight, serving craft cocktails. On Monday, Nov. 26, they have teamed up with another bar - The Tippler (a basement bar inside the Chelsea Market) — to host a joint night of fundraising.

The party will be held at The Tippler. Attendees should expect performances Diane Birch and We Are Scientists, with a dozen booze sponsors and a live auction, hosted by comedian Brian McCarthy.

Cool 365 Because: Both The Tippler and Mother's Ruin take a serious approach to craft cocktails, but they keep a great sense of humor about it. Both bars have a soft spot for frozen drinks. At Mother's, there's a craft cocktail "Slushie of the Day," and at Tippler, you can take down a Spazerac — their frozen version of a classic Sazerac.