office-party patrol

Sneaking Into Steve Brill’s House, and Doing Shots With the ‘Daily News’


Photo Illustration: Everett Bogue;
Photos: Getty Images (Santa), iStockphoto (suit)

Believe it or not, companies are still having holiday parties, even though you’re like, so totally over the festive season. Luckily, you have us to attend them for you, so you don’t even have to get up off your bedroom floor, where you’ve been sitting and weeping for the last three days trying to wrap presents and figure out what to re-gift from last year. Last night saw some big parties: The Hearst gala occupied the bottom floors of their massive Eighth Avenue Tower, and Elle and Elle Décor took over both floors of Socialista. We skipped those and opted for a nice blend of holiday high and low. After the jump, read our reviews of the down and dirty Daily News party at Columbus 72, and the cozy and cultured Clear party at Steve Brill’s Upper East Side apartment.

Clear Registered Travel: If you commute a lot from New York, you may have a Clear card. It gets you through airport security faster and more efficiently (you get your own line!), and generally makes your travel life easier. If you’re not so much a commuter but more of a general mediavore, you may be more familiar with the company’s founder and CEO, Steve Brill. He’s the guy who started Court TV, American Lawyer, and Brill’s Content. Last night’s party for Clear was held at the Brill family’s sprawling Fifth Avenue apartment, a warren of mid-century Wasp décor. We arrived to find the party in full swing, with guests sipping at cocktails from the top-shelf bar and eating a variety of catered Greek delicacies. Brill’s wife, the lawyer Cynthia Brill, pulled us aside and commanded us to try the guacamole (“The recipe is amazing — the secret is cider vinegar!”). As we milled about, we noticed an American Society of Magazine Editors award on a low shelf behind a chair. “Mr. Brill, your ASME is all hidden down there,” we observed. “I have eight ASMEs,” he replied dryly. “They’re all over the apartment.” Eventually, jovial employees brought out a surprise: trays of cookies with a photo of Brill’s face on them. After a few moments of predictable photo ops with staff members chomping down on their boss’ head, Brill stood up to give a toast to his staff. “I don’t know about you,” he began, “but I’ve been trying to eat around the edges.” The proceedings were short and sweet, and we were called out for being a spy, but the staff seemed touched by the personal tribute. In the background, we noticed the hired bartender sneaking drinks and helping himself to broken chips left stuck in the guacamole. Which reminded us, we had to get out of there to catch the tail end of the Daily News holiday extravaganza.

Verdict: Food: 4 (tasty and ethnic!); drink: 4 (high-end liquor, but no specialty cocktails); venue: 5 (you want to show your employees how much you value and trust them? Let them sit on your furniture); debauchery: 1; exclusivity: 5.

The New York Daily News: Full disclosure, our last job was at the Daily News. Which made it all the more awkward when a friendly former co-worker had to watch us give a fake name to the people at the door in order to sneak in. But we’re glad we made the effort, because we were in for the kind of debauchery we’d been waiting for since we started this whole Party Patrol thing. See, the bar Columbus 72 is not a fancy place. It is not what you would call a “club destination.” There’s tinsel hanging from the ceiling, black walls, and a lot of rotating colored lights. What Columbus 72 is is a fucking awesome place to get wasted and go dancing. Which seemed to be what the Daily News staff was in the mood to do. We missed the trays of food but did catch the Venetian hour in a back room. And, of course, the open bar. Pop artists like Whitney Houston, Madonna, and the Backstreet Boys were blasted from the speakers as edit, custodial, and business staff mingled on the dance floor. We spotted features editor Orla Healy in the corner chatting with columnist Michael Daly, as both of them watched their co-workers warily. Office fun manager Gypsy Impalla went around pulling people out to dance, including the entire photo team. We even found ourselves bopping around out there, which was a first for our holiday-party spree. But when the open bar ended, we decided to head out. Much of the staff stayed to rage on, which we calculated was probably the first in a long string of ill-advised decisions last night.

Verdict: Food: 3 (we missed it but heard there was American chop suey); drink: 3 (standard open bar); venue: 4 (zero points for fanciness, four points for awesomeness); debauchery: 5; exclusivity: 3.

Sneaking Into Steve Brill’s House, and Doing Shots With the ‘Daily News’