By Naomi Rosenblatt; photos courtesy of SPLEEF
“There was once a man who lived in the forest. One day, he found a Spleef Bake nestled in a tree. For the next 6-8 hours, the man became the forest.” —@spleefnyc
The best things in life that aren’t free tend to be low-profile. Remember that smoky cloud behind the green door… ?
You’re texted an address and figure out how to get there by subway. You walk down street after unassuming street until the kingdom reveals itself: a twinkle of chandeliers and Louis XV-style settees; guests mingling, laughing, chatting warmly, enjoying infused mixology and cuisine; live music, art … all “behind the green door” at a Spleef Speakeasy.
The non-alcoholic, tinctured cocktail I sip enhances this already-rich ambiance. My drink is called Peaches’n’Cream, and it sure does come on like a dream. What a smooth, almost rounded, gentle high! Looks like a Mojito, but it’s got peach nectar and coco milk. I can feel it tingle in my toes. No alcohol headache: Just chill and ease.
I think to myself: Funny how some substances black you out, take you away, and others extend you. This Spleef cocktail made me feel like myself squared or cubed—but not on overdrive. Generally, I cannot stand being alone at a party. I will turn down invitations if I lack a +1. But at the Speakeasy, I welcome conversation when it happens and solitude when that happens, not feeling awkward. Maybe I can relax in public like this more often. If this is ‘myself squared,’ it’s clearly part of me.
Peaches’n’Cream is not my first Spleef cocktail. I had tried a drop of their tincture in a vodka-and-tonic at another event, where I spoke in public. Tasting booze and cannabis at the same time was breathing fire, and the lovely mix made me quite witty.
Luxury edibles and drinkables like this are Spleef’s base product, while luxury events, notably the Speakeasy, are their “experiential” offering. The company started three years ago when founder Mark Spleef’s first baker produced a brownie that she used as crust for a cake—hence, “the Bake.” Two examples: The German Chocolate Bake with pecan-coconut frosting or The Caramel Macchiato Bake, coffee French vanilla cake, each on top of a Turtle Brownie, iced with chocolate-caramel frosting. Check out Spleef’s Instagram feed to see more temptations…get on their mailing list to sample them for yourself.
The Speakeasy is a showcase for mixologists, chefs, artists and live performers, explains Mike B, Mark’s business partner. Just a year ago, Mike started out as a distributor of Spleef products, became Mark’s personal trainer, best friend … and as of two weeks ago, acquired a share of the company.
“We balance each other,” Mark comments. “I’m a little more outgoing. He’s more chill. We’re a good team.” Both Mark and Mike, like me, are New York natives—Mark from Corona, Queens, Mike from the East Bronx, and I grew up in midtown Manhattan. It’s rare that I’m asked if I’m a “native” here. People assume that because it’s not a small town, New Yorkers don’t share that kind of allegiance. But we so do.
The edginess of Spleef, its adventurous business model, the sheer fun of the product and event, represents New York at its finest. Brooklyn-based rapper Tyi Flows is upbeat, reminiscent of the seventies and eighties in the city, but distinctly NOW. His rap style is positive and empowering. Some guests dance, others sit and chat or relax and gaze at their phones, some gather by the bar and tables, helping themselves to food—both infused and non-infused—cocktails, or water with fresh limes and parsley.
In other corners of the room, guest vendors like The Kollective (@thekolector) vends locally produced “smokables,” and CBD Cloud (@thecbdcloud) both offer samples and sell their wares. Cathy of CBD Cloud tells me she was going to start her own line, but “the market is already saturated.”
“Ironic,” I comment: The market for a product that can’t be sold in all states is nevertheless, saturated. Meanwhile, our twit of a president thinks he rules the roost—but it’s only a matter of time before he’s out, and cannabis is in. Mark and mic my words!
I leave the Speakeasy feeling clear-headed and content. Meeting a friend at a nearby restaurant, I get to top off my Spleef high with a crisp glass of chardonnay. Celestial! When my friend goes off to make a call, a kid young enough to be my grandson hits on me, and I realize that no one at the Speakeasy was invasive like that. As a woman alone I felt completely safe and respected.
Still, next time I go to a Spleef Speakeasy, I hope to bring a +1-or-more. This is too fun and unique not to share; as many of us as possible should find out what’s behind that green door.