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A Denim & Cocktail Guru’s Mexican Fiesta

When Earnest Sewn denim designer and spirits aficionado Scott Morrison throws a party at his Catskills house, guests hang out at his custom-built bar, drink inventive cocktails and sample Manhattan chef Sue Torres’ delicious Mexican dishes.

Scott Morrison, 35, has a knack for defining the denim zeitgeist: In 1999 he created the instantly popular Paper Denim & Cloth label, then followed it up in 2004 with his current cult brand, Earnest Sewn, known for the worn-in look and slim cuts hugging the legs of celebrities like Charlize Theron and Sienna Miller. Morrison’s flagship store, in Manhattan’s trendy Meatpacking District, is so successful that he recently opened a second New York boutique in a former speakeasy on the Lower East Side. A third store, in Malibu, California, will open next spring and plans for a fourth, in Los Angeles, are in the works.

At his weekend house, set on 178 acres in New York’s Catskill Mountains, Morrison has hit on another trend: the revival of the showpiece home bar, the cocktail-lover’s answer to the wine cellar. His bar—which he built with his friend Taavo Somer, a New York restaurateur and fashion designer—is fronted by a stack of glass-enclosed birch logs and surrounded by linseed-oiled oak paneling and vintage drafting stools. It’s one of the first things guests see when they enter the seven-bedroom house, originally built by the Swiss photographer Hans Gissinger.

"Parties here always start with people hanging around the bar," Morrison says. "Then they peel off into the kitchen to cook. Then they come back for more cocktails." While Morrison stashes much of his wine in old ammunition boxes ("I used to collect Bordeaux, but I’m a cocktails guy, so I felt like a fraud"), his spirits collection—including obscure bottles he picks up during his travels abroad—is on display. And though guests might eat around the dining room table, they’re just as likely to eat at the bar before taking off to the game room, where Morrison spins old-school house records as guests alternate between sips and turns at the Ping-Pong table.

During a recent party, Morrison’s friend Cyrus Kehyari—the mixologist at Socialista, a Cuban-inspired lounge in Manhattan’s West Village—manned the bar. He served drinks like the grapefruity Punto Pomelo for guests, who included Earnest Sewn cofounder Eleanor Ylvisaker; Morrison’s friend Jessie Chalkley, a model; and fashion publicist Ferebee Bishop. In the kitchen was chef Sue Torres, who followed on the success of her new-wave Mexican restaurant, Sueños, by opening Los Dados, which is owned by Morrison’s friends David Rabin and Will Regan and located next to Earnest Sewn’s flagship store. Inspired by her frequent trips to Mexico, Torres’ menu at Los Dados revolves around Mexican home cooking and street food. She started the party with crispy, cheese-stuffed gorditas and bite-size shrimp tostadas with a buttery, tequila-flamed sauce—both perfect with Kehyari’s citrusy drinks. Guests assembled tacos from a trio of skirt steak, chicken and grilled-vegetable fillings. For dessert: a rum-soaked tres leches cake, delicious with the creamy orange-and-rum-flavored Puente Punch.

Following the principles of wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetic of finding beauty in the imperfect, Morrison is on to another pairing: custom restaurant jeans. He has outfitted the Los Dados servers with his denim and is creating a design based on the wear and tear the waitstaff inflicts upon them. A modern-day twist on work denim? Perhaps he’s on to yet another trend.

Published January 2008
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