Due Diligence

Bartender Kenneth Vanhooser on living as an artist in NYC, the importance of being social, and his love for Uber

By Lucy Cohen Blatter | March 9, 2016 - 1:59PM 

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Kenneth Vanhooser now creates cocktails and tends bar at Piora Restaurant, a Michelin-starred Korean-Italian restaurant in the West Village. When he's not crafting beautiful cocktails, he's making art in his Brooklyn neighborhood.

1.  What neighborhood do you live in?

Crown Heights.

2. Is this your dream neighborhood or is there someplace else in NYC you’d prefer to settle in?

The Hamptons, for sure.

3. Do you own or rent?


4How’d you find it?


5. What’s the one thing you love the most about it?

It's brand new and has its own terrace and in-unit washer and dryer.

6. If there’s one thing you could change about your apartment, what would it be? 

I would be able to have more room to do my art. I am a screen printer and if I had miscellaneous space, I’d be doing a little art every day. Instead, I’ve been printing my pieces at Gowns Printing Lab In Gowanus Brooklyn. In Tennesse, I had the luxury of producing in my house, but here in NYC, everything gets a little more expensive.

7. In three words, describe the first apartment you've ever lived in.

New, multi-colored, Brooklyn. It was a modern building with a mix of windows and primary colors of red, blue, and yellow, sporadically mixed.

8. Do you prefer old NYC or this NYC?
This one for my personal taste. I prefer NYC, in general, because of the proximity to everything that is going on socially.

9. Tell us about the favorite apartment you’ve ever had.

A warehouse I lived in for one summer in Nashville. It had showers and community bathrooms. For that reason, it was amazing, but what was really interesting is that my studio had rooftop access where you could see the Nashville skyline. Of course you could not live there, but it didn’t mean that you couldn’t stay there all night “working."

10. And the worst?

A one-bedroom in Cookeville, TN.  It was on campus at my college, but it was the first apartment I lived in by myself in college—cinder block walls and tiled floors. It was not exactly luxury, but it worked.

11Name one NYC service you couldn’t live without.

Uber. I love that the battle of standing on the perfect corner at the perfect moment is over. I love to use Uber because it is so easy to control. Don’t get me wrong, when prices are multiplied the option goes straight out the window. I’d rather take the train than spend half my money on getting home after a long night of work.

12What's your favorite spot in the city?

Piora Restaurant, without a doubt! We have a very cocktail culture feel. The “Root to Roses” cocktail with Caliche rum is a personal favorite. We have amazing creative fare and an excellent scotch selection when I'm not in a mood for rum.

13Which would you rather: Brooklyn brownstone or a penthouse in a shiny, new condo?

Brooklyn brownstone, especially if I got to have the whole unit. If only it was possible on this budget. Yeah, night after night, I make good money, but real estate isn’t easy in this whole city, borough to borough. One day when I’m at the top of my game, I’ll think, “Hey I should’ve bought that while I had the chance.” Besides that, I am extremely happy with what is available at my price point. 

I do appreciate that Brooklyn offers more space for a similar amount of money. It’s not cheaper by any means, but you get a better selection of what you expect for your money.

14. If you could live elsewhere, where would it be?

Nashville or Wynwood Miami. Because the art scene is bustling. There is so  much available to those who work hard as opposed to here in NYC, where everyone puts in an enormous amount of hours to push the envelope. I just feel that their effort, good work ethic, and resilience are a better ratio to success and quality of life—both in Nashville and Miami.

15. Any advice for a recent New York transplant?

Get out there and be social. Don't put it off. People have all the information and direction you need and they are willing to share their favorite places and things to do.


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