“John McDonald, CEO of Mercer Street Hospitality, recounted to me the rise of premium vodka during his days running MercBar in the 1990s—first Absolut’s explosion onto the scene, then the rise of Stoli’s flavored vodkas, and ultimately Grey Goose “crushing everybody.” But when I mention to him that everyone I know who’s been to Russia has returned with a supreme loyalty to Russian Standard ($16), McDonald is effusive. “[Customers] always love that! It’s a good brand. We’ve always sold Russian Standard,” he says, referring to his several upscale hotspots in downtown New York, including Lure Fishbar and Bowery Meat Company.”

Thirsty for More?

“If your wallet can’t handle high raw bar prices, but you still need your fix of cheap oysters and beer, you’ll be happy to learn that many of the city’s best places for oysters offer a buck-a-shuck or half-dozen deals. These spots have you covered after work, before going out, or just because it’s a Wednesday and you want some damn good oysters at a damn good price. With happy hours all over the city, there are plenty of cheap, delicious bivalves to choose from, no matter what neighborhood you’re in.” – Thrillist

Two celebrity chefs will help kickoff the borough’s second-annual restaurant week, which begins Thursday. David Burke and Josh Capon will visit restaurants {read more for details} from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday.

Capon hosts Spike TV’s first food series “Frankenfood,” which premiered in 2014. He is also executive chef of Lure Fishbar, B&B Winepub and El Toro Blanco in New York City.