There are some dates that transformed New York: In 1858, Central Park opened; The Holland Tunnel’s opening in 1927; The Beatles playing at Shea Stadium in 1965; and the opening of Studio 54 in 1977. The latest date that will surely find its way onto that list is April 20, 2021 – the day NYC’s legendary speakeasy, The Happy Munkey, hosted it’s “Farewell to Prohibition” celebration.
Happy Munkey founders Vladimir Bautista and Ramon Reyes are celebrities in the Cannabis community. When they opened in mid 2017 at an “underground” location, they created a space that offered their invitation only guests a safe, comfortable atmosphere while hanging with very cool people all bonding over Cannabis; black, white, straight, gay, it didn’t matter as Vlad and Ramon often say, “It’s about the culture.” On any given night, you could share a joint with a NFL, NBA or MLB player, a hip hop or rap star, an actor or a famous singer, all there to share their love of Cannabis.
After having to close due to the COVID virus, Munkey fans from all over the world were left with no place to get together. Sure, we had Zoom calls and more recently, Clubhouse chats, but nothing could compare to the in-person experience. That all changed after New York State legalized Cannabis on April 1. With the success of people being vaccinated, Vlad and Ramon and David Hernandez decided what better way to celebrate this moment in time than doing what they do best. And, to take it to another level, no more “underground” location; in typical Munkey style, they wanted to make a statement now that Cannabis was legal and they sure did – Bobby Van’s Steakhouse directly opposite the NY Stock Exchange building.
What an evening. The restaurant was COVID safe; tables were at least 6 feet apart, masks were required when not consuming or drinking and bottles of hand sanitizer on each table. They turned a steakhouse into The Munkey – DJ, people mingling with each other, consuming responsibly, in this case, not sharing, and everywhere you looked was either an old friend or leaders in the weed space: Leo Bridgewater, Joy Beckerman, journalist Steve Bloom (who discovered the 420 phenomenon while a High Times editor), Curved Papers’ Michael O’Malley, Arnaud Dumas De Rauly and Sasha Aksenov of The Blinc Group, Fab Five Freddy, Phoenix Nutraceuticals Ruben Lindo and other notables were there, all rocking out and smoking through the party.
Looking back on my Cannabis consumption through the years in New York City, I must agree with the cliche, you always remember your first, in this case, my first legal pot party! What a rush and thanks to the Happy Munkey for all they have done to take the culture to the next level. And, the best is yet to come.