3 Questions with Billy Melnyk, entrepreneur and co-founder of Soto Sake

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Billy Melynk is a visionary marketer who I’m thrilled to have in my network. He’s renowned for his entrepreneurial, creative spirit. He is also everyone’s go-to expert for all things MUSIC!  Billy and I first met at Bacardi when he was brought in from Canada to become the bar and nightlife consultant for the rum brands as well as Grey Goose. The Zandl team had a couple of amazing summers traveling the country with Billy and the Bacardi crew blogging about the B-Live tour (with A-Trak, Diplo, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Drop The Lime, MSTRKRAFT, Matt and Kim and Santigold).

Most recently, Billy has introduced SOTO, a Super-Premium Junmai Daiginjo Japanese Sake.  Check out the gorgeous design by Joe Doucet x Partners. It’s currently in limited distribution in NYC and Miami including at EDITION Hotels, Neuehouse, Tao and Sushi Samba among others.

Super appreciative that Billy is sharing some of his inspirations, trend sources and favorite brands, bars and restaurants with us – am especially looking forward to checking out Sweet Liberty the next time I’m in Miami.

Read on below.

 1. BRANDS/STORES/SERVICES YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT

JugoFresh 

This Miami company has truly led the way across the juice landscape by combining innovative recipes with inspired environments. They recently stepped up their food game with cool snacks and salads, while they’ve placed stores within stores with a footprint inside Whole Foods’ produce area. They’re truly driving innovation is this category. Design by Shulman + Associates.

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Wynwood location

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At Whole Foods

Zite 

Serious aggregator of my online news feeds. Their reader is aesthetically solid and amalgamates all my interests for my morning read. Linking the ‘speak’ function on my iPhone, I get all my art, culture, and culinary news read to me when I’m walking Sir Charles (my toy fox terrier)

 

MONOCLE radio 

It’s not hard to understand that Canadians are killing it across the media landscape. Tyler Brule’s radio incarnation is brilliant. I love the weekly shows, The Menu, The Entrepreneurs, and being a magazine head I don’t miss an episode of The Stack.

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2. FAVORITE PLACES/SOURCES FOR WHAT’S NEW/ INSPIRATIONS

TOKYO

I’m extremely fortunate with our sake business to visit Japan many times a year, and I’ve been exploring the many layers of Tokyo with my business partner, Dan Rubinoff. Most of the action doesn’t happen at street level; the sheer density of a city like this forced the residents and business owners to push up meaning the best experiences are felt subterranean, as they should. This requires you to reorient your perspective and always look at things very differently, but also means you need to know some great people to point you to the secret spots. Rebekah Wilson-Lye, a sake consultant and educator, knows the ins and outs of the culinary landscape of Tokyo better than anyone. (Rebekah Wilson-Lye www.ichi-forthemichi.com)

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Photographer: LIVINCOOL

 

NEUEHOUSE

Each time I visit the David Rockwell-designed space I meet the most inspirational people both in the members and staff. Last time the guy running the coffee bar was chatting about the film he was shooting the next morning, and I met the Ghetto Gastro (https://www.instagram.com/ghettogastro/) guys hanging in the canteen. The new bar design in the basement is sick.

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NEUEHOUSE – one of my faves also!!

 

TRENDLAND (https://www.instagram.com/trendland/)

Ani & Cyril curate the most amazing cultural imagery from around the world and have a design sensibility that’s inspiring. I got a sneak peak at their new Witness Apartment, which enables a healthy intersection of commerce and culture.

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ARMASANA STYLE  (https://www.instagram.com/amarsana_style/)

This stylist is pushing the boundaries and is about to blow up. Love the way she toys with black & white and angles.

 

MIYA ANDO

There’s a restrained aesthetic with Japan and you can feel this tension in Ando’s work. Marked by minimalism and extreme attention to detail she produces a balance of hard, tactile materials and soft color and landscapes. Her minimal pieces are soothing and have influenced some of our work.

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MOMENT FACTORYhttps://www.instagram.com/momentfactory/)

The best invention coming out of Canada since basketball, Moment Factory produces environments and landscapes that take you to another world.

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3. WHAT’S NEW IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD THAT WE MUST CHECK OUT?

 

I live between New York and Miami so please come and visit me anytime.

 

NYC

I’ve fallen for the lower lower east side and the reinvention of Forsyth Street – the new neon clad cafes – Andre Saraiva’s Cafe Henrie and Simonez’ Mes Que Cafe. On this short block you can get amazing champagne, Japanese pencils, Coconut water, cotton candy, and SOTO sake. The park makes you feel like you’re in Montreal’s Mile End or in a rediscovered Parisian neighborhood. Touching Chinatown, the melange of architecture and signage gives this neighborhood a real global feel and some of the best galleries in NY are emerging. Oh, and check out Takashi too. It’s brilliant.

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Takashi, Lower East Side

 

MIA

John Lermeyer’s Sweet Liberty has finally opened. He’s one of the key impresarios supremely responsible for making Miamians drink (well), and with Sra Martinez on board they’re pumping out the best burger in the American south (or the Latin north). They call it a ‘neighborhood cocktail bar’ and now it’s my local next to the ARTE CITY complex. With Broken Shaker and 27 down the block and along the creek, there’s good things mixing in Miami.

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Sweet Liberty

 

THE STUNNING SOTO SAKE BOTTLE:

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Bottle designed by Joe Doucet

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Bottle designed by Joe Doucet

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Bottle designed by Joe Doucet

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Photo/set up by Chef Calvin/ Ink 361

 

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