Brooklyn Gin & Rooftop Parties

This is a lifestyle shoot that is inspired by Brooklyn Gin. Have you ever had Brooklyn Gin? No? Go get it. Right now. It’s the best gin I’ve ever had. To me, Brooklyn Gin means rooftop parties in the summer, making food with friends, and Brooklyn apartments that are so hot you have to sit on the kitchen floor because it’s the coolest place you can find.

Below you will find a recipe for Summer Kebabs with Basil Lemon Pesto developed by my super talented sister, Rachel. You will also see a recipe for Honeydew Cucumber Poptails (alcoholic, gin-based popsicles). These poptails are fun because they look like Fla-vor-ice. Remember Fla-vor-ice? Well, this is a grownup version that will get ya tipsy.

A HUGE thanks to my models and crew on this shoot. You guys were amazing. An even bigger thanks to my friend Rebecca (and her neighbors) for letting us shoot in her picturesque apartment. You rule, Rebecca.


Produced by Jane Qualey
Prop styling by Kelly Shea
Models: Lillian Rodriguez, Janet Kim, & Dominique Stroman
Production assistance by Yossy Arefi and Mirella Cheeseman
Fashion styling by Caroline Newton
Hair Styling by Andrita Renee
Makeup by Christie Lee

You can see behind the scene pics of the shoot on Instagram.

I’m going on a road trip from Portland to Seattle to Vancouver, BC for the rest of the month. I won’t be blogging until September but you can follow my adventures on Instagram and Twitter. =) Any sightseeing suggestions are welcome!

Till next time! xx

Rooftop Party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop Party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop party by V.K.ReesRooftop Party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop Party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop party by V.K.ReesRooftop Party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop Party by V.K.Rees
V.K.Rees Rooftop Party

Summer Kebab with Basil Lemon Pesto

  • 6 medium figs,  halved
  • 10 – 12 large crimini mushrooms, halved
  • 1 pound of firm tofu, evenly cubed
  • 2 medium squash, cut into half moon wedges
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes
  • Basil Lemon Pesto, recipe follows

Bamboo kebab skewers – soaking the skewars in water before hand helps them not burn during the cooking process.

Wash veggies.   Put the cut veggies and tofu on the skewers. Place the loaded skewers on cookie sheet–liberally season with Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.

The grill is best, but you can also use the broiler.

To grill: Place loaded skewers over medium-high heat. Grill on all sides until slightly browned.  It can be helpful to oil the griddle first, prevents sticking.

To broil:  Place loaded skewers on a cooking rack in a high-walled pan or cookie sheet.  Place on the middle rack in the oven on high broil. The kebabs will give off water as they cook. Cook on both sides for 10 minutes or so, until lightly browned.

To serve, brush the pesto  on the kebabs. Add Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Enjoy immediately  - with a cold gin & tonic.

Basil Lemon Pesto

  • 2 tablespoons pinenuts
  • 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 cups of fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Put the basil in a big plastic bag, sealed–air removed.  Place on the countertop, and gently pound the bag until the leaves are bruised this helps to release the flavor.A food processor works best for the pesto–and is as easy as pie. Add all the ingredients into the food processor and pulse until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.

V.K.Rees Rooftop Party
Rooftop Party by V.K.ReesRooftop Party by V.K.ReesBrooklyn Gin rooftop party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop Party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop Party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop Party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop Party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop Party by V.K.Rees
Rooftop party by V.K.Rees

You will need to purchase some 1″ tubing to make the poptails.

Honeydew Cucumber Poptail

  • 1/2 cup Brooklyn Gin
  • 1.5 cup fresh honeydew juice
  • 1 cup fresh cucumber juice
  • 1 handful of bluberries

1. Mix everything together except the blueberries.
2. Cut a 15″ strip of the tubing and tie a knot on one end of it.
3. Using a funnel, pour the liquid into the tubing until it is halfway full.
4. Put 5 fresh blueberries in the tubing.
5. Fill the remainder of the tube with the liquid, leaving about 2″ at the top. Tie a knot at the top of it.
6.  Stick in the freezer.
7. Repeat until the liquid is gone.

Rooftop Party by V.K.Rees

V.K.Rees Rooftop Party

Rooftop Party by V.K.Rees



Lilly - Well now I want some Brooklyn Gin and a rooftop party. Love this!

Aubrie LeGault - This was amazing- good for you to step out and do something that not only you enjoy but it scares you. Photos we’re fantastic. I’m so bummed I didn’t see the post until now otherwise I would’ve gladly gave you some things to check out while in Portland. (Next time!) I was actually in Seattle and I went to Victoria (Vancouver Island, B.C) so I basically was trailing behind you. Next time you’re out west we’ll have to meet, have a beer and shoot food. Cheers.

Amber - Loves Food, Loves to Eat - Vanessa! You need to do more lifestyle shoots… I love this so much! Bravo!!

Dinah Footes - These are amazing heart felt photos that tell a story of friends chillin on a summer day. I love it!

Eleanor Nieuwenhuis - Honeydew Cucumber Poptails: I HAVE to bookmark this recipe. Pesto makes everything a little better.

Roy - What a wonderful shoot! I love the food and atmosphere. Not to mention the popsicles! :D

Trisha @ Vignette - What a great shoot! You really communicated the carefree summer vibe! Love the last shot with the flag!!

Mah Ze Dahr Bakery for Summer

I recently took pictures of Chef Umber Ahmad for her company Mah Ze Dahr Bakery. You may remember from an earlier blog post that I’ve already taken pictures for Mah Ze Dhar. Well, we wanted to do it again. This time with a summery twist.

A big thanks to J’aime Cohen, Mirella Cheeseman, Yossy Arefi, Dominique SamuelTarek Makki, and Umber for making this shoot happen!

Mah Ze Dahr Bakery for Summer by V.K.ReesMah Ze Dahr Bakery for Summer by V.K.ReesMah Ze Dahr Bakery for Summer by V.K.ReesMah Ze Dahr Bakery for Summer by V.K.ReesMah Ze Dahr Bakery for Summer by V.K.Rees

Blogs we're Crushing on... | Crush Online - [...] to right, as well as the blogger profile images are from Top With Cinnamon, A House in the Hills, V.K. Rees Photography, Drizzle and Dip, Local Milk and Design Love [...]

小妮 - I like her big smile!

Alison Dulaney - Such stunning photos and what a beautiful kitchen!

Tamera Beardsley - What a spectacular post in it’s simplicity and stunning composition and quality. You are a true artist!

Elsik Makarian - Your photography are one of the best i have seen .

July 2013 in Instagram Photos

I love NYC in the summer. It’s packed with taco eating, cocktail drinking, full rainbows over Queens, and thunderstorms that make the NYC skyline look epic.

There is also Mr. Sunday, rooftop film screenings almost any night of the week (I personally love Lavender Lake’s), trivia nights, ferry rides, farmers markets, vintage French carnivals, beer gardens, popup pools, baseball games, Governor’s Island, open studios, outdoor markets, Coney Island, art fairs, Celebrate Brooklyn, flea markets, popup parties, Rockaway beach, Rockaway Taco, picnics in the parks, and so on and so on.

Since July is wrapping up I’m going to share some of my favorite Instagram photos from this month. Oh, and here I am on Instagram.

If you are a New Yorker I highly recommend subscribing to the Nonsense NYC newsletter. These folks send out a newsletter every Friday with a list of unique events happening the following week. For example on last week’s list there was a popup dance party taking place on the top floor of a parking garage in Chinatown. The space was transformed with installations and projections.  The list has some tamer events like street festivals and art shows on it as well.

Goodbye July, it’s been real. Hello August.

NYC Summer
NYC Summers via vkreesNYC Summers via vkreesNYC Summers via vkreesNYC Summers via vkreesNYC Summers via vkreesNYC Summers via vkreesNYC Summers via vkrees

NYC Summers via vkrees

NYC Summers via vkrees

NYC Summers via vkrees
NYC summers via vkrees

NYC Summers via vkrees


Stuart - That looks like one hell of a great summer. Good food, great friends, what more could you want. I especially like the crazy beer pumps. Really cool!

Ashley - Gosh. These are absolutely fantastic photos, Vanessa!!! You continue to blow me away. And popup pools + dance parties? I’m so in.

Annie Kruse | Stylejuicer - I’m already following you on Instagram but this collage is SOOOOO cool! Really get the NYC summer vibes coming across the Atlantic. ;-)

Kiran @ - Absolutely love following your adventures on Instagram — makes me want to pack it all up and move to NY!!