Happy November! The season has finally returned to the Palm Beaches, the weather is cooling down, the snowbirds are beginning to return and the social calendar is full of back-to-back events.
As I walk down Clematis Street each day I find it fascinating to partake in some people-watching. There are the tourists, the seasonal residents, the Palm Beachers, the retirees, the lawyers, the out-of-towners who are on jury duty and the professionals. It’s a diverse group and the fact that they all enjoy our downtown is one of the things that makes Clematis Street so special.
I appreciate the seasonal residents and the Palm Beachers, but the core of our city and its economy are our residents and especially those who have chosen to live and work in West Palm Beach. Over the next few months I will highlight a few of the locals who are putting West Palm Beach on the map. Together, we’ll take time to see things through their eyes and finding out what they do and what they love about West Palm Beach.
First up is downtown resident Alex Kowtun. I met Alex several years ago. Like me, he worked in the financial sector. Then one day he decided to start a new venture named “Monkey in Paradise,” which in the last two years has morphed into a lifestyle brand and award-winning vodka. He can be found around Clematis Street as well as at virtually any super car or aviation event. His work is a driver of the local economy and he is a player in our entertainment scene.
Aaron: What is Monkey in Paradise?
Alex: About two years ago, cofounders Frank Gomez, Seth Goldberg and I thought that those colorful plastic monkey drink markers might help break the ice and help people talk to each other in social situations, instead of staring at their mobile devices.
It worked. The Monkey In Paradise monkey cocktail markers became popular and gave birth to the Monkey In Paradise Instagram account. The Instagram account quickly grew to over 20,000 followers.
We realized that Monkey In Paradise was a strong social media marketing platform and it was time to do more with it. We decided to launch Monkey In Paradise Vodka. The vodka went to market one year ago and has been extremely successful in the Palm Beach County market.
We have also branched out to sponsor local super car events such as Cars & Coffee Palm Beach and SuperCar Week.
Aaron: Where is Monkey In Paradise Vodka made?
Alex: Monkey In Paradise is a local vodka that’s made right here in Palm Beach county. The vodka is gluten free and made from the highest grade American corn. We were the double gold medal winner at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits competition.
Aaron: Tell us about Cars & Coffee Palm Beach.
Alex: Cars & Coffee Palm Beach is held one Sunday each month at the Palm Beach Outlets and is Florida’s largest and most prestigious monthly auto event. The event attracts 1,500 to 3,500 display vehicles and up to 22,000 spectators every month. Tourists come from all over the state, country and even the world to West Palm Beach throughout the year specifically to enjoy the show as spectators, special guests and/or showcased vendors. That’s great for the local economy and all it has to offer.
Aaron: You travel a lot. What is your favorite part of South Florida and why?
Alex: My favorite overall area in South Florida is downtown West Palm Beach. I have been living here for seven years and choose it for many reasons. The main reason is West Palm Beach is a small city with big city amenities. Pretty much everything a big city offers, West Palm Beach has in a small, concentrated area that’s within walking distance.
It’s also a city right on the water and I can walk to the beach. Last but not least, I don’t have to drive. Everything is a short walk!
Aaron: Where are your favorite places to go in West Palm Beach?
Alex: I love West Palm Beach because of all the different areas and wide range of places to go. When it comes to happy hour, I’m a fan of Cityplace.
Later in the evening, I like the Clematis Street/Datura Street area. Grease features $5 Monkey In Paradise cocktails all day Thursday and Sunday for NFL football.
For fine dining, you can’t beat Palm Beach.
Aaron: What are your tips for the upcoming season and what will be the best party to go to?
Alex: There are so many events that I love and look forward to. Those that know me know I have a love for motorsports so I would have to say my favorite event is Super Car Week. This is a week-long event with different daily events and daily parties that all revolve around exotic cars and super cars.
Monkey In Paradise will once again be a sponsor and be a part of all the daily events. These parties draw amazing people to the West Palm Beach Waterfront and are always a lot of fun. Supercar Week runs from Jan. 6-14. Details on all the daily events can be found at supercarweek.com. Be sure to come by and say “hi.”