Last night was definitely “sizzling” at The Birchwood in St. Petersburg. Rob and I had the good fortune of being invited out to the Sip ‘n’ Sizzle event, one of the many kick-off events that Dine Tampa Bay has hosted in anticipation of restaurant week. Dine Tampa Bay has really kicked it up this year to promote the official kickoff of Tampa Bay Restaurant Week on August 16. You can tell the organizations behind this event are really working hard to bring the masses out to experience all the cuisine Tampa Bay offers.
We arrived shortly after the event began to a crowded bar and a room that smelt of garlic (my favorite!). There was a large bar set up in the front of the room with the judges table right across. There were a total of nine mixologists competing for bragging rights to be called the areas best bartender.
In true NHIE fashion, we headed straight to the bar for a cocktail. Rob was brave enough to try something from the specialty cocktail menu, a Floradita. This drink was not one prepared by any of the contestants but was rather adventurous with basil, mint and coconut milk. He wasn’t too thrilled with it, but it was a topic of conversation! At every turn someone asked, “What drink is that?” “Is that ice cream?”… With drinks in hand we circled the room to taste of the sampling from restaurant participating in restaurant week. The delicious small bites included, pulled pork sliders from PCI to lobster BLT from The Birchwood and portobello mushroom ravioli from Bon Appetite and dry rub wings with a guava BBQ sauce from Crabby Bill’s.
The night went by very smoothly… as the mixologists started to whip up some drinks we continued to explore the other tables around the room. Stopping regularly to socialize and refill our drinks. We also had a chance to sneak away for a minute and go upstairs to the rooftop Canopy bar. Let me tell you… it was awesome. The furniture was comfortable and inviting, yet modern and sophisticated. For a Tuesday night, it was pretty busy but none of that could top the amazing views overlooking the water. You really do have to see for yourself.
When we headed inside the competition was underway. The mixologists were pouring, shaking (at record speeds) and serving some interesting looking drinks. That’s right… LOOKING… we didn’t even get to taste the drinks that were being prepared. That was left to the panel of judges.
It turns out Kenny Lang from Bon Appetite came out on top with the best drinks overall. We had to take the judges word for it… but we trust them! Congrats Kenny! We now have a reason to take a trip out to Dunedin to visit Bon Appetite.
Rob and I had a blast at the event, met some new friends and got to spend time with people who love food as equally as us. We can’t wait for tomorrow night’s Dine Tampa Bay’s Celebrity Chef Cook-Off. Nicholas, Allison, Rob and I will all be there so come out and hang (or just say hello). Hope it’s as good as last night!