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A Taste for Charity: Second annual 12 Tastes of Christmas fund-raises for Cape Fear Literacy Council

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In December 2013, 12 Tastes of Christmas launched at Wilmington’s Brooklyn Arts Center as an affordable fundraiser for Cape Fear Literacy Council (CFLC). With a sold-out crowd of 300 in attendance, a host of restaurants and bars joined efforts to serve tasty bites and sips, all for the cause.


CANDYCANE SIPPING: 12 Tastes of Christmas will feature numerous nibbles and sips from local bars and restaurants, including Duck and Dive’s Candy Cane Sip, made of peppermint schnapps, cream, peppermint liquor, and grenadine. Photo by Todd Barber

“With the great reception we had for last year’s event, it was hard to find a reason not to reprise it,” organizer Nina Bays Cournoyer says. “It weaves together so many positive and fun aspects: Our local bartenders and chefs have the freedom to experiment with new creations, and the community has the a chance to celebrate the season together in a unique way, all while being able to give back meaningfully and affordably.”

Tickets to the event are only $30 in advance and will allow folks to enjoy pairings of food and cocktails or craft brews. Participants include Taste the Olive Café, which will make a Santa 75 prosecco cocktail to go with The Snowden Bite—a challah round with pimiento cheese, cucumber, dill, and tarrago balsamic “caviar.” Food truck owner Pat Green, who runs Soulful Twist, will prepare brie and pecan tarts to go with Delish NC’s pecan pie martini, while Caprice Bistro offers up a Winter Painkiller cocktail with French macarons. Canapé will serve a Latin twist on milk and cookies, as they prepare “adult horchata” and biscochitos, and Chop’s Deli and Greenline Pizza and Steak will make mini sandwiches. Other participants include The Blind Elephant, Goat and Compass, Duck and Dive, Costello’s, and Uprising.

“We have also included some of the new breweries—Flytrap Brewing and Wilmington Brewing Company—on this year’s drink roster,” Bays Cournoyer explains. “And we have a new theme this year: ski lodge ‘n’ lounge.”

Bays Cournoyer encourages folks to come dressed festively, whether in ski-resort wear or cocktail attire—or even their favorite ugly holiday sweater. Entertainment will be provided by musician Chill Bill, and comedy can be expected from their hosts, Dead Crow Comedy owner Timmy Sherrill and Lew Morgante from Port City Comedy.

The guest of honor, the Cape Fear Literacy Council, will provide guests an opportunity to learn about the organization. Attendees can donate or sign up to be a volunteer, as representatives will be on hand to answer all inquiries.

“Last year netted just over $5,200 and 100 percent of the proceeds went back into CFLC’s mission to provide free and confidential instruction to over 550 adult students,” says Erin Payne, community outreach and volunteer management coordinator of CFLC.

CFLC’s services include one-on-one tutoring and small classes for adult literacy, as well as classes on English for speakers of other languages. Overall, they help improve reading, writing, math, and language aptitude.

“Over 61,000 adults in New Hanover County alone have difficulty with basic literacy skills: filling out job applications, using maps, or reading prescription labels—things that most of us take for granted,” Bays  Cournoyer says. “The Cape Fear Literacy Council helps people better themselves, and by doing so, in a broader sense, better the community.” 

The goal for this year’s 12 Tastes naturally hopes to top donations from last year. To help, Bays Cornouyer and her co-organizer, Katherine Clark, are holding a raffle for a handcrafted growler carrier, made by local artisan John Cole. Cole specializes in woodworking and functional art—and loves beer, of course. Raffle tickets will be sold for $5 each.

“We’ve extended the tasting time another hour, too,” Bays Cournoyer explains. The event takes place at Brooklyn Arts Center from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and tickets are limited to 300 guests in advance at

“Who doesn’t love a good party and helping those in need?” Clark asks. “To be able to do both at the same time seems like the perfect night out!”

“We created this event not only because it’s a darn good party, but because of a need for a level of affordable giving—for both individuals and small businesses,” Bays Cournoyer adds. “Not everyone can or wants to pay upward of $100 for a ticket to a big affair; this event creates that level of affordability and allows people to donate to a local nonprofit without breaking the bank.”


12 Tastes of Christmas

Friday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Brooklyn Arts Center
516 N 4th Street
Tickets: $30

12 Tastes will include: Canapé’s Latin milk (spiced rum, Chila orchata, cherry simple syrup) and cookies (cinnamon-sugar biscochitos); Caprice’s Winter Painkiller, made with rum, toasted coconut, cream of coconut and chestnut Caprice mix, Tiki bitters, juices, nutmeg, served with French macarons; Delish NC’s pecan pie martini; Soulful Twist’s brie and pecan tarts; Flytrap Brewing’s Coffee Milk Stout; Duck and Dive’s Candy Cane Sip, made with peppermint schnapps, cream, peppermint liquor, and grenadine; Wilmington Brewing Company’s Amarillo Saison; Costello’s Mistletoe Mojito, made with gin, raspberries, fresh mint leaves, simple syrup, seltzer; Front Street Brewery’s Kentucky Tea; Taste the Olive Cafe’s Santa 75, made with prosecco, Gin, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, Taste the Olive’s cranberry-pear white balsamic vinegar, and cardamom clove simple-syrup, served alongside with challah and pimiento cheese rounds with balsamic “caviar”; mini-sandwiches from mini-sandwiches from Chops and Greenline Pizza and Steak; sweets from Uprising Bakery; additional offerings from The Blind Elephant and Goat and Compass.

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