Mele Kalikimaka! It’s the way the Cape Fear Literacy Council and their Andretti the Yeti mascot will be welcoming guests to the retro tiki-themed 12 Tastes of Christmas fundraiser, set to take place Friday evening at Brooklyn Arts Center. Now in its fourth year, the event—organized by Nina Bays Cournoyer and Katherine Clark—has raised $30,000 for the local literacy council.
“All proceeds benefit our two programs, adult literacy and English as a second language (ESL),” Erin Payne, director of fundraising, says. “We serve over 500 adult learners each year, but there is a significant need in New Hanover County for their services—over 60,000 people who struggle with low literacy in NHC.”
The event is just as its name implies: tasty. It pairs the beverages from local bars and breweries with nibbles from local restaurants. The organizers invite 12 eateries and 12 drinkeries to participate.
“Newbies this year are JohnnyLukes KitchenBar, Lunchbox Pickles, Port City Farmers Market Kitchen, Mission BBQ, The District, Wake N Bake, Waterline Brewing, The Reel Cafe, Dead Crow, Dram + Morsel, and fittingly Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar,” Bays Cournoyer tells. “Returning faves are Beer Barrio, The Blind Elephant, Boombalatti’s, Caprice, Delish NC, Soulful Twist, Flytrap, Goat & Compass, PCJ, Folks Cafe, Wilmington Brewing Co.”
Goat and Compass and Folks Cafe will churn out a spiked coffee drink with peppermint vodka and a crushed candy cane rim. Beer Barrio will serve up their famed margaritas and chicharrónes, while Wilmington Brewing will offer a lemon-ginger saison.
Food will cross sweet and savory, from Mission BBQ’s barbecue to tuna tostadas from Port City Farmers Market Kitchen to Wake N Bake Donuts (Eggnog Maui Waui and Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cake) paired with a cocktail from The Blind Elephant. Boombalatti’s will churn out a special ice cream to go with Waterline’s Italian Christmas Gosé beer, with flavors of tomato and basil. Dram + Morsel will offer a red and yellow beet goat-cheese terrine, and in true tropical fashion, the Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar will put forth a cocktail of rum, passionfruit, falernum, and lime called “The Mummy.”
“It’s something that gives back to the community while at the same time highlighting our local chefs, mixologists and businesses,” Bays Cournoyer says.
Going along with the theme, folks will arrive and be greeted with their on lei before stepping over to have their photo taken with Andretti. Bays Cournoyer and Clark received a floral grant from Julia’s Florist to help add festive flair to the Brooklyn Arts Center.
“The theme will be reflected in the flower arrangements by Julia’s Florist, and paired with tiki-inspired decor and music from DJ Free Waterfall,” Bays Cournoyer says.” We encourage our guests to get festive with their attire.”
Also new this year is the VIP entry, limited to 20 people, for $50. VIPs will be allowed to taste and sip samples beginning at 7 p.m. General admission ($30) begins at 7:30 p.m. (Ticket holders must be 21 years of age or older.)
“It’s a bustling event,” Bays Cournoyer says, “and is set up so you move from table pairing to table pairing, sampling and sipping as you go. There is no reserved seating but we do have a smattering of cocktail tables and stools for those who want to pull up a chair. The music morphs from classic holiday fare to more upbeat, and the dance floor is rarely empty. It’s a great event to meet new people, try new tastes from area restaurants and bars or even just people watch. It may be a fundraiser but it feels like a holiday cocktail party amongst friends!”
Most importantly, every dollar raised will enhance and affect many folk’s quality of life. “Literacy affects every aspect of a persons life,” Payne reminds, “and has a significant effect on families, the workforce, and the community at large.”