The Metro Times staff proved last January they knew how to heat things up in Royal Oak when they premiered a new winter event – a Russian-themed vodka tasting simply titled Vodka Vodka.
Hosted at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market, the party sold out within the first hour. The room was filled with revelers in furry hats, clinking martini glasses and enjoying culinary treats infused with vodka from the area’s most notable restaurants.
So why wouldn’t they bring it back this year?
Vodka Vodka resumes its reign as the party of the season at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28 at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market, 316 E. 11 Mile in Royal Oak.
In the meantime, UrbaneLife caught up with a few participants as well as MT Promotions Manager Maria Stella Jewett for some details on what’s planned this year.
“We really wanted to find a way to highlight great drinks, great local cuisine and also bring people together for a good cause, Forgotten Harvest,” said Jewett. The proceeds support Forgotten Harvest’s mission to fight hunger by donating food to emergency providers in the metro Detroit area.
This time Vodka Vodka will be even bigger – adding three vodka brands and four restaurants to appeal to everyone’s tastebuds. “There will be so many great options to choose from,” said Jewett. “At last count there will be around 54 different flavors of Vodka to sample, some mixed courtesy of Fuze beverages. Valentine Vodka, a local vodka, will be using another local company, McClure’s Pickles, to make Bloody Marys.”
Rifino Valentine, owner of Ferndale-based Valentine Vodka, participated in the inaugural event last year and said he finds it rewarding to meet people who are enjoying the product. “Vodka Vodka is unique in that we are right next to the major, worldwide vodka brands,” he said. “I love the fact that people are able to sample the well known brands and then step to our booth and be absolutely amazed that one of the world’s best is made right in their backyard.”
For the event, Valentine said, they’ll be teaming with Detroit-based McClure’s Pickles to create a Detroit Dirty martini. “We use McClure’s Spicy Pickle Brine instead of olive juice,” he said. In addition, two of the dishes featured at the event will be crafted with Valentine Vodka. “Cliff Bell’s is making a petite blini with smoked salmon with Valentine Vodka creme fraiche, and Treat Dreams of Ferndale is serving a special dreamsicle ice cream made with Valentine Vodka,” he said.
Just look for the vintage Valentine bootlegging truck and Valentine Belle and you’ll be sure to find the booth.
Also set to return this year, Royal Oak’s Zumba Mexican Grille. Zumba’s Tim Castaneda said he’s preparing a Bowl-Rito Bar for the event. It was easy to say yes to the Metro Times. He said not only is Vodka Vodka a great event, it was a good experience last year and it’s held about 1,000 feet away from his restaurant.
Stop by the Zumba Bowl-Rito Bar and you’ll find an array of stewed chicken, ground beef, pinto beans, cheese, guacamole and the highlight – Zodiac Zumba Bloody Mary Salsa. Zumba has partnered with locally-made Zodiac vodka to craft a special salsa for the event. “It worked pretty good last year,” Castaneda said.
Because the event is vodka-focused, organizers are concerned that attendees plan to get home safely. Last year it was a cinch to grab a cab. If you go, please choose a designated driver or make arrangements. “We are partnering once again with The Designate, a Birmingham-based company that will drive your vehicle home for you,” said Jewett. “We are also starting the party an hour later this year, at 8 p.m., to give attendees some time to plan their trip to and from the event. We always encourage safe consumption and recommend scheduling a cab a head of time to avoid any hassles.”
Metro Times suggests purchasing tickets – $35 – ahead of time at ticketweb.com. Organizers are expecting a sell-out situation at the door, where tickets will be $40. ”We are looking forward to a wonderful night for a great cause,” added Jewett.
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