(Crystal A. Proxmire, June 17, 2017)
Ferndale, MI – Patrons hit the town Thursday night in Downtown Ferndale to raise money – and their glasses – in support of public art.
The Art of the Cocktail event took place at M-Brew and Valentine Distilling with nine bartenders from local bars competing to see who could make the best cocktail from ingredients provided – including gin and vodka from Valentine.
In addition to the libations, guests enjoyed bidding on silent auction items and mingling between the two buildings to the sounds of a live jazz band. Proceeds support public art in the community including the award-winning Art in SMART project that was recognized by Main Street Oakland County with the “On a Shoestring” Award in May. Volunteers decorated a bus stop at 9 Mile and Woodward with a fresh coat of red paint, a wall full of paper flowers and a “green” roof topped with succulents. The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) hopes to expand the project to other stops.
Resident Melinda Cupples is a volunteer with the DDA and a supporter of public art. At last year’s Art of the Cocktail event she successfully bid on the chance to be a guest bartender for the 2017 event. She and pal Kara Gazda were “having a blast” mixing up their special blend of muddled strawberries, lime, basil, ginger beer, club soda and Valentine’s Liberator Gin, which they garnished with a blueberry and a raspberry.
“It’s important to me because we need art in the community and I want to support our Downtown businesses,” Cupples said.
Tom Kenez of Great Lakes Distributing was happy to provide support for the event – as well as to attend. The Lathrup Village resident said he is “always impressed” with Art of the Cocktail.
“Cindy Wilcock of the DDA has taken a simple idea and grown it into this amazing event. She and all the volunteers really put their heart into it. And of course it features Valentine’s. Rifino and Nick [Valentine] are good people to work with. I’ve watched them grow from just this space here, which used to be their production facility, to being a world class producer with a top of the line facility over on Wanda Street,” Kenez said. “The best vodka in the world and it’s made right here in Michigan. Can you believe that?” Valentine’s many awards are listed on their website http://valentinedistilling.com/.
As far as the Art of the Cocktail competition, the honor of “Ferndale’s Best” went to Samantha Sage of Go Comedy! Improv Theatre.
Other bartenders – Jordan Semma of J’s Penalty Box, Guy Krowl of Ferndale Elks #1588, Desmond Oliver of The Oakland, Jarrod Kassis of The Conserva, Lisa Thaqi of The Bosco, Traci Jo Rizzo of GreenSpace Cafe, Guest Bartenders Melinda Cupples and Kara Gazda, and last minute fill-in Bobby Durrant of M-Brew – also won the hearts of the crowd.
To learn more about Downtown Ferndale, including its variety of places to party and the plethora of public art, visit www.downtownferndale.com.