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click to enlarge Scott Smith paired wines relating to the Zodiac with the Pink Palace event.
  • Scott Smith paired wines relating to the Zodiac with the Pink Palace event.

Development director Jeni Stephens is the whiz behind the food and beverage fund-raisers for the Memphis Pink Palace family of museums.

She's orchestrated a tasting of varietals at the Residences at the Greenstone (architect Hubert T. McGhee designed the Greenstone and the Pink Palace), staged a cocktail lounge for "Pinots at the Palace," and threw a barbecue with bourbon and beer at the Lichterman Nature Center.

Now it's time for "Astronomical Wines and Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka" on August 27th, starting at 5:30 p.m. A ticket will get you 12 pours (six wine, six vodka), dinner catered by Wade and Co. (stuffed mushrooms, pork tenderloin, and crab cakes) and a 25-minute show at the Pink Palace planetarium. Tickets are $30 for members and $40 for nonmembers.

"The evening will even include a talk on Bacchus, the Roman god of wine," Stephens says. "It's a two-hour event, so there will be plenty of time to taste, eat, and mingle."

Wines for the tasting have been selected by Scott Smith, owner of the Wine Market in East Memphis. Finding wines with a heavenly tie-in took a little time, Smith admits. Eventually, he settled on wines with a name or label relating to the Zodiac. The selections combine cute packaging with taste and value (prices range from $11 to $18). "I love the Folie A Deux Zinfandel [Amador, 2005]," Smith says about his Gemini pick. "It's one of my favorite Zins in the store."

In addition to wines, participants can sample Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka in such flavors as mint, peach, and raspberry. The vodka is hand-crafted on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, where it is distilled four times, blended with Louisiana sugar cane, and diffused with locally grown tea from the only tea plantation in America.

Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central, (320-6424)

Aldo Demartino has a straightforward approach for filling up his Bardog Tavern on weekday evenings. "If women come in, men will follow," he says.

To entice the ladies, Demartino is offering $3 drinks Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. "It's $3 drinks no matter what they order," Demartino says. "We're hoping women will stop by after work."

Demartino describes his cocktails as "consistent, classic, and tasty" and says Bardog's mojito (a traditional highball from Cuba) is the best in downtown Memphis. "We skip the club soda and use crushed ice instead of cubed," he says.

Next up on Bardog's entertainment menu is a one-year anniversary party on September 20th from noon to 6 p.m. The event will spill into the bar's adjoining alley with a band, beer, and outdoor grill. There also will be a dunking booth (remember those?) and servers in bikinis.

Bardog Tavern, 73 Monroe, (275-8752)

The Madison Hotel's rooftop parties, a downtown staple for Thursday nights in the summer, are continuing into the fall with a new cigar series called "Smoking Up High: High-Class, Low-Key." The series kicked off Monday, and the next event is set for September 8th.

Although smoking is prohibited inside the Madison, the hotel's rooftop offers a scenic, open-air venue to enjoy cigars, drinks, and food, says managing partner Mohamad Hakimian. Smokers can complement a cigar and single-malt scotch with small plates like scallop fritters, proscuitto and Manchego grilled cheese, and meatballs in spicy tomatillo sauce. They also can learn a little something from Robb Hunter, owner of Havana Mix Cigar Emporium, a new smoke shop on South Second Street that sells tobacco and more than 10,000 cigars.

"Cigars are a reflection of character, charisma, and a spirit of inclusion," says Hunter, who offers his cigars for sale and his expertise for free at the rooftop events.

Hunter opened his store in July and already has plans for a Havana club at the location by the end of the year. "We'll have fine wine and martinis and authentic food," he said, citing as examples pressed sandwiches, fried plantains, and boliche, a type of Cuban pot roast stuffed with chorizo sausage.

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