There are some things in life that are worth every single moment and every bit of energy you put into them. Kids are first to mind, of course, but I’m talking beyond the realm of family. I’m looking outside to causes that make a positive impact in people's lives. LUNGevity IS that worthwhile cause.
Let me tell you just a little bit about this organization. LUNGevity is the largest private funder of lung cancer research and offers the largest online support network for lung cancer patients. It is dedicated to ending lung cancer NOW. Because 1 in 14 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer, each one of us knows or has known someone who has somehow been affected. Lung cancer kills more Americans than breast, colorectal, prostate and pancreatic cancer combined. LUNGevity works diligently across the country to put an end to this insidious disease.
What does this have to do with today's Dinner Plan-it post? Somehow I was fortunate enough to be connected with this organization to help kick off the very first LUNGevity mixology fundraiser here in Pittsburgh. Along with Michael Green, respected Wine and Spirits consultant to Gourmet Magazine for 19 years, and Bill Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter for spirits, liquor, cocktails and bars, I was the remaining third of the trio of judges at a night of cocktail magic. What an experience! What a dynamic group of moving and shaking (no pun intended) people! What a night of Shakin' It Up To STOP Lung Cancer!
|In the kitchen and getting ready!|
Groundwork had been laid long before I ever was pulled into the fold, but we built upon that framework and gathered some of the BEST mixologists in Pittsburgh to dazzle the lucky people who would eventually attend the event. Shakin’ It Up To Stop Lung Cancer pitted mixologists in a head-to-head competition that incorporated Penn 1681 Vodka and healthy ingredients in a cocktail. What a creative group of bartenders we have here in Pittsburgh!
Ingredients such as freshly crushed red grapes, fresh pumpkin, pineapple and apples, whole blueberries and blackberries and even ancho chiles were all in abundance. Fresh herbs and spices, too, pumped up the cocktails…mint, sage, thyme, clove, cinnamon, basil...a virtual garden! A rainbow of colors and flavors!
|Kevin and Tara showing off Penn 1681 Vodka!|
Each one of the bar chefs could describe to you just what the benefit of their healthy ingredients provided. Kevin Saftner from James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy created a cocktail using freshly crushed red grapes and called it a Grape Sparkler. Kevin explained that red grapes contain a substance called reversatrol that inhibits wrinkles and is beneficial to your heart! Who knew?!
|Stevie P with a little cocktail magic!|
Stevie P, from Liquid Flair Entertainment, used a juice extractor on fresh pumpkins to create from-scratch pumpkin syrup for his Bobbing for Pumpkins cocktail...it won the People's Choice Award! A cocktail with carotenoids that help neutralize free radicals in your body? A cocktail with antioxidants that help prevent cataracts? One that has zinc and iron and fiber, too? Thank you Stevie P!
|Marie of Stir Society and Mike of Meat & Potatoes|
Mike Mills, yes, THE Mike Mills from Meat & Potatoes(!), used acai, agave, damson plum liqueur and a special mixture of bitters in creating the Judges' Choice Award winning cocktail. Garnished with a single rose petal, I can attest it was as beautiful as it was intoxicatingly delicious!
|Judges Award: Never Been Kissed by Mike Mills, left People's Choice Award: Bobbing For Pumpkins by Stevie P, center|
Tara Shinn of Cioppino in the Strip District used fresh blueberries and thyme to create her delightful Blueberry Thyme; Marie Perriello, of The Stir Society, incorporated apples, cloves and citrus in her Manhattan Mule; Allie Contreras of Root 174 used apples, apple cider, freshly made sage syrup and citrus to come up with her Fall Slumber - there was even a bit of bacon bitters...mmmm; Glasgow in the Summer Time was Colin Anderson's (Bar Marco) contribution featuring fresh pineapple juice, blackberries and mint; and Dish Osteria's RaeLynn Harshman created her refreshing Turchino with a homemade fresh blueberry shrub garnished with a basil leaf.
|All 9 contenders|
|Allie Contreras pouring an Autumn Slumber|
For those not wanting to indulge, mocktail versions of the above cocktails were available as well as soft drinks. A very special selection of craft beers and ales and wines were flowing, too. And no evening of cocktails - healthy or not - should be undertaken without a sumptuous spread of appetizers. Crabcakes, a wealth of sushi, tender meatballs, cheeses, meats, fresh fruits, Caprese salad, shrimp...I could go on and on just like the beautifully decorated tables that seemed to stretch forever.
|Just a peek of the appetizer selections.|
Believe it or not, plans are already underway for next year's bigger and even better event that will coincide with Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Mark your calendars NOW for Thursday, November 7th, 2013 at J Verno Studios on Jane Street in the Southside. BE THERE! I will!
Oh, wait! You didn't think I'd leave you without a cocktail recipe, did you? Of course I wouldn't! Here is THE recipe from Colin Anderson of Bar Marco in the Strip District:
Glasgow in the Summer Time
Pineapple juice, blackberry shrub (Whole Foods in East Liberty carries shrubs in the beverage section), mint, Angostura bitters, seltzer (Colin used Pittsburgh Seltzer in those gorgeous bottles), Penn 1681 Vodka
Lightly muddle 6 mint leaves in 1/4 oz. of rich demerara syrup (or simple syrup). Add 2 parts pineapple juice (1-1/2 oz), 2 parts vodka (or water or a mocktail), 1 part blackberry shrub (3/4 oz.) and 5 dashes of Angostura bitters.
Shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain, add ice, top with seltzer and garnish with a healthy mint stalk.
Don't wait until next year to support the work of the LUNGevity Foundation. Please donate today. Here's the link...and thank you!
|Stevie P looks on as Mike Mills gets a congratulatory hug from Beth Westbrook Starnes - the driving force behind Shakin' It Up To Stop Lung Cancer.|