cocktail on the red carpet

To raise funds for the Cucalorus Film Festival each fall, Dan Brawley and co. began hosting an Evening on the Red Carpet Oscar party. It's a night of truly interesting guests in Wilmywood. The mayor, a state senator and representative, film-makers, writers, actors, fans and the simply curious come out to watch the actual Academy Awards on three massive screens, have a catered meal, few drinks, and mingle

Twinkledoon's Bo Webb first asked me to volunteer four years ago and we've developed a pretty sophisticated cocktail program thanks to Piedmont Distillers who helps make it happen. 

You've seen their mason jars infused with fresh fruit called Midnight Moon. Delicious and easy to sip. At manna, we substitute their apple pie moonshine for whiskey in the classic Old-Fashioned recipe for one of my favorite winter cocktails.

getting set up a few minutes before showtime

Only when I arrived at 10 am did reality hit. Scouting out our set-up inside Stage 3 of  Screen Gems Studios,  we had: three folding tables draped with black linens, a cooler (of which I unscrewed the lid with my pocketknife) in the center of our horse-shoe, no sinks, no running water, nowhere to rinse our tinsand we (foolishly or daringly, not sure) designed a menu with nine craft cocktails!

Quick palm slap to the forehead, dolt!  There would be three-hundred thirsty people here in a few hours!

Luckily, for the first time, I had Ian Murray (creator of five of the recipes, including the Apple Pie Old-Fashion mentioned above) hammering them out beside me.

Ian Murray and Joel Finsel

Two godsends followed. Both comedians. Grisled veteran Paul Obernesser signed on late the night before, probably thinking it was a coosh way to make a hundred bucks and have something official-seeming to do as he stared at skirt slits. Sorry Paul, Ian and I overplayed our hand and we need you to become a mixing machine!

Jonathan Guggenheim, who'd signed on as our barback, came through huge, working a two-drink station as we transformed into a short-order restaurant, party-goers calling out orders from the front.

Three hours passed by in seconds.

Thank you Dan, Jason, Jill and the rest of the Cucalorus crew for having us.  To see more images of the party, check out the festival's album.