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Go beyond beer with your baseball. Durham Bulls will host bourbon and wine events.

On rehab assignments, two NY Yankees all-stars face the Durham Bulls

Durham Bulls Athletic Park buzzed with excitement well before Friday night’s first pitch with major league all-stars Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, who are on rehab assignment for the Yankees, in the park.
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Durham Bulls Athletic Park buzzed with excitement well before Friday night’s first pitch with major league all-stars Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, who are on rehab assignment for the Yankees, in the park.

Beer may be the unofficial beverage of baseball, but the Durham Bulls are branching out with two special booze nights at the ballpark.

The Bulls are hosting a bourbon night and a wine Wednesday, with food specials to match.

While the Durham Bulls stadium serves the usual ballpark fare, it has a reputation for packing the park with options beyond Bud Light and bratwursts. The stadium is awash in local craft beer and vendors such as Two Roosters, Gonza Tacos and Pie Pushers.

Still, bourbon and wine tastings come a little out of left field.

The first, a July 23 game against the Pawtucket Red Sox, is all about bourbon, with a special ticket package offering a bourbon flight and snacks to match.

The whiskey lineup includes Jim Beam Black, Jim Beam Peach, Makers’ Mark 46, Knob Creek Single Barrel and Baker’s. The bourbon-spiked food menu includes bourbon-molasses bacon, grilled salmon with spicy peach bourbon sauce, chicken wings with bourbon barbecue sauce, oysters Rockefeller with cream and smoked brisket sliders.

Later in the summer, it’s wine night at the ballpark, when the Bulls take on the Syracuse Mets on Aug. 7, which is a Wednesday, making it a wine Wednesday.

This time it’s a more traditional wine and food pairing. The food menu includes a flank steak carpaccio crostini, phyllo cups of shrimp salad with chives, candied pork kielbasa, oyster Rockefellers and a watermelon and feta skewer, each paired accordingly with reds, whites and one rose.

The Durham Bulls’ director of ticket sales Brian Simorka said the promotions represent the diversity of tastes among baseball fans and evolved from mini beer festivals held at games in 2016 and 2017.

“In recent years, the local craft drink community has grown so much, beyond just the beer,” Simorka said. “Baseball has become just as much of a social event, as it is a sporting event. Our ballpark is a spot for friends, families, coworkers to come and socialize, more so than keep score. So we need to stay on top of bringing unique experiences and opportunities to the ballpark.”

Tickets to bourbon night are $75, with seats in the Carolina Hurricanes box in right field, while wine night is $60, with seats in a party deck along the third base line. Tickets come with a glass rocks glass for bourbon drinkers and a stemless silicone glass for those attending wine Wednesday.

The ballpark’s food vendor, Bull City Hospitality, slings more than popcorn and nachos, unveiling a lineup of specials each year, including a hot dog with a waffle for a bun, topped with mac and cheese, sweet potato tots and a patty melt.

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.
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