Smithfield Herald

Museum throwing a countywide cocktail party

This past June, the county’s first 301 Endless Yard Sale showed that Johnston communities could work together to stage a successful event.

This year’s Ava Gardner Festival is taking a page from that playbook, inviting area wineries, breweries and restaurants to throw “Mad About Ava” cocktail parties on Friday, Oct 4.

“The museum holds about 200 people, so tickets sales are limited for the Friday night party there, and this option expands the number of guests who can be part of the festivities,” said Todd Johnson, museum director.

While the museum holds a cocktail party, the wineries along the Muscadine Heritage Wine Trail will host “Wine Down Friday” events on Oct. 4. From 6 to 9 p.m., Hinnant Family Vineyards near Pine Level will serve the “Ava-ator,” a fruit wine-blend slushy. Gregory Vineyard near McGee’s Crossroads will serve “Ava,” a white wine slushy with cherry lime twist, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Adam’s Vineyard near Willow Spring will serve the “R-Ava-tini,” a wine-infused martini mix, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Two breweries have opened in Johnston County in 2013 – Deep River Brewing Co. in Clayton and Double Barley Brewing near Wilson’s Mills. On Oct. 4, Deep River will open at 4:30 p..m. and serve “Gardner’s Daughter,” a chocolate-infused stout with hints of coconut. Double Barley will open at 5 p.m. and serve a craft beer called “From Beer From Eternity,” a nod to Ava’s third husband Frank Sinatra and his film, “From Here to Eternity.”

“We invite visitors to stop at area restaurants as well,” Johnson said. Participating restaurants include The Flipside in downtown Clayton and Bistro on Third on South Third Street in Smithfield. At Bistro on Third, Broadslab Distillery will showcase several moonshine and rum cocktails.

Each location on the party trail, including the Little Brown Jug in downtown Smithfield, will channel 1960s fashions with a costume contest that guests can enter by posting photos on the museum’s Facebook page.

At the museum itself, the cocktail party, with heavy hors d’oeuvres, is $25 per person. Columbian-American guitarist Carlos Castilla will perform, door prizes will be available, and Edible Arts in Raleigh will serve a specially designed cake with scenes from “The Night of the Iguana,” a film starring Gardner.

At 9:30 p.m., the museum will hold a drawing for a trip to Puerto Vallarta. The trip includes three nights at the Vamar Vallarta Marina and Beach Resort, airfare, meals and beverages. Raffle tickets are $25 each and may be purchased at each participating location on the cocktail party trail.