Black Girls are Refined?

Black Girl in the CLE was in the house last Saturday at Refined Alcohol Festival, mingling and helping serve up signature cocktails at one of the interactive bars. Held at Crocker Park’s Market Square, a new venue of the retail district, Refined turned out to be one of the best times I’ve had in a long time.

What made this event unique was it featured alcohol made only in Ohio. From distilleries, wineries, breweries, meaderies, to businesses specializing in craft cocktail mixers, and other beverage/food specialties, Refined was actually a great way to spend a cool spring-like Saturday afternoon. And it was for a good cause, especially if you’re into cats. They partnered with Tails from the City, a non-profit volunteer cat shelter in Ohio City.

Our shot glasses and punchcard

Our shot glasses and punchcard

Yes, there was lots of alcohol. Booths lined the perimeter of Market Square with folks from Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Toledo sharing shots, recipes, and good vibes. Everyone I observed seemed to behave responsibly. There weren’t any drunken brawls or loud obnoxious revelers. It was definitely an event for a mature crowd with refined taste.

With registration, festival-goers received a punch card and a shot glass (VIP ticket holders got a few extras items.) The punch cards were divided into 2 sections: cocktails and beer/wine. For every sample festival goers got their punch cards marked. I kept my alcohol consumption low, but I did try a few samples.

Stillwrights Distillery -  This Dayton distillery specializes in moonshine, rum, and bourbon. We used their spiced rum in our signature cocktail that everyone raved about.

Buckeye Vodka - I’m not a vodka drinker, but the girls at the booth were really nice and didn’t mind me taking their picture. I did pick up a recipe for an Ohio Moscow Mule, of course, made with their vodka.

Toledo Spirits - The bottle design of their strawberry infused vodka, Heart of Glass, stole my heart. And although I’m not a vodka drinker, it was good. It was also used in our signature cocktail, the Black Panther.

Western Reserve Meadery - It was my first time trying mead. I thought it would taste like beer, but it didn’t. Honestly, I can’t describe the taste. It wasn’t for me. If you’re curious about mead, go check them out at their tasting room on Columbus Road in Ohio City.

Voodoo Wines - Produced and bottled by Cleveland Red Light Distillery, Voodoo Wines are made with grapes from Louisiana. While I enjoyed the Witch Doctor, a mix of red sweet wine and fruit, they had an assortment of wines to choose from. These wines are sold in local Giant Eagle grocery stores.

Cleveland Urban Winery - Destiny Morgan was in the space representing her winery, our favorite place. How could I pass up a little taste of her Edgewater Blackberry Merlot?

Root 23 - These folks from Columbus had an assortment of simple syrups served up with club soda. I especially liked the pear rosemary simple syrup.

Graeter’s - This Cincy based business, which has been around over a century, specializes in handcrafted ice cream. At Refined, they held it down with their dessert sauces, one of which we used in the Black Panther.

Pleather - They served up a vegan jerky made from seitan that I couldn’t enjoy because of my braces.

OH Fuudge - I absolutely enjoyed Kelli’s Blackberry Merlot infused fudge with a potato chip. Actually, I liked all three of her fudges with chips.

Kudos to the organizers of Refined!

  • For inviting Black Girl in the CLE to serve Black Panther and Garnet (superhero sister on Steven Universe), cocktails in honor of black superheroes

  • For showcasing Ohio-based businesses

  • For giving a mature crowd a place to have a good time

  • For teaching us different ways to enjoy adult beverages, responsibly

  • For getting the party started. Hey Mr. DJ from Toledo!  (He jammed the whole time I was there. I didn’t think others noticed until I saw a crowd around the DJ stand. Good music made this event even better.)