Photo by Alex Boerner
At Alley Twenty Six, fried oysters pair best with the pineapple-infused How Leeward? and other tiki drinks.
Cocktails are often an afterthought when thinking about your next dinner indulgence. Durham's Alley Twenty Six
opened a full kitchen in February 2017, hoping to change that.
Today, the cocktail bar and restaurant announced a monthly dinner series, "Dinner with Friends," that will raise money for World Central Kitchen, the nonprofit run by famed chef José Andrés.
It also gives chef Carrie Schleiffer free rein to concoct a menu inspired by monthly guests who are making a mark on the national cocktail scene. On January 29, Alley Twenty Six hosts Bob Peters
of the Punch Room at the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, the 2015 Global Bartender of the Year whose Instagram feed demands a follow if you're into pretty, poised cocktails. The five-course dinner with cocktail pairings is $125 and begins at six-thirty p.m.
Each dinner will be held on the last Monday of each month—except in March, when it's the last Sunday. (Who can compete with March Madness?)
Alley Twenty Six owner Shannon Healy chose World Central Kitchen as the beneficiary of the proceeds because it's an organization that speaks to the power of food culture in doing good. Chef Andrés's organization is still in Puerto Rico feeding communities devastated by Hurricane Maria. World Central Kitchen has also been in Haiti since 2010, helping to build a foundation in food systems with the island.
"In the hospitality business, there's no one we could be prouder of," Healy says of Andrés. "He shows up where governments aren't doing well and is making things happen with just the expertise of cooking with people."
The series is already committed to hosting twelve events this year, with thirty-five tickets available for each one. On February 26, "Dinner with Friends" welcomes Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves of the Cocktail Bandits
, a duo from Atlanta who tout themselves as "curly ladies who talk cocktails daily." They were two of Imbibe magazine’s “75 People, Places and Flavors That Will Shape the Way You Drink in 2018.”
The “Dinner with Friends” series is cosponsored by the Raleigh-Durham chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild, with generous support from The Durham Hotel and Kompleks Creative.