Every October, the best bar in town opens for one night only. It does not, directly, accept cash for the drinks and it has the best food, hands down, on the beach. How in the world has it stayed open for 30 years?
Taste of the Town is considered the best culinary event on the Grand Strand. Bringing together more than 50 of the area’s best restaurants, this is the night for ocals to mingle with the food that they love so much. The Myrtle Beach Convention Center plays host every year and offers a great setting for the festivities. Tons of food, drinks, live music and the coveted awards that go to the cream of the crop each year.
But let us focus on the important issues: the drinks.
While the food takes center stage every year, the beverages have really stepped up their game for the 30th incarnation of Taste, which was held Tuesday evening. Needless to say, the adult section of the event was keeping a great pace with the chefs on the main floor.
This year, we saw some of the best craft breweries in the country make an appearance. Names including Goose Island from Chicago, Smutty Nose from New Hampshire and Lagunitas from California were all a part of the campaign. Anytime I can walk up to a bar and give four tickets for a cold IPA, that is a good day. Thank you Taste of the Town.
The selection of pumpkin beer was a great idea - seasonal and from people that know how to make it well. There were tasting sheets, lots of adjectives and ABV (alcohol by volume) percentages discussed at the bars this year. It was amazing. A true definition of a beer garden.
Sam Adams, the only acceptable major brewery in my opinion, had a bar of its own and poured the standard brews and seasonal kegs as well. This is never a bad thing. Adams produces some of the most consistent and world renowned brews on the planet. To say that the kegs don’t have a place at Taste of the Town would be far too judgmental.
I also noticed, tucked back in the corner, a Budweiser Lime-A-Rita stand. There was no line at this bar, so that is a great sign for us hard core imbibers on the Grand Strand. Sweet and fruity are saved for the shot menu and true crafted brews were being enjoyed by the masses. Thank you for the effort Bud and Bud Light, but we will stick to the crafted mugs.
Nestled next to the beer bars were massive tables of wine. They were boasting up to eight different glasses offered in some of the most popular varietals available. Producers from the likes of Stone Cellars Winery by Beringer and Wyndham Estate were serving various varietals and styles of wine. From Moscato to Pinot Noir, it was all flowing at Taste of the Town.
Granted, for safety reasons, we still drank from the plastic catering cups. But no one seemed to mind all that much given the selection of drinks offered. This is a far cry from the old days of “red or white”.
As locals on the Grand Strand, we know our food and we, certainly, know our beverages. It makes total sense for these two to start adding up in quality at events like this. Restaurants such as Greg Norman’s Australian Grille at Barefoot Landing and Sam Snead’s Oak Grill & Tavern in Carolina Forest beg for higher quality glasses, or cups in this case. If you are going to make charred meat for four tickets, why not get a decent wine for the same? It al happened this year and the masses seemed most pleased.
Celebrity Chef Aaron Sanchez of the Food Network shows “ Chopped,” “ The Best I Ever...,” and other programs was on hand to teach and enjoy. He commented that he felt welcome and enjoyed the high quality food and drink. This is a great validation.
As we move forward in tourism, raising our own standards will be necessary to keep up with a national opinion of food and drink. In addition to being THE premier culinary event for the yearly calendar in Myrtle Beach, the organizers at Taste of the Town have taken this event to a level that is simply astounding based on the volume.
It is very easy to fall into mediocrity when it comes to satisfying the masses on this level. The food at Taste of the Town is pushed beyond the limits each year and, now, we are seeing the same in the beverage section of the venue.
These are good times for us. Good times.