The Final Ritual: Buxton Hall’s Velvet & Lace hosts its last bewitching hurrah

BEWITCHED: Bartenders Kelly Vormelker and Sam Pennington will host their last Wicca-themed bar pop-up night, Velvet & Lace, on Cinco de Mayo. Photo courtesy of Velvet & Lace

If you haven’t yet fallen under the spell of Buxton Hall Barbecue’s monthly Wicca-themed extravaganza, Velvet & Lace, you have one last chance. Organizer’s Kelly Vormelker and Sam Pennington started the bewitchingly memorable pop-up concept to celebrate outstanding women behind the bar, and after six months of parties, it is time to pack the cauldron away.

“We knew we needed an original spin for it, and it just seemed to fit with the whole femalecentric aspect,” says Vormelker of the witchy theme. “We like to make cocktails that feature a lot of different herbs and fire and smoke and local produce. And Sam has a lot of history in working with different Wiccan traditions … so that theme just seemed to fit really well for her and I. It’s something that wasn’t really being done a lot, and we just hoped people would really connect to that theme, and it looks like they have.

“Sam and I were at a cocktail competition, and I’d been trying to imagine a way to celebrate and feature female bartenders for a while,” she continues. The two established the event as a benefit for Our Voice, donating 10 percent of the night’s proceeds to the organization, which serves individuals effected by sexual abuse throughout Buncombe County. “Asheville is so amazing with all these pop-up events, that it leaves it open to do pretty much anything. We thought it would be cool to do something really femalecentric and not talk about any negative stigma with gender issues, but instead just to celebrate awesome girls doing great things.”

Past events have included free tarot card readings, a photo booth by Rose Hecht and dark tunes from DJ Night Nurse — Buxton Hall’s own Mary Kelly — who will once again be in charge of music, as she has been for all the other five events. This month’s party, falling as it does on Cinco de Mayo, also holds the promise of a tequila ice luge and bites from chef Elliott Moss.

“We feature a different local female bartender each month.” Vormelker says, noting that Velvet & Lace has highlighted the work of Erin Hawley and Daniela Diaz of MG Road, Shannon McGaughey of Bull & Beggar, Katey Ryder of Sovereign Remedies, and Andrea Seng of Imperial Life. This week will feature Kristen Oxtoby from Burial Brewing and Kimber Lawson from New Mountain. “We figured this one was going to be a blowout, so we wanted to feature two girls,” says Vormelker.

While this is the last of Velvet & Lace for the season, she says we shouldn’t expect it to disappear forever. “We’ve talked about different things to do after this. It’s not necessarily the end of Velvet and Lace for good, but we may reframe it in a new way,” she explains. “We always had this six-month projection for this series of events, and I don’t necessarily want to stop, but I think it is necessary to take a break and reevaluate what worked and what hasn’t. We don’t want to burn anyone out on the concept.”

So grab your broom and fly on down to Buxton Hall on Cinco de Mayo for some “double, double toil and trouble…” at Velvet & Lace’s Final Ritual. Just watch those doubles, though — that tequila can be strong.

Velvet & Lace’s Final Ritual happens 10 p.m.-late Thursday, May 5, at Buxton Hall Barbecue, 32 Banks Ave. For details, visit the Velvet & Lace Facebook page.

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About Jonathan Ammons
Native Asheville writer, eater, drinker, bartender and musician. Proprietor of www.dirty-spoon.com Follow me @jonathanammons

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