One of our favorite family traditions is visiting the Vacaville Festival of Trees in late November. We love seeing all the beautifully decorated trees and struggle to pick a favorite among so many clever and creative designs. Trevor always does the scavenger hunt, then we browse through the craft items for sale. We buy treats from the bake shop to enjoy as we agonize over which raffle prize buckets to drop our tickets in. It's such a fun event. And, we love that all the proceeds from the event benefit the Opportunity House homeless shelter.
In 2020, COVID meant that the Festival of Trees looked a lot different than usual. The decorated trees were displayed individually in storefront windows throughout downtown and bidding was virtual. Baked goods sales moved online as well. The three of us loved spending a beautiful fall day strolling through Vacaville in search of the trees. 2021 will have the same format and we're already looking forward to it.
There's one facet of the Festival of Trees that we've never participated in, and that's the Gala. Until now! We're not attending the Gala, but Steve and I did help decide the Signature Drink that will be served there. For $65, we got a "Cocktails for a Cause" ticket, good for 8 cocktails from 7 Vacaville restaurants and one vote for a winner. During the month of September, we visited each restaurant to try the drink and meet the bartenders competing for the honor.
After not eating in restaurants from March 2020 to June 2021, it was really nice to have a reason to revisit our favorite Vacaville restaurants. And not only did we enjoy our favorites, but we discovered two more new-to-us places that we'll definitely return to in the future.
The competing restaurants and their drinks include:
BackDoor Bistro: "It's 5 O'Clock on an Island Somewhere" (Jon)
Burger City: "James and the Giant Peach Mule" (Kelly)
Clay Oven: "Ooh La La Lemon Drop" (Jeet)Fuso Italian Restaurant: "Cinnamon Dreamsicle" (Rachael)
Merchant & Main: "Snowy Red" (Ari)Merchant & Main: "The Grinch that Stole Christmas" (Nick)
Tahoe Joe's: "Sierra Mountain Spritz" (Allison)Los Reyes Restaurante Y Cantina: Señorita Blush (Lucy) - the 2020 champ!
Picking one winner was soooooo difficult for me! Steve gave the nod to Jon at BackDoor Bistro for his spectacular "It's 5 0'Clock On an Island Somewhere." While I liked it too, I didn't think it made sense for an elegant evening Gala surrounded by Christmas trees. And that is the same issue I had with quite a few of the other drinks. Lucy's "Señorita Blush" was my favorite drink, the one I'd order again and again, but it was fruity and tropical and perfectly refreshing for a hot summer afternoon... not for a winter gala.
My runner up was Allison's "Sierra Mountain Spritz." It was delicious and would go well in a winter setting. But ultimately, I voted for Ari's "Snowy Red." Not only did it taste fantastic and feels like Christmas, but the ruby red color with the rosemary garnish will look so striking at the Gala.
Steve and I have a new annual tradition! Cocktails for a Cause was so much fun and such a clever and creative fundraiser that we're planning to support year after year.