Local Bites: Cask Social Kitchen

Last Friday marked my final day at HSN before heading into my new role as social media specialist at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital - to say a proper farewell and celebrate a wonderful year full of memories and learning opportunities, I had colleagues meet me for one final hurrah at one of my favorite spots in Tampa: Cask Social Kitchen.

Without a doubt, the Loft Lounge at Cask Social is my go-to spot for hosting private parties. Last year, I hosted both pH's 30th birthday surprise party and my oldest sister's baby shower in the intimate upstairs space at Cask Social. A $100 bartender's fee gets you access to the bar upstairs and a personal bartender for your party; you can opt to have your guests pay for their own tabs, or there are appetizer platters and brunch/dinner menus that can be arranged for your party. For pH's 30th, I booked the bar and opted for multiple appetizer platters for our friends to enjoy. For my sister's baby shower, we had a custom brunch menu for her guests.

This time around, I reserved the bar space and shared light bites with friends. Our bartender, Hana, is the best. I remember as I was setting up for pH's birthday party last year, I'd mentioned that I was starting to get hit with a cold, and she made me antioxidant-rich mocktails to sip on. Holy moly, were they the best freakin' mocktails I've ever tasted. Let me let you in on a little secret about me: if I want to have a really good time while out with friends, I won't drink - because the truth is, I get lethargic when I drink, which leads to me being a really boring compadre. So, on Friday, I asked her to once again shake me up some of her delicious, non-alcoholic creations, and they were just as amazing as I remembered.

Of course, she doesn't just specialize in non-alcoholic drinks - she's amazing at creating the boozy ones, too. pH is such a snob when it comes to drinking - he's a bourbon/whisky fella, and tends to turn his nose at most cocktails in the area. He loved the Vieux Carre that Hana made him - other favorites included the Whiskey Smash and the Paper Plane, included on Cask's Specialty Drinks Menu.

My delicious grapefruit-garnished mocktail.

pH's Vieux Carre

We ordered our favorite appetizers, Buffalo Cauliflower and Tuna Tartare (not pictured, because I ran into the common issue of excitedly eating prior to taking photos). But, I'm pretty darn sure that the highlight of my evening was the Chef's Seafood platter that pH ordered for me - out came a mound of stone crab claws, jumbo shrimp and freshly-shucked oysters. I cried.

Overall, it was an amazing evening filled with great people and equally great food and drinks. If you plan on hosting a large get-together, I highly recommend considering Cask Social Kitchen - you can reach out to Allison Gorrell via email at allison@planamgmt.com to get the planning process underway. All three of the events I've had at Cask Social have been absolutely wonderful, and I will continue to make it my number one option for parties!