WHAT YOU MISSED: #AfterWorkDrinksTO 8 — The Dress for Success Edition

After Work Drinks Toronto 8 — #AWDTO —

As an event becomes more popular, you can’t keep it free forever. From its humble beginnings in February 2012 where every tweetup starts — a group of people from Twitter meeting up to go out and have a good time — After Work Drinks Toronto keeps raising the (wait for it) bar for events of its kind, building greater partnerships to make sure that anyone going can have an amazing time.

There’s only one way to start this post — I’ve never seen a tweetup get so full so quickly. By the time the event was an hour in, there were easily already 40-50 people in the bar area, ready to slake their thirsts with Mount Gay Silver Mojito cocktails (ridiculously addictive), Melville’s Craft Lager and Innis & Gunn beers and a decent selection of red and white wines!

Much like before, I volunteered my time and camera to Amanda and Graham because I believe in what they’re doing with After Work Drinks Toronto (or AWDTO for short). [Disclaimer: In return, they were kind enough to give me a free ticket, but that’s not why I offered my services in the first place.] Nothing worthwhile happens overnight, and through their hard work and diligence, AWDTO is really coming into its own. Each instalment continues to set the bar higher, and I hope we continue to see many more as we finally head into the summer!

 

The night went well — it was a mish-mash of food; drink, comments from our wonderful organizers (Amanda and Graham, as mentioned above) and sponsors (Mahit Lehang from First Choice Bartenders representing Melville’s Craft Lager and Innis & Gunn; representatives from Mount Gay Rum; and of course, Robin James Wynne, mixologist at Fynn’s Temple Bar); prize giveaways (none of which I won, don’t worry); caricatures (by Valerie White); music (by Matt Morgan and Craig Johnston of the Emerson Street Rhythm Band — at times accompanied by Joey deVilla); and just a lot of being social.

There was all sorts of activity going on, from discussion to dancing — if you looked out the corner of your eye, you could even see Christine helping run her weekly #RBchat Twitter chat at one of the tables! When you got in, you got an envelope containing tickets for beer sampling (of the Melville’s Fruit Beer — Innis & Gunn beer was on special for $5 a pint, though!), a Mount Gay Silver Mojito and  wine; a raffle ticket; and a playing card to play in the Best Poker Hand Draw, where you’d team up with four other people to come up with the best poker hand for a prize (a clever icebreaker)! They also drew for the person who was best-dressed as voted by the crowd, with the winner going to the County in the City festival with a friend!

While not conducive to heavy foot traffic, the Fynn’s of Temple Bar definitely has all the makings of an excellent pub…

Food Was Amazing

If I wasn’t trying to take photos and mingle, I would’ve stolen plates of bacon-wrapped scallops, pulled pork taquitos and duck confit on tangy pineapple flatbread and sat in a corner all night stuffing my face. The apps were glorious, and my stomach wasn’t taking “no” for an answer! The full list of food was as follows:

  • Duck confit on tangy pineapple flatbread
  • Pulled pork taquitos
  • Seared mahi mahi sliders
  • Potato & kale croquettes
  • Bacon-wrapped scallops with red pepper mayo
  • Spicy pork dumplings

Drinks A-Flowin’

I only had time to try a Melville’s raspberry Craft Lager and a Mount Gay Silver Mojito (which, again, was utterly delicious and ridiculously addictive), but there was a ton being offered up that night:

  • Mount Gay Silver Mojito (a strawberry basil peppered mojito)
  • Beer samples: Innis & Gunn’s Melville’s Fruit Beers in strawberry, raspberry and ginger beer flavours
  • Wines
    • Whites: Henry of Pelham Spring rivalry, Domain Faively Chablis, Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc, and Uma Torrontes
    • Reds: Creekside Estates Shiraz, Torres Tempranillo, Pelham Catherine Cuvee Rose, Malivoire Ladybug Rose

Live Music

 

The night’s entertainment were Matt Morgan and Craig Johnston of the Emerson Street Rhythm Band who were both talented and entertaining, doing a mix of crowd-pleasers (see Neil Diamonds “Sweet Caroline”, for example) and always making sure to interact with the crowd and keep the energy levels riding high! You can see some more details on the experience on Joey deVilla’s blog, who would accompany them for several songs later into the night!

Great Service

Robin and his Fynn’s staff were amazing — all smiles and service as they made sure that gusts were well-fed and having a great time (I will not confirm whether the alcohol samples paid any contribution to the great time being had)!

Killer Caricatures

I just missed the window to get one done, but Valerie White was super-talented, whipping up amazing profile drawings of various attendees in mere minutes for a pay-what-you-can donation to Dress for Success! Here’s some of the awesome that she whipped up:

What You Missed

In the end the event raised $383.45 for Dress for Success, and though I don’t know the specific turnout, from the photos and who I know was there, I’d guess a good 50 or so people in attendance, experiencing what AWDTO had to offer.

But that’s not what you missed.

 

What you really missed at After Work Drinks Toronto this time around was an opportunity to expand your social circles beyond what they are right now. The chance to meet people actually interested in exploring new things with you and not just out to give you excuses for why they can’t come (I heard of at least 2 groups of new friends going out for a bite after the event!) Events like AWDTO help remind us that we’re in control of our lives — in control of who we choose to hang around and what we choose to do with our time.

After Work Drinks Toronto reeks of possibility — so hopefully you make it out to the 9th instalment!

Change your life!

You can see more about the event at any of the links below.

The Epilogger run-down of After Works Drinks Toronto 8

My full gallery of 113 photos from the event on Google+

Fynn's of Temple Bar on Urbanspoon

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COMING RIGHT UP: After Work Drinks Toronto 8 — The Dress for Success Edition

If you want to make the most out of social media, one of the most important things you need to do is meet people. Gone are the days where you can simply exist behind a screen name and expect to change your life — people want a person they can relate to; someone they can understand… and no amount of detail on an online profile ever does this justice.
I met my first online friend back in 2005, and I haven’t stopped since — it’s a massive world out there; how’re you going to know how you fit into it if you don’t start exploring?

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After Work Drinks Toronto (or AWDTO) has always been a good place to start doing this. Run by Amanda Blake with help from her boyfriend Graham Rowlands and a cast of friends, AWDTO has always been about enjoying a casual time out with friends (both old and new) over drinks, and preferably on a patio (but definitely not with the weather Toronto’s been having as of late!) I’ve been to a couple so far, and even though I constantly think that I’ve met everyone I could meet on social media in Toronto, I’m always pleasant surprised to come across even more at AWDTO sessions, such as Adeline, who’s a nutritional consultant, brought cupcakes to my birthday party last year and sees me as her “older brother”; and Taylor, who I’d wanted to meet for ages and never got the opportunity to do so!

#AWDTO Movember (166 of 168)

Since the AWDTO Movember edition, AWDTO has given back as a not-for-profit event, and this time is no exception! $5 of every ticket goes back to the Dress for Success charity, which focuses on promoting “the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life” (and coincidentally based out of my church in The Annex!) And if you’re wondering — the rest of the cash goes back to the event and to make sure that future AWDTOs are just as amazing!
This edition of After Work Drinks Toronto will feature:
  • the best of Scotland with an Innis & Gunn sampling;
  • a special pint pricing on Innis & Gunn for AfterWorkDrinksTO guests;
  • a Caribbean getaway with a Special AfterWorkDrinksTO  Mount Gay Rum cocktail prepared by Robin James Wynne @djrobinjames, a Canadian award-winning mixologist and Mount Gay rep;
  • getting fancy with Select Wines for a wine tasting (region TBA);
  • a great selection of canapes to pair with the drinks;
  • live band playing awesome funk and Motown music (dancing encouraged!); and
  • great prize giveaways & swag!

Don’t think for a second that you need to be in downtown Toronto to get in on the AWDTO action — it’s open to anyone, anywhere, who wants a bit of fun, and to sweeten the deal, they’re giving away:

  • a $25 Hailo credit which you could definitely use to get through that rush hour traffic to the event; and
  • 2 tickets to After Work Drinks Toronto (worth $40)!

Use the Rafflecopter below to enter (and feel free to get a few extra entries — you never know when a free taxi ride will come in handy!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, if you grab your tickets by Sunday, April 14th, you’ll be entered in a draw to win two (2) free Toronto FC tickets valued at $54! So get on it!

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So come out. Meet new people. Do something different. After Work Drinks Toronto 8 is $20 in advance (and are no longer being sold at the door — this party’s gotten that live!!!) and at Fynns of Temple Bar on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. Find further details at http://afterworkdrinksto.eventbrite.com/ and we’ll definitely see you there!

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WHAT YOU MISSED: Struttin’ and Stuntin’ at CanyonOnFront

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Justin always keeps it boss. Always.

“Last night was mad real.”

–Kanye West, “No Church in the Wild”, Watch the Throne, 2011

Anyone who wants to tell me that Toronto’s a boring city obviously isn’t looking hard enough.

There was once a time where I’d spend a lot of time home at a loss for things to do (read: when I lived in Mississauga), but Twitter broke those floodgates wide open, bringing a ridiculous number of opportunities to — as OutKast would put it — “Git up, git out and git somethin'” out of Toronto.

And Wednesday, October 17 was a perfect example of this.

Meats, Greets and Shufflin’ Feet: CanyonOnFront

To paraphrase Justin Baisden, CanyonOnFront was what a tweetup is supposed to be like.

I felt the love as soon as I got there, with Tiff (one of my favourite Tweeps) holding it down at the front entrance, making sure we were covered for free beers and appetizers, and Kate (one of my favourite Tweeps I’ve met lately) ushering us to the back of the room, I was expecting the event to be dope, and it did not disappoint.

The back of the room was totally where it was at. With a gathering of a good number of my favourite people I’ve ever met on Twitter, some of the sickest beats ever laid by Kayson Stone (seriously — the man could not play a lame song once, it was ridiculous!!!) and the delicious steak that Canyon Creek always has to offer, what more could you ask for?

Turns out we didn’t have to ask; they had a lot more to give! Take a look at this list of things we got for the glorious price of free:

  • Two Steamwhistle beers
  • Seeing tons of awesome Tweeps all in the same place
  • Kayson Stone keeping the dance floor vibin’ with just about every song on my Top 500 Most Played iTunes playlist
  • CFL and NHL celebs mingling with us common folk and having a great time
  • Being thanked for our patronage with a hand-written card, $20 Canyon Creek gift card and voucher for a free Steamwhistle Brewery tour

A Top-Class Tweetup

What made this Tweetup stand out from so many others that I’ve been to these past few years was the attention to every little detail that defined the guests’ experience. Giving them discount and freebies they could actually use — and immediately. Creating an amazing atmosphere where you could meet new people and have tons of fun with some you already knew. Making guests feel appreciated with hand-written “thank you” cards on the way out. All this and not having to pay a dime unless you wanted to just blows my mind!

Justin said that CanyonOnFront easily ranks in his Top 5 tweetups of all time, and I’d find it really hard to disagree with him on this one.

Big ups to Tiff and Kate who obviously know a thing or two about throwing one bad-ass party!

Two very different events. One very awesome night. The next time you want to say that your city is boring, you might want to take a look around — there’s a lot of people doing a lot of amazing things.

And who wouldn’t want to be part of the action???

Canyon Creek Chophouse on Urbanspoon

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#SaugaTweetup

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#SaugaTweetup was undoubtedly a success on Wednesday night.

The best event bloggers in the city must be getting paid to write about the things they go to, because there’s no way you can hold a full-time job down, maintain a social life, be in a relationship (or a family, to take it one step further), and still find the time to write some quality prose on where you were a night or two ago.

With that said, here I am writing up an entry on #SaugaTweetup — originally the morning after on the subway, notebook in hand, scrawling notes out that I hope to assemble into a post sooner than later.

Hosted by Robert Sarjoo and Christian Anderson, #SaugaTweetup found me back in my hometown of Mississauga, Ontario, somewhere I’d long renounced for the siren call of its big brother — Toronto, ON — after serving my 28-year sentence trapped within its borders. (It’s seriously nowhere near as bad as I make it out to be, but I think the general rule applies — if kids live anywhere long enough, you’re invariably going to wind up with some who want nothing more than to escape!)

Tweetups are fun events — go to enough of them and you definitely start to se the same faces over and over again, but it’s okay, because with enough time, some of these faces turn into actual friends, and tweetups turn into the place where you happen to see them more often.

#Saugatweetup, much like Christine’s Crashaversary last year, was this kind of event — catching up with old friends and making new ones! Much of the night was a blur between nibbling on snacks, free swag, prize giveaways and rapid-fire conversation, but I came out of it with a feeling that it was a night where I’d connected well with everyone, making contact with people who could be new faces that I’ll see from time to time!

I look at my calendar and am a bit relieved that this is the last event I have scheduled for a bit; when you have a list of things that you want to work at and you’re out on the town all of the time, there’s a little voice in the back of your head gnawing away at you:

“It’s time to get back to work.”

If you missed the event, feel free to check out some of my photos at my Flickr account (or see the puny versions below)!

 

You can also go see my buddy Justin’s take on the night!

Until the next time,

–case p.

Marben Pig Roast — Goodbye Chef Misha

Despite only really making Twitter part of my life these past 18 months, it’s not as if I had any shortage of events in a year and a half! From celebrations to coffee dates, conferences and cinema — it’s been a wild ride!

But considering all that, there’s a special group of Torontonians on Twitter that I never really broke into — the foodies. (Foodies are way better at writing about food than I am; if you want to see how this event unfolded through the eyes of a foodie, you should check out mi amiga Joie’s post on it!)

I’ve made a ton of foodie friends over time — conversation with them will invariably turn to the new place they tried, new technique/device they used in their cooking, or the new tastes they’ve been acquiring in their lives.

For someone like me who usually sticks to their stomping grounds and doesn’t often cook as to avoid poisoning himself and whoever else might fall prey to his cuisine — this was all completely foreign!

So when I heard through the tweetvine that this guy named Ken was organizing a pig roast Tweetup as a send-off to Marben’s chef, Misha Nesterenko, saying “no” didn’t even remotely sound like an option.

I’ve said that over time as you use Twitter, you come to learn who you could see as part of your life beyond 140 characters and who will forever be “just someone I know from Twitter”. Fortunately, this event was shared with plenty of people from the first category!

My name tag for the Marben Pig Roast
It’s these little added touches that can make an event stand apart. I might use the idea for future events, myself! (Thanks in advance, Ken!)

Upon arrival, Ken presented us with funky name tags and manoeuvred us around the Marben basement masterfully, finding seats for everyone without too much of a problem.

A picture of the lovely spread presented to us at the Marben Pig Roast
Left to right: Fries, Pork, Side Dishes. Everywhere: DELICIOUS.

For a mere $25, we go to gorge ourselves on:

  • delicious kale;
  • cranberry baked beans (thanks to Yvonne for reminding me!)
  • coleslaw seasoned with a Dijon mustard;
  • kim chi and apple salad;
  • fries with sides of ketchup and truffle aioli;
  • and of course — spit-roasted pig with a delicious BBQ sauce!

You’d get this all family style, so in servings meant to feed a group — so when the amazing ladies accompanying me in my group had their fill, I wasn’t left wanting for more — there was more than enough to go around!

Add the fact that Great Lakes Brewery was on tap (har dee har har) for the night to ply us with free and endless samples of several of their beers, and you had a winning combination!

The night was a testament to the good times that can come together on account of social media, and the fact that people who use social media every day of their lives can still keep the social in the equation (which was only further accented by the fact that this event marked my 1000th Foursquare check-in). While I didn’t get a chance to meet Chef Misha and wish him well, I’d like to think that the crowd that came out can be its own testament to the fact that his reputations preceded him, and preceded him well.

Thanks go out to Ken Samuel, Marben and Great Lakes Brewery for putting together such an enjoyable night!

Marben on Urbanspoon

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#OakleyInc40Oaks

If you’ve never met Troy Oakley, you’re missing out on quite the experience. One day, having decided to pack his bags and move to the big, bad city of Toronto, I met him shortly thereafter, at my first tweetup in October 2010.  Since then, I’d easily put him up there as one of the most honest and straightforward people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting as of late.

So when he decided to hold a get-together to celebrate his 40th birthday, how could I not go?

In true Twitter fashion, the party came with strangers, hashtags and plenty of libations — many of these strangers unified by a love for the Toronto Maple Leafs. (In true Troy fashion, he’d arrived to his party after 7 HOURS spent in a tattoo artist’s chair getting a Leafs-related tattoo — the design’s pretty wild, though!)

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#OakleyInc40Oaks, a set on Flickr.

Via Flickr:

The party would be re-dubbed #40Oaks by the end of the night, but people came out by the droves to wish our boy Troy Oakley well wishes in STYLE for his 40th birthday.

All in all, while it was a good night for me, for Troy, I could tell by the look in his eyes that he wouldn’t have celebrated this milestone any other way.

Hope you had a good birthday, buddy. You deserved it!

–case p.

The 2K11 24/7 CCIV: Shake Your Groove Thang!

Today I survived a tweetup the likes of which I’d never experienced before — a dance class.

Organized by the wonderful Christina, CDCTO (named for its location, the City Dance Corps Dance Studio) brought about 15 Tweeples together to strut their stuff in a Beginner Hip Hop dance class. But “Beginner” or not, let’s not forget that dance is serious work! Armed with nothing but the clothes on our backs, the drinks we brought to keep us nimble — and of course, our trusty smartphones — we would go through a two-hour workout that would determine if we had what it took to keep up!

The 2K11 24/7 XCI: How to Juggle Events

You can't be in two places at once. (Unless you're Jamie Madrox — the Multiple Man from Marvel Comics; yes, I'm a part-geek and I love it!) I'm fortunate to live in such a large and diverse city — on any given night, I often can choose one of a few plans of what to do.

Sometimes they're mandatory or obligatory — family, close friends and the wedding always come first — and sometimes it's just figuring out which party I want to show my face at that night.
Even so, though it might be fun, there's a rule or two that must be followed in order to make sure one can juggle events without pissing anybody off.

The 2K11 24/7 LXXXIV: Twestival Toronto 2011

Last night was INSANE. If you’re not a Twitter user in Toronto, you might not know that last night was Twestival Toronto 2011. To sum it up, that’s equal parts:

  • Prize giveaways;
  • Karaoke contest;
  • Intense dance party;
  • Networking session; and
  • Drunken hook-up-a-thon
Last I heard before I left is that the event had managed to raise more than $16,000 for The Remix Project, which is pretty awesome! I managed to keep up the winning streak for the year with a GelaSkins gift card and getting a Twestival Toronto t-shirt for being one of the first 100 in the house (which I subsequently lost on the dance floor), but eventually I had to cut my losses and leave. Twestival Toronto 2011 taught me some important lessons:

The #ReGiftTO Unwrap-Up

If you missed it, Thursday night was ReGiftTO, hosted by @clickflickca and @morningmoe. It was a good party held for the heckuvit and filled with cool tweeples (i.e. people who know each other primarily through Twitter), bangin’ beats and awesome prizes! It was conveniently located at Our House on Ossington JUST south of Dundas. 

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Unfortunately for me and my overconfident self, I thought it was at Ossington and COLLEGE. So, for you non-Torontonians out there, when you get off of a streetcar knowing you have to get to 214 College, but the house in front of you is 493, and you know the house numbers differ by 2 between them (and it’s snowing and cold and you have to walk uphill to school and then uphill again back home while being chased by rabid mountain goats) – you know you have quite the walk ahead of you.