by Eric Doksa
Last Thursday evening Patrón Spirits hosted one of their exclusive Patrón Secret Dining Society events. It was the latest installment of their secret dinners for tequila enthusiasts who are part of the Patrón Social Club.
The Charleston dinner featured Charles Arena, executive chef of The Boathouse, and award-winning mixologist Morgan Hurley of Blu Restaurant at Folly Beach. Throughout the evening, the chef and mixologist educated guests about the range of flavors tequila can deliver while demonstrating the versatility of Patrón through their pairings.
Patrón Social Club members won their spot at the table by answering a riddle via the Social Club’s website. From more than 150 entries, only 20 lucky winners and their guests received a coveted invitation. The majority of the event’s details were kept secret until the day of the dinner.
The initial instructions that I received were to arrive at the College of Charleston Baseball Stadium located at Patriots Point at 6:30 p.m. sharp in cocktail attire. I put on my best spring jacket and tie and made my way over to the point where I was told to send a text message to a specific number for further instructions. When I arrived a saw a group of people that appeared to be dressed for such an event all staring at their phones, eagerly waiting for a response. Texts started pouring in and the group shifted to the Cold War Submarine Memorial where we were greeted by a representative of Patrón and given Patrón bottle tags engraved with the acronym “BHP.” From there we boarded a bus and started heading north on 17. I knew right away where we were heading, Boone Hall Plantation, hence the "BHP" on the tags.
We got off the bus and made our way to an old barn on the water where cocktails were waiting for us on the deck with an amazing view of the marsh.
Reception cocktails included a take on Carolina tea made with Patrón Silver and Carolina Plantation tea and a refreshing Patrón Reposado, watermelon, jalapeño, and basil concoction.
Alongside the drinks, we were served skewers of Carolina Quail glazed in cilantro and Patrón Silver, and succulent jalapeño and Patrón Silver braised pork belly, which was so good I had to tell the server to stop coming back with the tray.
There was a quick introduction from the folks of Patrón, and then we were seated at a long table for dinner where we enjoyed four more courses with pairings.
I particularly liked the Carolina grouper poached in Patrón Reposado and olive oil with braised lobster, fennel, and citrus salad. A vibrant, zesty dish that paired well with a "white negroni."
Three quarters of the way through dinner the ovens went out, causing a slight delay, but I give Chef Arena and his staff two thumbs up for working it out and producing a fine piece of medium-rare beef with a big, solid shrimp cake, mashed potatoes, and chimichurri. It was simply delicious.
I also have to give credit to Hurley for using my favorite fruit — blood orange — in the El Diablo Añejo, made with Patrón Añejo, blackberry liqueur, spicy sweet vermouth, blood orange, sparkling wine, and soda water.
Both Arena and Hurley explained how they used Patrón for each dish and cocktail. They bounced ideas off of each other for weeks until they came up with the menu, which wasn't finalized until the day before the event.
As dinner came to a close guests enjoyed a few extra cocktails until it was time to board bus and head home. During the ride, some guests sang 100 bottles of Patrón on the wall while others talked about what a fabulous night it was — a true one-of-a-kind experience.
The Patrón Social Club membership is free and open to anyone of legal drinking age, simply by registering at www.patronsocialclub.com. For members not selected to attend the event, Patrón offers the chance to win one of three 'Treasure Troves' that include select products along with a "How To" book to help members host their own secret dinners.