Welcome to Friday Night Bites, your weekly round-up of local food and drink news and events. Have a tip for us? Email food@indyweek.com.

NEWS

Stem Ciders Acquires Black Twig Cider House, Rebrands as The Northern Spy

Colorado craft cidery, Stem Ciders, announced this week that it has acquired Durham’s Black Twig Cider House. The restaurant and bottle shop, previously owned by Durham restaurateur Mattie Beason, will be re-branded as The Northern Spy (a nod to a varietal of apples often used in cider) and become Stem Ciders’ third property, alongside its original Denver tap room and Lafayette, CO Acreage cider house and restaurant. The Nothern Spy is slated to open this spring with daily lunch and dinner service, overseen by Acreage’s executive chef, Eric Lee, and nearly half of the space will be dedicated to an extensive to-go bottle program focused on local and regional producers.

Durham Distillery’s Conniption Navy Strength Gin is Named Best in the U.S.

The World Gin Awards, an annual international judging competition, named Durham Distillery’s Conniption Navy Strength gin the best in the U.S. in the taste category and awarded its American Dry Gin a silver medal in the contemporary style gin category. On the heels of its win, Durham Distillery’s Navy Strength gin (which usually hovers around the 57 percent alcohol by volume mark) will now vie for the designation of world’s best Navy Strength gin. The winner of this overall award, as well as the “World’s Best Gin,” will be announced February 21 at the Gin Magazine Awards Dinner in London.

Benchwarmers Bagels, Captain Cookie and the Milkman Are Now Open in Transfer Co. Food Hall

After selling out of bagels during its soft opening last week, Benchwarmers Bagels and Coffee, a collaboration between Josh Bellamy and Sam Kirkpatrick of Boulted Bread, and Andrew Cash of Jubala Coffee, will celebrate its official opening in the Transfer Co. Food Hall this weekend. The wood-fired bagels are made with Boulted’s guiding principles in mind—heirloom grains, fresh-milled flours, extended fermentation—resulting in light-yet-chewy rounds. Word to the wise, go early and be sure to check Instagram for updates on availability. Wash down a za’atar and sea salt or a grits bagel with a cortado or an iced flash brew, or if you’re feeling fancy, a salted butterscotch latte. For more information on opening weekend hours, visit Facebook.

Sate your sweet tooth with freshly baked cookies and ice cream sandwiches at the newly opened Captain Cookie and the Milkman. It’s the third brick-and-mortar location from the nationally acclaimed D.C. outfit and its first North Carolina outpost.

Glasshalfull Donates $34,314 To Local Charities from Dine for a Cause Sales

Downtown Carrboro Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, bar, and wine shop Glasshalfull raised $34,314 in 2018 through its Dine for a Cause initiative. Glasshalfull donates 10 percent of its total sales every Tuesday to UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and every Wednesday to one of five local charities: PORCH, Carrboro Community Health Center, Dispute Settlement Center, and Orange County Literacy Council. Glasshalfull will continue its Dine for a Cause initiative this year to benefit those same six charities. For more information on Dine for a Cause and which charities receive donations from sales each Tuesday and Wednesday, visit its website.

EVENTS

Celebrate The Coco Bean Vegan Market’s Grand Opening

The Coco Bean Vegan Market, the Triangle’s first 100 percent vegan market, is celebrating its grand opening this weekend (the festivities kicked off yesterday and will continue through Saturday). Stop by for samples of locally-made vegan pastries, sip a free cup of Carrboro Coffee Roasters’ coffee, and taste wines and locally-made cider (after 12:00 p.m.) Owners Tamara and Steve Lackey, who also own the adjacent Coco Bean Coffee Shop & Cafe, will be on hand to host tours of the market, which is stocked with pantry items, plant-based dishes such as grain bowls, tamales, and soups, as well as skincare products, books, and gifts made by local artists.

Sip Gabi’s Grounds Coffee, Fund a Dream

Gabi’s Grounds, a Raleigh coffee shop with a mission to help employ people with disabilities, has raised $50,000 to date but still needs to raise another $25,000 to open the doors. In addition to selling its coffee, hoodies, cups, and coffee soap online, Gabi’s Grounds will sell cups, bags of coffee, and K-cups of its custom Larry’s Coffee blend at two events this weekend: the IF Gathering, a two-day women’s conference, at Raleigh’s Crossroads Fellowship Church on Friday, February 8 from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. and Saturday, February 9 from 10:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m., and at the Triangle Down Syndrome Mardi Gras at the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley on Saturday, February 9, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Settle the Beer-Wine Debate at The Boot’s Grain Vs Grape Pairing Dinner

On Wednesday, February, The Boot’s executive chef Rob Kinneen will host Starpoint Brewery’s lead brewer, Nikko Carlson, and Durham-based Certified Specialist of Wine, Sergio Ramos, for a beer versus wine pairing dinner. Dinner at the Durham Italian-American restaurant includes four courses—think pan-seared grouper cheeks, black pepper gnocchi, and roasted lamb—with beer and wine pairings and costs $55 per person. Make your reservation by calling the restaurant at 919-294-8383 or via Facebook.

Drink for a Cause at Fox Liquor Bar, Plus Get a Sneak Peek of Coronato’s Pizza

On Monday, February 18 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., four of Fox Liquor Bar’s bartenders will create a featured cocktail and compete in the People’s Cocktail to raise money for their chosen charity. Every drink you order equals a vote for that bartender’s charity. Fresh off his latest Rome research trip, guest chef Teddy Diggs will also preview dishes from his forthcoming pizzeria, Coronato, with cracker thin Roman-style pizzas, fava falafel, and rosemary and sea salt focaccia. All proceeds from cocktail and food sales will benefit the winning charity. Tickets are not required but RSVPs via the Facebook event page are encouraged.

BITE OF THE WEEK

Winter is a notoriously long season for many chefs across the country. There’s only so many things they can do with citrus before they start pining for the arrival of ramps and morels. But chef Gray Brooks makes a case for citrus appreciation with Pizzeria Toro‘s Meyer lemon pizza. After the crust is amply charred and bubbled, it’s pulled from the oven and scattered with paper-thin slices of Meyer lemon, which lends a sweet-citrusy tang that cuts through the white pie’s milky Crescenza cheese and plays off the brininess of Saracena olives. Happily, Meyer lemon season lasts until at least late March, but if this is winter, sign me up.