Saturday’s Off to the FARM: Cultivating cocktails and cuisine for a good cause

Caledonia Spirits
Farm-fresh-minded Amber West, in her days at Central 214, will be back behind the bar at Saturday’s benefit event.

It’s been way too long since the vivacious Amber West has loosed her earthy mixology mettle upon the world, but that’s all going to change on Saturday with Off To The FARM, an epicurean event benefitting Project Transformation, an education-oriented agency serving low-income kids throughout North Texas.

There will be goats. And aquaponics. And hors d’oeuvres from chefs like Hibiscus’ Graham Dodds, Garden Café’s Mark Wootten and Adam West of The Porch. And of course, drinks from Amber West, whose talents once shone behind the bar at Central 214 (where Dodds was chef) before she took a job as Texas rep for Vermont-based Caledonia Spirits.

Off to the FARM runs from 2 to 6 pm Saturday at 314 W. Belt Line in Desoto, just outside of Oak Cliff. The farm facility houses both FARM (Farmers Assisting Returning Military) and Eat The Yard.

Project Transformation, a non-profit education organization offering after-school and summer programs to low-income youth, is putting on the event in partnership with FARM. Participating chefs will create their hors d’oeuvres using the farm’s locally grown produce, and it’s a fair bet that Amber’s cocktails will include some of that fresh stuff, too: As bar manager at Central 214, she had a particular knack – and an undeniable passion – for highlighting seasonal fruits of the land in her cocktails. But then Caledonia stole her away, and then she became even busier still, taking time off to have her second daughter, Sage.

“I’ve supported Project Transformation for the last three years,” she says. “Being a mom, my heart just went out to these kids who don’t have anywhere to go after school. This really saves them from being on the streets.”

This drink at Central 214 benefits literacy programs. Get over there immediately and order one.
Some of West’s previous handiwork, this one for a 2013 Derby Day event.

And with part of Project Transformation’s curriculum including cooking and gardening workshops, she was sold.

West’s cocktails will celebrate springtime and complement the event’s Southern-style menu. And of course, they’ll feature Caledonia’s honey-kissed Barr Hill Gin. And probably herbs and honeysuckle too.

All proceeds will benefit Project Transformation. Tickets for the all-inclusive event are $35 in advance or $40 at the door and can be purchased here. More information is available here.

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