We hear your collective sigh. Thank you Hallmark – oh the pressure.
Today I’m switching up our weekend happenings post for some handpicked date ideas to get you in the mood. And to save you. Because let’s face it, who ever plans ahead?
The good folks over at Winston-Salem Monthly even let me write a story on this very subject. You can check out the latest issue on stands around town.
But for now, here’s a rundown of local creative date ideas sure to make this Valentine’s Day more fulfilling. Plus you’ll be supporting your neighbors. Always an added plus.
BEND ‘N BREW YOGA AT FOOTHILLS TASTING ROOM
Yoga is proven to boost your health, improve your mood, and increase your libido—all benefits for relationships. Throw in spandex, couple’s poses, deep breathing, and a post-worout beer, and you have a one-of-a-kind experience.
This is what you’ll find each Saturday morning at Foothills Tasting Room at 3800 Kimwell Drive. Deanna Dzybon of RockWater Yoga leads the all-levels “Bend ‘n’ Brew” class amidst repurposed barrels, rows of kegs, and industrial-sized fermenters. The potpourri of hops and sweet malt fills the air.
For $5, participants can enjoy an hourlong yoga class followed by a pint of one of the 28 brews on tap. The tap list features Foothills’ core brands, experimental brews, and seasonal selections, such as the Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout, Foothills’ ever-popular Valentine’s brew. As Dyzbon puts it, you can “buy a craft beer and get a free yoga class, or buy a yoga class for $5 and get a free beer. Either way it’s a steal!”
Dyzbon begins and ends each class with breathing techniques that teach participants to connect their movements with their breath. The energetic and playful practice incorporates a variety of postures, also known as asanas. Classes typically include two dozen students of varying skill levels, from first-time yogis to intermediate. She offers pose modifications throughout class to accommodate each student. On Feb. 13, Dyzbon plans to incorporate a few couple’s poses into the class to encourage pairs to connect.
After class, couples can pony up to the bar to share pints and stay for a free tour of Foothills’ brewing operation. Tours start at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and are first-come, first served.
What makes Bend ‘n’ Brew a great date? “Sharing time on one’s mat is a great way to connect on a different level. Yoga brings people back to the present moment, which is then transferred into one’s everyday life. Being present and mindful builds stronger, more intimate relationships of all kinds.”
Tour & Tasting at Sutler’s
When you book a tour and tasting at Sutler’s Spirit Co., you are supporting history in the making. The spirit company, recently highlighted by USA Today, opened last year in the West End Mill Works complex as the first legal distillery in Winston-Salem in over 200 years.
Owner Scot Sanborn says that since opening the tasting room last April, roughly 90 percent of the tours booked have been made by couples. “Most people have never been to a distillery,” he notes, “so I try to explain things in layman’s terms to keep it simple for everyone.”
When you enter the tasting room, you are met with dim lighting, flickering candles, soft music, and oftentimes Sanborn’s dog, Moose. Since Sutler’s cannot legally sell drinks on-site due to state regulations, guests are invited to grab a drink next door at Hoots Roller Bar to enjoy during the hourlong tour.
Once on tour, Sanborn walks guests through the history of spirit-making and the distillery, explaining the distilling and fermentation processes involved in making gin and rum (the two products Sutler’s sells). He laces the conversation with interesting “bar bits” you can impress your friends with later. (For instance, did you know “Gin is essentially vodka flavored with botanicals, primarily juniper berries” and that “Age is not necessarily an indicator of quality” when it comes to rum?) Each tour concludes with everyone’s favorite part—a tasting of the final product. Bottles of gin are also available for sale.
Tours are typically held on Friday and Saturday nights and cost $10 per person. A complimentary rocks glass and gin tasting are included, and online bookings are required. Sanborn adds that many couples make a night out of their visit to West End Mill Works when they come for a tour, grabbing drinks at Hoots next door or having dinner at The Porch.
What makes a Tour & Tasting at Sutler’s a great date? “Overall, it’s an entertaining, educational experience to share. We limit tours to 16 people to keep it more intimate, and we also offer private bookings for an additional fee, if couples prefer.”
Sutler’s is at 840 Mill Works St. To book a tour, visit sutlersspiritco.com.
Tasting Menu at The Honey Pot
You and your date are seated at a cozy table for two. Glasses are filled, the chef’s menu is discussed, and carefully selected wine pairings are announced. Soon after, beautiful courses arrive in a sequence that chef Matt Pleasants prepares, one after the other.
This is the scene over at The Honey Pot restaurant at 285 W. Fourth St. on any given night. But this Valentine’s Day, the entire restaurant will be abuzz as guests enjoy a set menu that’s been thoughtfully prepared.
Similar to previous tasting menus at the restaurant, guests will enjoy five courses: an appetizer, salad, fish, meat, and dessert. The cost is $85 per person, plus an additional $30 for complimentary wine pairings. According to Beau Tate, Honey Pot’s general manager, “We try to plan the meal so that there’s just enough of every course that you get to spend some time with it. But we also try to be mindful that folks are usually doing something else later that night, so they don’t want to leave unpleasantly full.”
Tate says his team enjoys orchestrating the special occasion menus because it gives them a chance to creatively highlight local products while also indulging in a few specialty products that they’ve procured.
“There is also the wine component,” he says. “We have two certified sommeliers on staff and spend a lot of time planning out the pairings to be amazing.” He adds that they’re happy to draw up pairings from scratch depending on guests’ preferences.
Why is The Honey Pot an ideal date spot? “Chef Matt Pleasants and I have both spent time on Michelin-starred properties and wanted to come back to Winston and offer that level of experience in a way that makes sense here. As an extension of that, we try to offer the same level of creativity and execution that you’d get at some of the top restaurants in the country, but for a fraction of the price.”
To view the menu or book a reservation, visit honeypot-wsnc.com.
Glassblowing Workshop at The Olio
Perched atop metal stools forming a semicircle, participants face blazing furnaces as they watch seasoned glassblowers walk them through the entire process of blowing glass, transforming molten orbs into a final design. Jokes are made as tools of the trade, like “glory holes” are explained; the room grows warmer as cheeks get rosier while they work. It is a casual, interactive atmosphere.
The Olio, defined as a “miscellaneous collection of things,” is a nonprofit glassblowing school and creative entrepreneurship center that offers programs for all ages and interest levels. For couples new to glassblowing, founder and Executive Director Rebeccah Byer recommends a Starter Workshop. These two-hour courses cost $65 per person and will cover furnace glassblowing and the history of glass. Afterwards, students have the chance to make a glass paperweight or sculpture. Those who have already taken a workshop can advance to a blown vessel. All workshop proceeds benefit the organization’s youth apprenticeship program.
Byer says another excellent date night activity kicks off Jan. 29 when The Olio debuts its new Hot Salon series. Described as a “sort of nerdy artsy alternative to the bar scene,” the Hot Salon series is a fun way to learn about a different country through glass, art, food, and history. Participants can bring food and drink inspired by the highlighted country to share. The February course focuses on Mexico.
What makes a glassblowing workshop a great date? “It’s fun and unique and definitely a bonding experience. Glassblowing is therapeutic for a lot of reasons. You have to check your ego at the door because you never achieve perfection.”
The Olio is at 918 Bridge St. Learn more about its workshops and other programs by calling 336-817-2846 or visiting theolio.org.
Floral Design Workshop at Winston-Salem Flower School
Sure, you can call up your local florist to order your beloved a bright bouquet for Valentine’s Day. But if you’re looking to really impress the flower-lover in your life, the ladies over at Winston-Salem Flower School have a better gift idea.
On Feb. 18, the studio will host a “Bring Your Own Container” floral design workshop. “It’s a great two-part gift for Valentine’s Day,” says Flower School operations manager Brooke Farmer. “You can gift a unique vase to that special someone or friend on Valentine’s Day, and then you can come to our class a few days later to design an arrangement together in it.”
Workshops are held in West End at the studio of nationally renowned floral designer Amy Dunlap of Amy Lynne Originals. Full of organic textures, gorgeous blooms, long wooden worktables, and bright natural light, Dunlap’s studio is an ideal space to create.
All experience levels are welcome at the classes, which cost $95 per person. Couples that plan to create a single arrangement receive a ‘two for the price of one’ discount. Workshops begin with a demonstration by Dunlap, followed by hands-on floral design work with professional pointers as needed. Students can also bring wine to enjoy during the two-hour session at the Flower School, which Dunlap opened in 2014.
“We want all of our students to have full creative control over their design and make something that’s truly unique and reflective of their style,” she shares.
What makes a flower design workshop a great date? “It gives couples an opportunity to create something special together in a relaxed, romantic environment. The workshops are also a fun experience for girlfriends to enjoy together.”
Winston-Salem Flower School is at 418 West End Blvd. For more info or to book a workshop, visit wsflowerschool.com.
Prefer to plan an intimate night in? Looking for just the right wine?
I also chatted with a few local wine-shop owners and here is what they recommend.