If you find yourself lost in a romantic desert this February 14th, with no Valentine to give chocolates to or receive chocolates from, don’t despair.
There’s good news for chocoholics – single or coupled – if you can wait just two more days. Circle your calendar for February 16th when Frankfort will host its inaugural Chocolate Stroll from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Downtown shops, museums, bars, and restaurants are taking part in the chocolate fest, offering their individual twists on everyone’s favorite confection.
Suzy Hosley, executive director for Downtown Frankfort, who has only been in her position since July of last year, gets credit for coming up with the idea.
“My goal is to create events that will connect people with the vibrancy that defines downtown Frankfort,” she says, “and at the same time to support our businesses through partnerships, networking platforms and signature events.”
Downtown merchants agreed, as more than 20 businesses and non-profit organizations responded to Hosley’s call for participants. The first to sign up as a sponsor was Frankfort-based Rebecca Ruth Candy, arguably Kentucky’s most iconic chocolate purveyor.
In addition to extending their hours to remain open throughout the event, Rebecca Ruth will supply participating merchants with two candies of their choice to offer strollers (purchases not required but welcomed.)
To date, six merchants – the Drip-Drop Boutique, Broadway Clay, Completely Kentucky, Poor Richard’s Books, Why Not Bargains & Gifts and Glitterati Treasures have signed up.
As an example of what you can expect, Glitterati will not only hand out candy, but for every $40 purchase, they will also give away chocolate bombs while they last.
In case you’re wondering what a chocolate bomb is, it’s a truffle that when dropped into hot milk, makes a delicious hot chocolate.
But Rebecca Ruth didn’t stop with giving away candy. In addition to the chocolates for merchants, the company will also hold a contest for chocolate-themed drinks, entrees and desserts made with Rebecca Ruth products provided to them in a chocolate kit.
Vying for best of show will be such restaurants as Kentucky Coffee Tree Café, Serafini, Main Street Diner, Goodwood Brewing, Engine House Coffee, and Mi Fiesta.
While most are keeping their entries close to the vest, a few have shared what they will be serving.
At Engine House Coffee, housed in a former fire station, strollers can stop in for a chocolate covered strawberry latte, made with Rebecca Ruth cocoa powder, and dusted with dark chocolate shavings.
Two other options at Engine House will be the Raspberry Rendezvous (house-made white chocolate raspberry latte topped with Rebecca Ruth milk, whipped cream and chocolate shavings) and a Red Velvet Cupcake (house-made velvet cupcake macchiato topped with Rebecca Ruth chocolate syrup drizzle.)
Kentucky Coffee Tree will be offering a Rebecca Ruth chocolate espresso martini and a bourbon ball hot chocolate.
Mi Fiesta Restaurant is going full-bore with a chocolate plate featuring Mole Poblano (authentic mole sauce) made by toasting and blending both sweet and earthy ingredients and spices such as dried chiles, peanuts, sesame seeds, cinnamon, anise, and what else, chocolate.
It will be served as a main course over chicken with a side of rice and corn tortillas. But if that doesn’t satisfy your craving for chocolate, the restaurant will also offer a Mexican Chocoflan, a dense, rich chocolate cake stacked with creamy vanilla flan, dripping with a delicate layer of caramel sauce.
Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Frankfort bars and breweries will also make chocolate the centerpiece in their beverages. Among those rising to the challenge are Stainless Brewing, Sig Lusher, Mortimer Bibb’s Public House, Howser Tavern, Cap City Cigar Bar, House of Commons, Cooperage Bar and POURter’s.
If you want an idea of what you can expect from the mixologists, POURter’s will pair cinnamon sugar pretzels drizzled with chocolate with a chocolate covered strawberry martini.
“Think of it as strawberry daiquiri meets chocolate martini,” says Hosley.
The Cooperage Bar will be serving the “PBE Delight,” a heady peanut butter espresso concoction made with Rebecca Ruth chocolate syrup, Screwball Peanut Butter whiskey, XXI espresso liqueur and a dollop of cold brew coffee.
One of Frankfort’s newest drinking establishments, Howser Tavern, will feature “(Coco)nuts about Love,” a heady concoction of coconut rum and white strawberry cream, garnished with strawberry and chocolate.
But before the eating and drinking starts, the Stroll will kick off at the Capital City Museum, where one of the exhibits is an old Rebecca Ruth candy making machine. Dating from 1890, the machine is a featured item in the museum’s Smithsonian exhibit.
Third generation candy maker and president/owner of Rebecca Ruth, Charles Booe, and his daughter Sarah, the company’s general manager, will be at the museum handing out chocolates and butter rum hard candies.
Both father and daughter expressed delight that Frankfort is honoring chocolate with a special night.
“The Chocolate Stroll is a natural extension for Rebecca Ruth Candy Tours & Museum,” says Charles.
Sarah concurs. “I thought it was an idea that made sense – taking part in developing a new community event that centers on the thing we do best.”
Perhaps the award for most creative use of chocolate goes to the staff at Liberty Hall Historic Site where executive director Jessica Stavros says, “this provides us with an opportunity to share Kentucky history in a fun and delicious way.”
Using original Brown family recipes from the early 1800s, the Liberty Hall staff will serve hot chocolate the same way it was made more than 200 years ago.
Visitors will also have a chance to see a unique exhibit showing various ways chocolate was acquired and prepared on the Kentucky frontier.
So, don’t be sad if February 14th seems like any other day this year. You have February 16th and the Frankfort Chocolate Stroll to look forward to.