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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Behold the final entries for this year’s Capital Cocktail Classic

As promised, I have a sneak peek at the final two entries in this year’s Capital Cocktail Classic, a tapas-and-drink pairing pub crawl that returns to four downtown Charleston restaurants from 4-7 p.m. on Saturday. Oct. 7.

Dragon's Breath cocktail and shredded brisket sliders from Black Sheep
Dragon's Breath cocktail and shredded brisket sliders from Black Sheep

We already previewed Bar 101 and Ichiban teaming up with an Appalachian Sour cocktail featuring Old Forrester bourbon, house-made fuji apple-ginger puree, sour mix, lemon juice and a cinnamon apple garnish paired with a crispy pork eggroll with roasted tomato curry sauce.

And we took a taste of DT Prime’s Blackberry Sangria with moonshine-marinated blackberries blended with red sangria and fruit. That drink will accompany of duo plate featuring a portabella mushroom wellington with fig glaze, alongside a separate New York Strip shaved beef roll stuffed with cream cheese and jalapenos with a blackberry balsamic reduction.

Now let’s tease the other two pairings!

Sam’s Uptown Café will serve up a tasty tropical Jungle Bird cocktail made with exclusive Venezuelan-made Diplomatico dark rum, Campari, lime juice, pineapple juice and simple syrup with a lime garnish. The drink is fresh, fruity and sweet, but without being heavy and syrupy.

Meatball trio from Sam's Uptown Cafe
Meatball trio from Sam's Uptown Cafe

“This is one you definitely want to enjoy under a palm tree somewhere,” owner Paul “PG” Greco told me.

It’s being paired with a very creative “Land, Sea & Air” meatball trio – one made with his same signature crabcake filling, one with duck sausage and one with wild boar – all swimming in a rich heirloom tomato romesco sauce with caramelized onions and aged cheddar.

All of the meatballs are good (the duck sausage with its foie gras, garlic and spiced cherry, and the wild boar with hints of cilantro) but it was the crab one that rocked my world. Crispy on the outside with a creamy crab filling throwing off just a hint of heat, it made me realize I’m way overdue to come back for those awesome Sam’s crabcakes.

The pairing also is nice, with the drink’s bright fruit and sharp rum notes cutting through the dish’s rich and creamy sauce.

Two blocks over, Black Sheep Burrito and Brews will offer up apricot-braised shredded brisket sliders with sweet jalapeno slaw and chili-honey drizzle on a toasted Hawaiian roll. Those will be paired with an electric pink Dragon’s Breath cocktail featuring Tito’s vodka, cucumber vodka, jalapeno simple syrup, dragon fruit and soda water with a tajin, jalapeno and cucumber garnish.

Jungle Bird cocktail from Sam's
Jungle Bird cocktail from Sam's

Both of Black Sheep’s items were good on their own, and also paired well together, since they both featured heat and sweet notes that balanced each other out. Seriously, anytime you got hit with a spicy note, there was a cooling sweet one to follow, and vice versa. The flavors really kept building and balancing with each bite and sip. Nicely done!

As a reminder, early-bird tickets for this year’s Capital Cocktail Classic purchased now through this Friday are $50 per person, with the regular price of $60 kicking in from Saturday through the day of the event. Tickets may be purchased at, but please note you must be 21 years of age or older to attend and valid ID will be required when you check in that night.

The upscale pub crawl is a fundraiser for Fund for the Arts, which provides funding and support for 11 small member arts organizations across the greater Kanawha Valley.

The Pitch abruptly closes in Kanawha City

In a sudden post on its Facebook page Sunday, The Pitch of KC announced it had closed its doors effectively immediately that day.

After starting out with the words “It's hard to say goodbye …” the post went on to say that many memories and friends have been made over the past two years and that the restaurant appreciated all the support it received.

Dragon's Breath cocktail from Black Sheep
Dragon's Breath cocktail from Black Sheep

However, it added: “We are unfortunately announcing the closure of The Pitch of KC on Sunday, September 24, 2023. Thank you to everyone for your loyalty, patronage and care. If you find your taste buds tingling for those delicious Pitch flavors, you can still stop in at The Pitch WV (at the Shawnee Athletic Complex in Dunbar) and satisfy your cravings!”

The plot thickens, however.

Even though The Pitch of KC was an independently owned and operated licensed franchise of the original restaurant, The Pitch WV clarified in a statement released to the media that they “were not included, consulted or even informed of this decision” in advance.

“The decision to suddenly close without notice to their employees, the community that has supported them or to us as the franchisor is disappointing and not in keeping with our standards or values,” Chef Paul Smith, an owner of The Pitch WV, said in the statement, which was also posted on The Pitch WV's Facebook page.

“This has placed an undue burden on the employees and we would like to extend whatever help we can in connecting these displaced employees throughout our family restaurants and partnerships in the hospitality community here in the region.”

They also confirmed the original location in Dunbar will continue to operate business as usual.

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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at

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