WILMINGTON — The City of Wilmington’s downtown bar scene has a lot to offer, from self-proclaimed dive bars to upscale lounges, and that’s what Joe Apkarian, co-founder of Party Wilmington wants residents and visitors alike to experience during Party Wilmington’s bar crawls.
Party Wilmington first started when Apkarian and his business partners put on the Wilmington Highland Games — a Scottish-themed athletics event that they ran for two years before selling it.
After planning several other events, including the Bartenders Ball and the Beer Mile, the group decided it was time to start organizing bar crawls for its patrons. Bar crawls were nothing new to Apkarian, who was running some crawls as the owner of Pour House, but he later decided to organize the events through Party Wilmington
“I was putting on bar crawls as the owner of Pour House just because all of our cliental and friends and regulars love a good dress up and love a good bar crawl. I was doing that just for fun,” he said.
Because the bars in the downtown community have a good relationship with each other, Apakarin said, being able to help fill up a friend’s bar on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon was helpful to everyone.
“At one point I said, ‘I might as well start doing the bar crawls through Party Wilmington.’ We started off doing the Margarita bar crawls and the Bloody Mary bar crawls,” Apkarian said.
So what is a bar crawl?
Essentially, Party Wilmington’s bar crawls focus on a theme, be it all margaritas or the “Cupid is Stupid” Bar Crawl that’s coming up in February.
The events are held typically on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, when the bars are usually less crowded (this way bars are not already full from regular traffic, as they might be on a Friday night).
Participants show up to check in with Apakarin at Pour House, where they are given a list of destinations for the day, along with a sheet of paper with the different requirements at each location.
For drink-specific crawls, people get to try each bar’s take on the specific drink, and then vote for their favorites. Once the event is complete, and all the drinks are tasted, participants return to Pour House and votes are tallied. Other times, there are scavenger hunt bar crawls where participants have to document their accomplishments on camera.
There is no minimum amount of time that must be spent in each bar, Apkarian said, it’s more of a relaxed way to get out and try different bars in the area, establishments that the regulars of other bars might not otherwise try.
While most of the events cost a nominal fee to participate in, it does not cover the cost of drinks at each location. However, Apkarian said people generally get through a bar crawl spending the same amount of money or less than if they went out on a weekend night.
The participating bars offer smaller pours – at a reduced cost – on their drink of the night, typically around $3, according to Apkarian .
There are two upcoming bar crawls for January and Feburary — the Winter Warm Up Bar Crawl, and the Cupid is Stupid Bar Crawl.
Winter Warm Up Bar Crawl
The Winter Warm Up is a bar crawl that allows local bars to show off their best “cold weather” drink specialties, from hot toddies to spiked hot chocolate. The event kicks off at Pour House Jan. 28 at 2 p.m.
The cost of the event is $5 and participants will be directed to 10 different bars in downtown.
The bars include:
- The Husk Downtown Wilmington
- Anne Bonny’s Bar & Grill
- Barbary Coast
- Proof Bar & Lounge
- Hell’s Kitchen
- Duck and Dive
- The Liquid Room
- Tavern Law 1832
- Pour House-Wilmington
- Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Wilmington NC
Third annual “Cupid is Stupid” Bar Crawl
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and while chocolates, dinner, and flowers are a classic, for those searching for a different experience, Party Wilmington is hosting its third annual “Cupid is Stupid” Bar Crawl.
The event is a scavenger hunt bar crawl, complete with prizes for the winners. The event starts at 2 p.m. on Feb. 10 and runs until 6 p.m.
Teams of no more than six people can sign up for $20. They will then be set loose to find hidden photos of celebrity couples throughout the participating bars. The participating bars have not yet been listed, but the event can be found online.
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