I was invited by Jesse Newton, the director of operations and partner at AURA bar & restaurant, to sketch the downtown pour between two and six p.m. Parking was hard to find in the neighborhood around South Eola Drive and Central. I dropped my wife Terry off near the event then wandered up and down the blocks looking for an open space.
The event was surrounded by fencing and each opening had a guard. Since we were trying to get into 101 South Eola Drive rather than the free booze on the street, the guard let us in. In the lobby of the building, the guard was hesitant to let us up to the fifth floor. After a phone call, we finally got into the elevator.
There is a pool, bar and lounge on the fifth floor and twenty somethings relaxed soaking up the sun. There was just one spot which gave a decent view down the street. A potted tree offered partial shade. Terry was arranging to get our press passes and she decided to go down to the street while I sketched.
Each tent offered free beer and liquor from different bars in town. People were given cups on lanyards that could be worn like necklaces. The Broadway across America tent had a Lion King poster. I texted Terry when the sketch was done and went down to the lobby. When she saw me, she shouted, "Downtown pour rocks!" She had been having a good time going from tent to tent.
She introduced me to the folks at the Orlando Weekly tent and she explained that a DVD of the movie "Tinker Taylor, Spy" was being raffled off and she just asked for it and got it. She told me I had to try a blueberry beer and I got in line at the red tent to get my cup and a taste. The beer was sweet and delicious, tasting more like a soda than a beer.
We decided to relax and sat on a curb. A guy dressed all in white said to Terry, "Looks like you found your other half. I saw you walk by before in those hot boots but then I saw your wedding band." The back of his shirt had a black dragon on it and it said, "Master of the grand dragon." Terry was flattered. We couldn't decide if he meant she was hot or just her boots. Either way, the compliment made her feel like a school girl. A little compliment can go a long way.
There was only drinks available for the four hours of the Downtown pour. We decided to get some dinner after I tasted a second blueberry beer. We walked up to a fish and chips restaurant right next to Urban ReThink. As we ate, people began to pour past the restaurant. Some were happy and a few staggered. The restaurant grew loud fast.