Tapas and Taps event sells out for fourth month in a row

Chef Gerard Jesse, left, and Darwin Brewing Co. owner Matt Cornelius pose for a photo at the May Tapas and Taps event.
Chef Gerard Jesse, left, and Darwin Brewing Co. owner Matt Cornelius pose for a photo at the May Tapas and Taps event. Provided photo

In May, for the fourth month in a row, the Tapas and Taps event sold out. Eleni Sokos, newly named Darwin Brewing Co.’s marketing manager, is happy to see her pet project taking off.

“It’s my baby and I love it,” Sokos said. She pitched the idea to Darwin owner Matt Cornelius after the Blue Rooster food truck found a home at Darwin Brewing Co., 803 17th Ave. W. in Bradenton. Sokos owns her own marketing agency that specializes in hospitality, Sokos Social, and Darwin was one of her clients.

“We work with so many restaurants and so many restaurants feature our beer,” Sokos said. “How can we give back to them? After talking with Matt we came up with that (Tapas and Taps).”

The event is held on the first Monday of each month at the Darwin taproom from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. About 75 guests assemble for a night full of Darwin beer, course pairings created by local chefs and a local playlist made in coordination with representatives from local music venue Independent Jones.

Darwin tries to carry its brew philosophy through in Tapas and Taps.

“We believe in Beer, Evolved,” reads the event’s Facebook page. “Tapas & Taps is a celebration of local chefs and brewers teaming up to experiment with flavors and push the boundaries of beer pairings. Consider our featured chefs culinary artists, using DBC beers as the canvas for creating a new masterpiece.”

Sokos hopes the effect of Tapas and Taps bleeds into the chef’s daily restaurant business.

“We hope that trickles down to the service level where servers are becoming more educated to sell our beer alongside the dish,” she said. Tapas and Taps also gives local chefs the opportunity to try new dishes on a crowd of “foodies,” or people who love good food.

Chef Rich Knowles from enRich Bistro, 5629 Manatee Ave W., was the first chef to star in the series. He has since returned twice as a customer at the event and appreciates the atmosphere and character of the event.

“Everything from the beer and where it's made, to the food to the music and playlists and everyone who is involved in it is all local,” Knowles said. “It’s not something you would find at a chain restaurant.”

The next Tapas and Taps event is set for June 6 and will feature Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina chef Marcus Vega. Purchase tickets by visiting

Janelle O’Dea: 941-745-7095, @jayohday

Past and future restaurants featured in Tapas and Taps

Chefs at Tapas and Taps sell Darwin Brewing Co. beer at their restaurants and incorporate the brews as ingredients into the event menu

  • February: enRich Bistro
  • March: Swordfish Grill
  • April: The Cottage
  • May: Seafood Shack
  • June: Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina
  • July: Riverhouse Reef and Grill
  • August: Blue Marlin
  • September: O’Brick’s Irish Pub and Martini Bar
  • October: Social Eatery and Bar
  • November: Shakespeare’s English Pub

Source: Eleni Sokos