A Grown-Up Twist to Mardi Gras Celebrations

Mardi Gras celebrations often are distinguished by wild revelry, beads, parades and all things that celebrate the Creole culture, paying due reverence to New Orleans for the holiday. However, not all celebrations call for out-of-control partying. Fiola, in Washington, D.C., is the exception to the Mardi Gras rule.

The Italian restaurant is celebrating the Venetian Carnevale with a black-tie affair on Feb. 21. The Carnevale is known for its outrageous masks, and guests will be encouraged to wear them for the event. For $85 per person, guests will enjoy live entertainment, as well as a four-course menu offered with a wine pairing. By offering guests an unforgettable meal and drinks that highlight the luxe elegance of the Venetian festival, patrons will be treated to a party similar to Mardi Gras but with an Italian twist.

Bar manager and mixologist Jeff Faile will be making special-themed drinks for the event, all for approximately $11.

To capture the essence of the Venetian Carnevale, Faile is focusing on using Aperol, an Italian apertif, to highlight the “classic Venetian-style drink,” he says.

Although there will be five drinks on the menu, Faile is still working on putting the menu together, though his latest creation, the Alba, is an Aperol cocktail made with blood orange simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped with Prosecco and served in a Champagne flute.

“It’s a darker and richer color, and I actually made it for a customer last night, and he was going crazy over it," he says.


Fiola's bar manager and mixologist Jeff Faile created the Alba cocktail for the restaurant's Venetian Carnevale.

To create a drink menu that honors the Venetian holiday, Faile is taking the cocktail conconcting seriously, working a few weeks before the promotion to come up with infusions and a menu that will be intrigue patrons. “I’m going try to revolve (the cocktails) around Aperol, using differing infusions with Aperol — maybe using grapefruit or a little chocolate and see how that infuses,” he explains.

For Faile, it’s the eye-catching Aperol color that inspires the Veneitan Carnivale theme and makes the Fiola promotion an elegant alternative to other Mardi Gras debauchery.

“It’s a grown-up celebration,” Faile explains. “Again, with the cocktails in mind, they’re not too boozy.  You can have more than one … Something that people can sit there and have a relaxing celebration.”

It’s not just a thoughtful staff that makes Fiola successful. In fact, Fiola is new to the Washington, D.C., scene — opening last April — so creating events and promotions is helping the business establish itself in the bustling Penn Quarter neighborhood.

It’s something we’ve been talking about for a few weeks now,” Faile says in reference to the promotion. “… I’ve been thinking about it for the past few weeks. Once it’s closer, we’ll revisit the promotion, and we’ll start putting things down on paper for a definitive plan.”

“I want it to be light, festive and bubbly,” Faile explains. “I really want (the customers) to enjoy the drinks throughout the night. Enjoy it for the evening.”

Marketing for the event includes cards available to patrons who are interested in the event, as well as postings on the Fiola website and the restaurant’s Twitter account.

Faile is hoping regular clientele will come in and “experienece something a little different and see the restaurant in a different light, especially some of our clients who come in two or three times a week,” he says.

A Mardi Gras celebration doesn’t need to follow the normal structure for it to be unforgettable. With a menu that will keep guests’ palates guessing, as well as interesting cocktails, customers will be excited to have the chance to experience great food and drinks in a different atmosphere.

The Venetian Carnivale theme is, Faile explains, “a nice way to bring something else in. It’s a nice idea for the customer.”

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