On Thursdays, we typically bring you a drink recipe.  This week, Stacy visited Houston’s Cork Soakers for an Artful Sips class.  Check it out!

Monday night, I attended a charity art class hosted by Houston’s own Charity Chicks, a group dedicated to raising awareness for various non-profit organizations. Its co-founder Jayme was there to get the party started at Cork Soakers wine bar as groups of women gathered around to paint and drink in the name of charity. To be specific, $10 of every $30 ticket went to the Houston Area Women’s Shelter.

I had never been to Cork Soakers before, so I feel I should mention the beautiful venue – natural wood colors, leather couches straddling tables decorated with corks under a glass top, centerpieces with floating tea lights and corks, and the theme of wine literally woven into every aspect of the decor. Lighting fixtures are wine barrels, bathroom door signs are printed on cork board, and oh yeah – there’s a fully stocked bar with not only wine, but a heavy focus on Texas beers. The owners also run the popular Lucky’s Pub next door, so they know what they’re doing.

Cork Soaker's Private Room

Owner Tharen Simpson shows off past Artful Sips projects

The event featured free wine and light appetizers – a cheese plate from Cork Soakers itself, chips and salsa from Lucky’s, and cake pops from Heather Howard at Baketastic Treats. There was also a representative from Honest Tea there sampling flavors of their healthy, organic beverages which are high in antioxidants. As a sugar obsessed American, I wasn’t a fan. Most are unsweetened or lightly sweetened and I found myself craving more. The cheese plate was good – it featured what I believe to be a White Cheddar, a Gouda with herbs, and a Mobay (a blend of cow/goat/sheep). I’m a cheese girl and I quite enjoyed that White Cheddar.

Honest Tea

As for the art portion of the evening, local artist and HBU professor Maria Valdez, led us in recreating Martina Shapiro’s “Pink Poppies.” Maria also provides all of the paintings that adorn the walls inside Cork Soakers, some of which are for sale. And while she was very nice and obviously talented, I wasn’t that impressed with her instructional abilities. Or at least, her ability to instruct me. She rushed through a lot of the steps and in the end, my painting was hardly a masterpiece. Of course, I could just blame that on the three glasses of wine I consumed and my innate ability to…well, suck. I’m also guessing that this class was designed for advanced painters since not much attention was paid to helping out a stick figure master like myself. Oh well. Plenty of girls in the class were happy with theirs.

Cork Soakers offers these painting classes every Wednesday as part of their “Artful Sips” series. The cost is $35 and all supplies are included. Plus you get a free glass of wine! And if you’re interested in seeking out more fun events like this that are also for a good cause, join the Charity Chick’s e-mail list. They’ll keep you updated on lots of events and how you can help with fundraising and/or volunteering. However, If you’re just interested in a low-key spot to booze it up, keep Cork Soakers in mind. Its elegant atmosphere and close proximity to Minute Maid Park, the theater district, and the Toyota Center, makes it a prime place for pre or post evening fun. And they have complimentary shuttle service as well!

Editor’s Note: Another Tharen Simpson venture…Epicurean Express…located right next door to Coak Soakers…is having its Grand Opening June 10 & 11.  Regular store hours are M-SA (7am-9pm) and Sunday (10am-6pm)