Night Out: Cocktails at the Conservatory

Jesse Tigges, Columbus Alive

The Franklin Park Conservatory probably isn't the first place you think of when you're looking to get a drink, but every Thursday the spectacular botanical gardens hosts the Cocktails at the Conservatory event - an often overlooked way to spend an evening imbibing.

The current exhibit on display at the conservatory is the flourishing orchid forest "Orchids! Vibrant Victoriana," which is paired with Debora Moore's "Collectanea Botanica-Orchidaceae," a collection of blown-glassflowers. Plus, there'salways a number of Dale Chihuly's colorful glass masterpieces scattered throughout the conservatory.

For the regular cost of admission ($11), attendees have access to the entire conservatory and also get $10 worth of food and drink tokens. Yes, you read that correctly - free drinks!

Head over to the tropical Palm House - with a bar and food station, tables and live music, it serves as the hub of Cocktails at the Conservatory - to redeem your tokens. The full bar offers a number of respectable liquors and cocktails ($6), a decent selection of red and white wines ($6), and some bottled beers ($5). Each week also features a specialty cocktail.

The small plates ($6) present some light nosh options. I recommend the cheese and crackers plate. It's filled with Swiss, pepper jack, cheddar and deli meat to pile atop a variety of crackers. There are also veggie and hummus plate options, as well as some sweets ($3): cookies, brownies and fudge.

Coming up is a special Valentine's Day event similar to Cocktails at the Conservatory. Throughout the building, stations will serve wine and chocolate pairings. The cost of admission includes three pairings.More can be purchased if you're so inclined.

The full bar also will be available for the event, and the conservatory's Garden Cafe will be open extended hours.

No registration is required for Valentine's Day, which could save those procrastinating fellas from resorting to overpriced, perfunctory bouquets of roses for their sweethearts.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

1777 E. Broad St., Near East Side


Cocktails at the Conservatory

5:30-10 p.m. every Thursday

Valentine's Day at the Conservatory

5:30-10 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14