What could be more intoxicating than the heady combination of oysters and absinthe? For $100 you can enjoy your fill of both this evening at the newly opened Belle Epoque (above the Old Absinthe House, 240 Bourbon St., 858-7400, ruebourbon.com/belleepoque). Belle Époque’s identity is inspired by “la belle époque,” the beautiful era in France, characterized by cultural innovation, optimism, and economic prosperity. The new, chic drinking establishment’s parlors, balconies, courtyard, and bars are full of Absinthe history, and the bar team will be on hand to demonstrate traditional absinthe service alongside freshly shucked Gulf oysters. Offerings for the evening will also include an open bar, charcuterie boards and other snacks and refreshments.  Proceeds will benefit the ongoing construction of the Gumbo Garden at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. Visit southernfood.org/events for tickets.

Do you make your living as a bartender? Bombay Sapphire is seeking contenders for its 2019 Most Imaginative Bartender Competition (MIB).Until June 30, New Orleans’s bartenders can submit their most imaginative cocktail creations for the chance to compete amongst North America’s top mixology talents from the region.

Established as one of the industry’s most prestigious bartending competitions, the MIB program, now in its 13th year, has scoured North America for the greatest undiscovered bartenders. The competition is unveiling a reformatted structure with new non-profit partner Tales of the Cocktail Foundation and new media partner PUNCH. Also new to the program, the Creative Grant Challenge will task the top 12 competitors to bring an original creative idea of any medium to life. Each competitor will receive a cash stipend to research and conceptualize their design before presenting to three judges at the finals in February 2020. The final winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize to execute their idea. To enter visit mostimaginativebartender.punchdrink.com.

The MIB regional semi-finalists will be announced in July. The submissions will be narrowed down to 100 top bartenders from across North America who will compete for a chance to represent their hometown as one of just 12 mixologists from across the continent. The regional finals competitions will take place throughout September before the finalists travel to Laverstoke Mill, for an immersive journey to discover the home of Bombay Sapphire. The finals will then take place in Chicago in February 2020 where North America’s MIB will officially be announced.

I have mentioned before that I strive to celebrate and explore the culinary culture of others through my role as menu planner for the Feed Justice Team (FJT) at First Unitarian Universality Church (2903 Jefferson Ave., corner Jefferson and S. Claiborne, 504-866-9010, firstuuno.org). The cornerstone of the Unitarian philosophy is to welcome anyone seeking community regardless of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof), sexual orientation, political affiliation, or whatever other differences people manufacture to keep us apart from each other. We practice “radical hospitality,” welcoming whomever shows up. As part of this practice, FJT hosts community dinners on the third Tuesday of every month. We strive to make our menus fresh, economical, seasonal, interesting, and relevant. For this month’s dinner (Tuesday June 18 from 6-7:30 p.m.) we are partnering with the Eat Local Challenge. The menu includes garden ratatouille, Daniel Farms meatballs with garden pesto or marinara, cucumber salad, Creole tomato bread, artisan pickles, and a blueberry-based dessert. These dishes will be made with locally sourced products, produce and proteins. Suggested donation is $10- $20 although no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Donations will be used to support the work of the  Feed Justice Team. Our dinners are becoming increasingly popular so RSVPs are appreciated (feedjustice@firstuuno.org).

Located on the ground floor of the atmospheric and charming Pontchartrain Hotel, the Bayou Bar (2031 St. Charles Ave., 323-1456, bayoubarneworleans.com) recently unveiled a new Happy Hour program to be offered Mondays through Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. Creative snacks from Chef/Owner Brian Landry and Executive Chef David Whitmore, all priced at only $5, include sticky rib tips with jalapeño pepper jelly; duck wings – smoked, fried and served with white BBQ sauce; crawfish eggroll with pit house sauce; and wild mushroom grilled cheese with Manchego cheese and truffle. Cocktail specials, also priced at $5, include classics such as the Old Fashioned; Sazerac; Brooklyn; Manhattan; Whiskey Sour; Penicillin; and a specialty cocktail of the day.

The casual tavern-style bar is filled with history and memories including serving as a drinking den for both Sinatra and Capote and being the locale where the New Orleans Saints football franchise was christened in 1966. Guests can stick around after Happy Hour and enjoy a newly expanded live music program, featuring a rotating roster of local artists with no cover charge.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Use it to celebrate the people and the community you love.