To Russia With Love, Okanagan Style

‘To Russia With Love’ fundraiser event at Local Lounge Grille in Summerland

Photos by Voth Photography


One of the hip new dining spots in the Okanagan is Local Lounge Grille, located in Summerland. So when the restaurant partnered with an Olympic athlete or two – like skier Kristi Richards and friends – to raise money for a local organization that helps support amateur athletes… fundraising hit a whole new level of fun.

That’s just what Local owners Cameron Bond and Christa-Lee McWatters-Bond did recently at their ‘To Russia With Love’ event to raise money for the Supporting the Dream Legacy Fund. The Fund is an endowment Kristi started to help hard working amateur Okanagan athletes by providing them with bursaries and grants – allowing the athlete to spend more time training.

“Kristi had just announced that she was going to continue on”, says Christa-Lee, referring to Kristi’s recent decision to continue as a skier after her journey to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. “So, instead of ‘From Russia With Love’, we need to get her to Russia. That’s where the whole Bond thing came in.”

If it’s To Russia, then vodka is a natural choice. Russian Standard Vodka rep Cory Garras helped with that. Cocktails included the delicate Tiger Lily and a refreshing Lychee (recipes below). The martinis were inspired by and created by Bond – Cameron and Christa-Lee are all over cocktail beverage design; bartender Mark and the staff at Local kept pace to ensure no glass was empty.

The hit of the night was the Russian (or Moscow) Mule. Served in a copper mug unique to Local, the Mule is comprised of ginger beer, vodka, ice and not much more. I saw a few ‘souvenir’ mugs clutched by partygoers as they checked out of the Summerland Resort Hotel the next morning; the Bonds had best count inventory.

There were very few leftovers. I know. I looked.

Local’s Executive Chef Paul Cecconi kept us well fed with his take on Russian cuisine. Chef Paul served up Borscht with local beets and Carmelis yoghurt cheese; Savoy Cabbage Rolls stuffed with pork, veal, shortgrain rice and oven roasted tomatoes; and delicious Buckwheat Blinis with honey-thyme cured sockeye salmon, crème fraiche and caper relish. There were very few leftovers. I know. I looked.

“I think the biggest thing I liked about the event was that, for us, it was a good test of the room…and what we can do”, says Cameron. With licensing for 130 seats, the mix-n-mingle event was a bit of a risk for the owners; things could get tight on space if not done right. But the risk paid off; everywhere you looked, people were having a blast.

“The goal was to raise at least $10,000”, Christa-Lee says with a smile. “The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan is set up that…if you make over $10,000, they’ll match it with fifty cents on the dollar to a maximum of $20,000.” (CFSO manages the Supporting the Dream Legacy Fund)

Cameron and Christa-Lee proved to be top-drawer hosts and guests easily parted with their money. At the end of the week, the unofficial count looks good: Christa-Lee estimates that guests raised around $11,000. That’s more than $16,000 after the Community Foundation matched portion.

“It was a great night”, muses Cameron, and you can tell the wheels are spinning. “I’d love to do equinox and solstice parties.” That’s when Christa-Lee pipes up. “We talked about, as a team, to have a staff meeting and say ‘Okay, what do we want to take on as a local cause or charity?’” The bar is set fairly high after the To Russia With Love event, but by the sound of things these two are just getting started.

If you missed the vodka-fuelled festivities, don’t fret. There’s bound to be more on the horizon, and with limited tickets they’re certain to sell out. Keep your ear to the ground for information on more fun events with the Bonds.



Tiger Lily

½ oz Chambord

1 ½ oz Russian Standard Vodka

Shake well over ice, top with pineapple juice



½ oz Triple Sec

1 ½ oz Russian Standard Vodka

Shake well over ice, top with lychee



1 ½ oz vanilla infused vodka

½ oz Kahlua

½ to 1 ½ oz chilled espresso

Shake well over ice, serve with shaved ice or ice chips

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