A summertime ‘Girls Night Out’


By Bradley Robertson

This warm season has us thinking about swimming pools, cook outs and late nights in the backyard. The summer feels include the freedoms of no set bedtime and sleepy morning coffee on the front porch.
This time of year also excites me to catch up on some much needed time with dear friends.
I’ve been scouring around town for a few weeks to find easy and fun spots for ‘Girls Night Out.’
It’s honestly not too hard to find around here. Our little area is blessed with inside, outside, quick dives and fine dining. We’ve got the fun college atmosphere in Auburn or quiet and low key in downtown Opelika. Don’t we just live in the best slice of the South?
I’m particularly fond of the 8 p.m. sunset. You can meet friends for an evening around 6 p.m. and still be home in time to tuck the kids in bed. Unless, like a good handful of us, you are gracious to hand that job onto someone else for the night.
I’ve got three exceptional ideas for you and your best girls. So call up your ladies this afternoon, and plan an evening out on the town.

1- Hamilton’s on Magnolia, Auburn

Hamilton’s atmosphere is relaxed, mixing Southern flare with fine dining. You can enjoy fun vibes at the bar, great laughs in a round booth or fresh air under twinkle lights on the front patio. This is certainly a local hot-spot and those famous to our area are often spotted here.
I’m usually up for a glass of chilled white wine in the summer, but at Hamilton’s, a fresh cocktail is on the menu. Their selections include ingredients of fresh cucumber, grapefruit juice and lemonade, quenching that summer thirst and adding a little punch.
My punch last week included my darling friend Emily Robinson. We met up in downtown Auburn around 6 p.m. and were quickly seated to a table on the patio of Hamilton’s.
We did not hesitate to scour the drink menu and discuss the tasty concoctions to be brought before us.
We easily chose the Hummingbird Martini and the Cucumber Sizzle.
Emily’s Hummingbird Martini tasted of peach and orange blossom mixed with grapefruit juice and club soda. I was taken away by the Cucumber Sizzle with refreshing flavors of cucumber water, mint, honeysuckle and lemonade. Not only were our drinks delicious, the liveliness and joy of downtown brought ease and laughs into the restaurant.
We each chose an appetizer for dinner, keeping it simple yet tasty. I have been eyeing the seared tuna for weeks and ordering the fried green tomatoes was a no-brainer, as they are a local favorite and Southern summer staple.
I’m always a sucker for sea food, it’s my typical go-to at any restaurant. Hamilton’s Sesame Crusted Tuna is a must for anyone craving a taste of the coast. Tuna was cooked to perfection, accompanied with a side of wild rice and asparagus. Hamilton’s puts their own spin on this dish with a tasty Thai sauce on the side with hints of sesame and wasabi. It was plenty of food for my appetite and I left nothing on my plate except a garnish of ginger.
Emily wisely chose the Fried Green Tomatoes. They are paired with shrimp and the best part of this dish is the creamy balsamic glaze. Crispy tart tomatoes, salty shrimp and buttery cream all in one bite. It is heavenly. It is a popular classic at Hamilton’s and was voted by AL Tourism in 2012 as one of the “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama.”
Our service was excellent and our evening together was lovely. As we tipped our waitress, Emily and I agreed an Auburn sunset on the rooftop of the Collegiate Hotel would cap off our time together.

2 -The Collegiate Hotel and The Bar At Wittel, Auburn

This is an exquisite sight in Auburn and definitely a top spot to spend time with friends.
Wittel was originally a lady’s dormitory for Auburn University. An Auburn family, Kim and Brian Wirth, recently took on the project to preserve its history and create something new and beautiful for our lovely village. The “Coho,” as it is nicknamed, is where “Southern comfort meets Southern style to celebrate history, hospitality and cherished traditions,” as stated on their website. (www.staycoho.com)
With views of Samford Hall from the cozy rooftop of The Collegiate, it is a prime location for that beautiful Auburn sunset and laughs with friends.
The Bar at Wittel is located in the main lobby of the hotel and you will be greeted with smiles and quick service. Their summer drink list is prime and tasty.
Emily loves a good Margarita and chose ‘Aubee’s Margarita’. It was a beautiful shade of lavender and consisted of butterfly tea, tequilla, lime juice and local honey. $1 of every drink sold goes back to ‘AUBees’, Auburn’s honeybee lab.
I chose the Tommer-Tini, filled with flavors of fresh lemon, reisling and honeysuckle vodka with orange and blue sugar atop my glass.
We took the elevator from the main lobby to the rooftop and sat our happy selves on a cozy couch overlooking Samford Hall. The air was fresh and it could not have been more perfect. We chatted and watched the blue and orange hues of the sunset spread across the sky line.
The Collegiate Hotel will be celebrating their first anniversary this July. They have plans for local music on the roof July 4th as well as drink specials. The rooftop bar will make a great backdrop for local fireworks as well.
The Bar at Wittel opens daily at 4 p.m., with rooftop views available all day until 11 p.m.

3- Mama Mocha’s Bodega, Opelika

When I was in college at Auburn, the only place I can recall to get a cup of coffee was in the basement of the library. Today, our area is filled with an assortment of coffee shops from the nationwide Starbucks, to a big handful of small town, locally roasted and well-rounded hang outs.
One of my particular favorites, that is a pioneer in local coffee, is Mama Mocha’s. This locally owned and operated business began in Auburn and set up services here in Opelika just last year.
There is a quiet, savory charm to downtown Opelika in the evening hours, and spending it with a friend and a good cup of coffee is a must this summer.
Whether you prefer a warm latte, my drink of choice, or an iced coffee, grab the gals and meet at Mama Mocha’s around 6:30 p.m. Their menu is fit for anyone, even if coffee isn’t your prime drink for evenings.
They have a beautiful selection of teas and even a few beers for purchase. I recently tried their matcha and it was excellent.
After ordering your drinks, I recommend taking a stroll around downtown. There is a calm and serene feeling in Opelika this time of day that almost takes you back to Mayberry. That old, small town vintage spirit cannot be found just anywhere. Brick cobblestones and train tracks have a way of taking us back in time to simplicity, evoking sweet conversations.
A walk-through courthouse square and around the old train depot are relaxing and scenic. As you watch the sunset behind our tiny town, you will be thankful beyond measure for this day. This easy space to enjoy with friends and a local air that big towns can only dream of.
Our little haven is a gift to all of us. I hope you will embrace time this summer not only to create memories with your family, but to grow the everlasting relationships we have with our friends.
Bradley Robertson is a local mother, wife and creative. She’s an Auburn University graduate, loves good food and getting outside with her family. Robertson enjoys feature writing, as well as Southern culture and lifestyle writing.


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