I generally try to not pull the trigger on LivingSocial/Groupon deals. I know there’s a decent chance I’ll forget about them and lose money.
But when friends get in on the deal, I can’t say no.
A few months ago, my friends Lacey, Shannon, Jen and I decided to buy a LivingSocial deal for a mixology class. We all like cocktails, we reasoned, so why not learn a little more about them.
Tonight had to be like the fourth date we’d tried for–it kept getting rescheduled, or we all had to cancel for various reasons.
Shannon and Lacey were already there, with a cocktail in front of them.
And notepaper. Perfect.
The cocktail? A Fruit Roll-Up.
It was nowhere near as fruity as it sounds.
1.5 ounces Stoli Blueberry
1 ounce strawberry puree
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Make it, it’s delicious.
We learned so much about cocktails and mixology. The instructor, Frankie Oley, claimed that the difference between mixologists and bartenders is that mixologists use fancier ingredients, but it seems there’s no actual difference.
Anyway: Frankie’s recommendations of must-have bar tools:
Muddler: to crack ice with (using the top) or to muddle (shocking, I know) things like fruit with
Hawthorn Strainer: If you’ve ever ordered a drink, or sat at a bar for more than a minute, you’ve probably seen one of these. The coil helps strain out liquid but keep the ice cubs.
Julep strainer: They’re pretty similar, but the Julep strainer is usually used to strain from a mixing glass instead of a shaker.
Jigger: used to measure
Peeler: used to peel lemons/limes for garnish
Bar spoon: helps bartenders stir drinks and layer ingredients
He recommended Apotheke: a good cocktail bar he says isn’t a speakeasy/doesn’t have the same sort of password/too-cool-for-school deal as PDT or Raines Law Room (which I went to last week and LOVED). He says he also works at Social and West End.
This next drink was a Tom Collins with raspberries. I’m not a big gin fan, so I wasn’t a fan, but the note of raspberry tasted pretty good.
He also talked about egg whites in cocktails.
Yeah, I was a little grossed-out, too. Supposedly, the booze kills any potential bacteria and the benefits (the foam and it acting as a binding agent) far outweigh the risks, but I still likely won’t use it to make drinks. However, this definitely beat pre-made sour mix.
We also learned about infusions. We learned about cucumber tequila, which sounded lovely, but I”m guessing you want to hear about the bacon-infused bourbon.
For every 750 milliliters of bourbon, he said to cook a few strips of bacon and then pour 1.5-2 ounces of the fat into jiggers. Infuse the vodka for 1.5-2 weeks, shaking twice daily for 20 seconds each, and then freezing it to freeze off the fat, or, fat washing. I couldn’t really taste the bacon, but I’n not a huge bourbon fan.
The last interesting thing I learned was that all cocktails come from 20 classic cocktails, but substitutions make them into different drinks, such as changing a sidecar into a margarita by changing the cognac to tequila, lemon to lime and sugar to salt. The margarita, also, FYI, is the most popular drink in the world. According to this dude.
Afterwards, we went to Cavatappo, where they had an amazing special, and we split a bottle of wine, cheese platter and hummus platter for $15 each. Serious win.
Yeah, yeah, I know most cocktails have a gazillion calories–and to be honest, I usually stick to wine–but what’s your favorite cocktail? And New Yorkers, favorite bar with great cocktails? I would say my favorites are: Pravda and Rye House.