Mixing Things Up

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.

But tonight, three out of four of us were able to make it, and so eastward we went to Van Diemens to take a class from Frank Oley, who’s won lots of cocktail awards. Um, yay Murray Hill?

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.

Fruit Roll-Up:

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.


Oh heyy.


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.

22 comments on “Mixing Things Up

  1. Alex

    I love anything that tastes fresh and citrusy. I used to be on a serious Mojito kick for a while, right now I’m all about the Whiskey Sours. As far as cocktail bars go, I really like the Silver Lining but honestly most of my friends are casual bar people so I stick with a beer or glass of red wine at those places where cocktails come from mixes.

  2. EmDub

    Any good cocktail makes my list! My usual go to drink is a Jack and Coke, but then again, I love anything Whiskey/Bourbon-ish. Bacon infused bourbon? Sounds like it is worth trying if someone else makes it! I made habanero infused tequila about a month ago (much easier process. 2-4 days of peppers in a jar with tequila) and am hoping to combine it with some fresh watermelon to make some spicy, yet refreshing margaritas! 🙂

  3. Cathryn @ myheartscontent

    Oooh I love this post!!I l love cocktails. My favourites are whisky sours (with egg white) when I’m feeling sultry and mojitos when I’m feeling summery.

    My latest fave though is incredible, I found it on A Cup of Jo, but can’t post the link for some reason, so all credit goes to Joanna Goddard. It’s on her site, from March.

    Mix: A cup of simple syrup infused with rosemary, a cup of gin, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and a bottle of prosecco/sparkles etc. Et voila.

    To make the syrup, boil a cup of sugar and a cup of water and some sprigs of fresh rosemary until the sugar has disappeared.


  4. Megan@ The Running Doc

    I’m always ordering from groupon or living social, it’s so bad. I especially love the groupon goods, I can never turn down new towels, headphones, or a duvet, ha!

    I’m not much of a cocktail drinker, I prefer beer. But if I have to get one I like them light and fruity, no bourbon or whiskey for me.

  5. Dori

    That is REALLY cool. I want to take that class now! I love fancy cocktails and generally only go to places that have a fun cocktail list. I’ve actually been to Apotheke but it was a little too intense — the bartenders wear labcoats and the drinks are $15. The best mixed drink I’ve had was actually an award winning Lychee martini at the Westin in Jersey City next to my office!

  6. Lydia @ Inhabit the Beauty

    When I went to LA, last month, I had a Gordon’s Cup for the first time. It was the best cocktail I’ve ever had. Ever.

    I’m not a big Gin lover, either, but it was perfect. Gin, cucumber, lime juice, simple syrup, sea salt, heaven.

  7. Meghan @MeggerFiles

    Great post! I have never been a huge fan of gin until I tried an Elderflower Collins, consisting of Gin, St. Germain, Lemon Juice and Soda – it’s a real winner!

    As for bars in NY, right now I am loving Employees Only, (on Hudson in the West Village) which has really creative and delicious drinks, and the W Downtown has the living room bar on their 5th floor with a really nice terrace. I highly recommend checking them out!

  8. fionarwbl

    I used to go to Apotheke a lot, but in the last year it’s become way busy, and reserving a table is like $700!! The drinks are awesome though. My all time favorite drink is the cucumber chilli margartita at La Esquina, which I’ve drunk, well, far too many of… Ryehouse was my old neighborhood bar – I love it! I’m also a big fan of Highlands, but my hands down favorite place to drink is Death and Co. There’s usually a wait but you can give your number to the doorman and go drink wine at the Bar Veloce a couple of blocks up.

    Ok, it seems I drink a lot.

      1. Dori

        @Theodora: Fiona, if you’re still working in JC we should get that award winning martini at the Westin. I have no issues with a liquid lunch. Theodora, it’s worth coming in for!

  9. Anne

    Fun fact: If you stop by PDT without a reservation and you’re just a party of two, they’ll usually seat you at the bar. (Which is way better for watching the mixologists at work!)

  10. Jenni

    I mostly stick to wine too – I can’t have gluten and surprisingly it can be found in a lot of mixers, particularly sour mix and frozen drink mixes. So I like to stick to homemade! My friend makes a great skinny margarita – silver tequila, Grand Marnier, lots of fresh lime juice and her secret ingredient – Fresca! I love the little bit of fizz it adds, and you get great citrus flavor without the calories of sour mix.

  11. Martha Lilian

    That sounds like a great class. As someone who limits her drink mixing to vodka + mixer or wine + club soda, this is definitely something that I could benefit from. I’ll have to check out similar stuff and hop back on that LivingSocial/Groupon bandwagon.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.