It’s not easy giving up your Saturday afternoon, but the prospect of learning about and consuming cocktails while doing so made the decision much easier.
In the back room of Westport’s Julep, master mixologist Darrell Loo hosted a cocktail class for more than 20 eager participants.
“We used to just do individual classes. You know, when customers would say they wanted to learn more about cocktails. But starting this year, we’re offering group classes. One around Valentine’s Day sold out quickly, so we realized we were onto something,” Loo said.
It’s a great concept. The class was broken into teams of two and then shown how to make four cocktails. I had to leave a little early to go home and cook a tri-tip for a dinner party, but I did get the chance to taste the Chatham Artillery Punch — a great concoction for a party, as it frees you up to do other things — and the Ramos Gin Fizz, which required real teamwork as the drink had to be shaken for 12 minutes total.
“We want to show people that drinking is fun, and that cocktails are easy to make,” Loo said.
Everything but the Ramos Gin Fizz, that is.
Loo said he wants to give people the basics of cocktail creations so they can put together tasty drinks at home. How far they take it from there is up to them.
Contrary to seeing home mixologists as a threat to business, Loo said his class will create repeat customers.
“It’s all about making cocktails more accessible. I’m not worried about losing business to people who learn to make better cocktails at home because the more they learn, the more they’ll want to learn. And that will bring them right back to us,” Loo said.
That strategy worked on me. I plan on coming back for another of Loo’s classes, maybe one with a summertime theme.
People interested in mixology classes ($50 per person, which includes some appetizers) should reach out to email@example.com.
Meantime, I’m armed with four cocktail recipes I can try at home — well, maybe not that darned Ramos Gin Fizz. Cheers!
Dave Eckert is a partner with Flavor Trade, a Kansas City-based gourmet food incubator and co-packer. Before that, Eckert was the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS and AWE for 12 seasons.