Learn by Doing: a Bitters & Brass Whiskey Cocktail Class

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It's all rye with me.

How did the New York Sour get its name? What is the difference between bourbon and rye, and are both considered whiskey? And what the heck is a jigger?

Bitters & Brass owners Arthur and Julian know how to craft exceptional cocktails and they enjoy discussing them just as much as making them. And so their cocktail classes are the perfect way to delve into the history and art of cocktails. 

Their Bourbon and Rye Cocktail Class began with a smash - a Whiskey Smash to be exact, served punch bowl-style. The Whiskey Smash is a mix of bourbon, simple syrup, lemon juice, and mint leaves; and is a perfect sipper to get us ready for mixing three more classic whiskey cocktails.

  Arthur Boothe shares a little history behind some of America's greatest whiskey cocktails.

Arthur Boothe shares a little history behind some of America's greatest whiskey cocktails.

Each Bitters & Brass cocktail class begins with learning about a few basics and the principal ingredient(s) of the class (this one being bourbon and rye whiskey). We familiarized ourselves with the bar tools at our personal working stations and got to work.

  Topping off our New York Sour with malbec. Steady hands, steady hands.

Topping off our New York Sour with malbec. Steady hands, steady hands.

The first drink on the syllabus was the New York Sour. This visually appealing cocktail comprised of simple syrup, lemon, bourbon, and malbec was the “it” cocktail to order in speakeasies during prohibition. As we learned not to “judo chop” our shaker apart, we poured the malbec artfully over our bar spoon to top it off.

After whetting our whistles with the New York Sour we moved on to the Scofflaw which consists of grenadine, lemon, dry vermouth, rye whiskey, and orange bitters. This tasty cocktail is no drink to scoff at! The word “Scofflaw” was coined in 1923 to describe people who mocked and disregarded The Volstead Act aka the 18th Amendment, which enacted prohibition in the United States.

Days after the word “Scofflaw” was created the Scofflaw cocktail popped up in Paris at Harry’s American Bar as a nod to the Yanks back home. We shook, strained, and sipped on a bit of history with this vibrant classic.

Our final concoction was named after a famous hotel in Louisville, Kentucky frequented by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Al Capone, and former presidents. The Seelbach is a bourbon drink topped with bitters and bubbles. 

  Julian Burgos keeps everyone (The Mr.) in line and is helpful if our drink begins to go awry.

Julian Burgos keeps everyone (The Mr.) in line and is helpful if our drink begins to go awry.

Arthur and Julian do a great job of making everyone feel comfortable, and they are more than willing to share tips and tricks to help improve your bartending techniques throughout the class. You’ll leave with the confidence that you can recreate these cocktails at home to impress your friends.

Each class is approximately an hour and a half, giving participants the opportunity to learn from the professionals and also engage with fellow cocktail enthusiasts. 

More cocktail classes are on the horizon and are perfect for date nights! Visit Bitters & Brass at 410 Sanford Avenue, and be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated. Maybe we’ll see you at a future class! Cheers!

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