I wouldn’t call myself an aspiring bartender, but I have recently been interested in learning how to make a few cocktails for my friends when they come over to my house. So, naturally, when the Fine Food and Dining Society put out their list of classes for the year, I quickly signed up for their cocktail class!
This class was unique for a few reasons. Instead of the usual location; St Andrews Episcopal Church, we were welcomed into the warm atmosphere of 1 Golf Place. Additionally, in this class, the committee had the opportunity to sit back and participate as students, as Brett of 1 Golf Place took the reins.
Before the class began we were able to peruse the menu of cocktails for the evening, which offered a welcoming variety of flavours, from sweet to salty, bitter to sour, and finishing off with a mystery drink that promised an umami flavour. Our instructor informed us that he decided to choose cocktails that he felt were misinterpreted, so the list included a few familiar classics, such as The Old Fashioned and The Bloody Mary. The class started off with a bang as we were all given tequila slammers. I was surprised to learn that the origin of the ‘slam’ in tequila slammers didn’t come from slamming the glass on the table after downing the drink; you are supposed to cover the glass with a napkin and shake it to create carbonation, then slam it on the table before knocking it down the hatch. This theme of providing the backstory of drinks and clearing up misconceptions was continued throughout the evening and warmed the history lover in my heart.
Next up was The Bloody Mary, which he stressed to roll and not shake. The famed celery stick you always see included with the drink was supposedly introduced when a bartender at the Ambassador Hotel noticed a women stirring one in her vodka-tomato juice mix. This one was a little too spicy for me, but two of my cohorts praised the flavour and finished them quickly. The third of the cocktails was the Negroni, a bitter gin-based drink that originated in Italy. According to our instructor, the trick to getting it right was stirring it for 18 seconds exactly. When asked why, he replied that 18 was the magic number for cocktails. Throughout the evening, he kept providing little tips and tricks like this, which I quickly jotted down on my menu, which now looks a bit like the Half-Blood Prince’s potions textbook. The bitter Negroni was followed by an Old Fashioned, which is a sweet, bourbon-based drink. Despite my distaste for bourbon I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit, especially because it is a slow, sipping drink.
Four cocktails in (and a bit more tipsy than I’d like to admit), our next drink was a Ramos Gin Fizz, which promised a sour flavour. This was by far my favourite drink of the night. A blended gin-based drink, it also included standards such as lime and lemon juice but also a few more novel ingredients such as egg white and full fat milk. As there was more than enough to go around, my friends and I all had two (okay, maybe three) refills.
Last but not least was the mystery drink, entitled the Batida De Milho Verde, which our instructor informed us was a national drink for Brazil (whether or not this is true, I do not yet know.) According to Google translate, this means “beat of corn,” which kind of gives away the surprise element of this cocktail. The secret ingredient to what we later found out was a bourbon-based drink is sweet corn. Now, before you surmise that this would taste absolutely awful, you have to try it. This was my second favourite drink of the night (despite the bourbon) and was a surprisingly great way to round off the evening.
Even after the class had ended most of us still hung around to chat and finish our drinks, which just added to the already fun and welcoming tone of the evening. After six cocktails I was definitely feeling the effects, and more than a few traipsed back to the library tipsy. This class left nothing wanting as I learned not only how to make the cocktails on the menu but the tips, tricks, and history along the way. Arguably my favourite Fine Food and Dining class of the year!
Photo credits: Emilie Trehu