Saturday, March 6, 2021
8-9:30 PM CDT
Matt Regan, Instructor
Classic Cocktails 202
You understand the basics, the core principles of crafting a fabulous, classic libation. Well done you. While there is no shame in stopping there to enjoy the proverbial smell of the roses, you may find yourself wanting more. Wanting to take the next step in your home craft cocktail journey.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Classic Cocktails 202: Tiki. What once was a bit of a cliché is now a legitimate and fantastic class of ingenious cocktails unto itself. Bring out your rum (and your rhum, for that matter). Bring out your pineapple. Bring out your orgeat. Bring out your wacky tiki glassware (optional!). This one promises to be both fun and delicious.
First time students can rest assured that the basics will still be taught (and reviewed, for return students). This class, like all classes in the Classic Cocktails series, is for everyone and anyone that wants to bring cocktail joy to themselves and those they love. That is the only true prerequisite.
What You Will Learn
- Equipment – The eight must have tools (or solid substitutes) you need to have on hand
- Spirits – What to keep in stock, and how to store it
- Accoutrement – The necessary ingredients needed to compliment the star of the show
- Technique – It takes more than just talent (aka spirits) to assemble the perfect drink
Tiki cocktails are generally characterized by having five or more ingredients, with rum as the base spirit and a mixture of juices to balance, sweeten and round out the concoctions. They are fun, delicious, and highly approachable even to imbibers who generally otherwise shy away from “hard liquor”. That said, they can also be complex, and highlight the best attributes of spirits when combined properly, so as to bring joy to the cocktail veteran as well. Long story short, they bring something to the table for everyone.
Classic Cocktails 202 will focus mostly on traditional tiki drinks to build your foundation in the subject area. I have however added one “modern” variant, for some variety and to allow for the introduction of some other interesting ingredients to your bar. We will of course also discuss rifs on the classics to set you up for an endless road of exploration.
- Mai Tai – probably the most famous tiki drink, and for good reason. Warning: this drink should not be bright red in color, or made from any pre-assembled mixes! An introduction to the magic of blending rums. An introduction to the all important ingredient orgeat. Bright from fresh citrus. Clean from a mint garnish.
- Jungle Bird – one of my favorites, and a good counter-balance to the classic, sweeter tiki drinks. Campari’s bitterness plays beautifully against the rum and pineapple.
- Painkiller – slightly lesser known than the mai tai, but equally special. This brings coconut and pineapple to the party. Talk about tiki.
- Scorpion Reef – a modern tiki, I added this to the menu to join the jungle bird in avoiding an overly sweet set of cocktails, but also as an excuse to introduce mezcal to your home bar.
What to Bring to Class
If you have been looking for an excuse to outfit a home bar, like gadgets, or simply believe in the old adage “you should always have the right tool for the job,” then get your hands on this equipment prior to class (Amazon smile links provided, so you can double down on your gift to PFLASA, but the retailer of your choice will do!):
- Bar spoon – A bar spoon is long and balanced, with a spiral pattern along its stem that makes stirring easier
- Mini measuring cup / Jigger – there is no “eyeballing it” in craft cocktails
- Hawthorne strainer – Pour the cocktail, leave the mixing ice
- Mixing glass – Do not tell James Bond I said this, but many cocktails are better stirred than shaken
- Shaker – Do not fear the Boston (two piece) shaker, it is far superior to the frustrating 3-Piece shaker
- Ice mold – We like our cocktails cold, but we do not like them watered down
- Vegetable peeler – good news, you probably already have this on hand!
- Citrus Juicer – a little fresh squeezed citrus juice goes a long way in making a great cocktail. Something like this, or a simple reemer will get the job done.
If you are not yet ready to commit to purchasing equipment, feel free to substitute any of the above with some of these suggestions that you may be able to find around the house:
- Bar spoon – a regular spoon, a butter knife, your finger?
- Measuring cup / Jigger – kitchen measuring cups and spoons, medicine cup (yes, I went there, call it a metaphor)
- Hawthorne Strainer – mesh strainer, mini colander, plastic lid
- Mixing glass – Yeti tumbler, 3-Piece shaker, mason jar, large cup, pint glass
- Shaker – Yeti tumbler (with lid), 3-Piece shaker, mason jar (with lid), Nalgene (large mouth water bottle)
- Ice mold – small bowls, shot glasses, cupcake tin, aluminum foil molds (I will be honest, most of these ideas are a reach, but feel free to get creative)
- Vegetable peeler – paring knife (seriously, you don’t have a vegetable peeler? Please just get a vegetable peeler!)
- Citrus Juicer – your hands, literally. Just squeeze that lemon over a bowl
It is going to take some alcohol to make cocktails! Depending on what you want to be prepared to make the night of the class and/or where your spirit preferences lie, have a few of the following on hand (no need to get them all!).
As this list is actually much shorter than previous Classic Cocktails classes, take the liberty of exploring the world of rum!
- Rum (all the drinks. This is Tiki people!) – there is a huge spectrum of styles and flavor profiles when it comes to rum. For this class you want to get your hands on as many rums as possible (at your discretion), avoiding white rums, for instance:
- Aged (añejo): Diplomático Reserva, El Dorado 8, etc.
- Blackstrap: made from molasses, Cruzan is the default, but there are others available as well
- Jamaican: a little funkier, specifically consider Smith & Cross, my favorite
- Pineapple: Plantation Pineapple Rum (aka Stiggins Fancy) is amazing
- Orange Liqueur (Mai Tai) – a popular category of liqueur, this is used to sweeten a cocktail while adding some orange flavoring and without diluting the general strength of the final product. A mai tai typically calls for orange curaçao, but you might already have triple sec in your home bar from earlier classes. They are fairly interchangeable, and I would not recommend over-stocking here. Go with what you have. If you do not yet have an orange liqueur on hand, get a curaçao this go around. There are differences between the brands, some differences are small, some are broader.
- Amaro (Jungle Bird) – this Italian (traditionally) bitter alcohol provides great balance to a number of drinks, and is the key ingredient in a Negroni. Campari is the most famous, but Aperol tends to have broader appeal if we are being honest. Since tiki drinks tend to be on the sweeter side, Campari’s extra bitterness will provide the balance we are looking for in the Jungle Bird.
- Mezcal (Scorpion Reef) – tequila’s grown up, smoky cousin, mezcal is made by firing the heart of agave plants in a pit dug into the ground. It is smoky, and edgy, and to be honest not for everyone (and at the very least usually an acquired taste). If/once you fall in love with it though, you truly love it. Because it is an art, and by definition made in single batches in small villages in Mexico, its price can range widely from $30 to $100+ and well beyond. If you are new to this spirit and want to give it a try, stick with a less expensive but trusted option, Del Maguey’s Vida Mezcal. Del Maguey offers mezcals from a series of villages in Mexico, so do not just look for that name, look for the Vida, otherwise you will likely over buy. Once you know Mezcal is your thing, then start to experiment with different producers and price ranges.
- Angostura Bitters (Scorpion Reef) – the classic implementation of cocktail bitters. This is not optional. Get a bottle, for this class, for all your drinks.
- Chocolate Bitters (Scorpion Reef) – an example of how bitters have made a complete comeback in the world of cocktail ingredients. At one point in the not-so-distant past you would be hard pressed to find even two types of bitters, there are now literally more types of bitters than you can shake a stick at. While most are capable of adding a great alternate direction to a standard recipe, it is not practical to “have all the bitters” in your home bar. Choose the ones that work for the drinks you enjoy. Chocolate bitters are good in this Scorpion Reef, and also play nicely with tequila and mezcal in old fashioned variants. If that sounds like your speed, pick up a bottle. If not, feel free to skip this one.
Be sure to have the following handy as well to round out your ingredient list:
- Rich Simple Syrup – a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water. Make ahead of time by heating sugar and water over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool, then refrigerate.
- Limes (at least 4 or 5)
- Lemons (1 or 2)
- Oranges (at least 1)
- Pineapple juice (against my typical guidance, purchasing prepared pineapple juice is acceptable)
- Coconut Cream
- Pineapple (a few pieces of fresh pineapple, for garnish only, not critical)
- Fresh mint sprigs
- Ice (including crushed ice, if you have access)
RECIPES AND SHOPPING LIST TO PRINT
If you want to print the list, click here.