December 10th, 2020
8-9:30 PM CDT
Matt Regan, Instructor
Classic Cocktails 301
At some point there comes a time to get serious about your major and dig into the more advanced concepts. Kidding! The Classic Cocktails series is strictly about enjoying great cocktails with great people. The holiday season is upon us, which means we will hopefully have the perfect opportunity to do just that. Join us for the third class in our series where we will turn our attention to rich drinks that will warm the spirit as you gather with friends and family to celebrate.
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 where 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
In my humble cocktail opinion, one would be wasting the holiday season if you let it pass without making at least one nog. That said, eggnog is not for everyone, so we will round out our class with a combination of complimentary cocktails that provide other effective ways to make merry. Plan to make one or two drinks yourself as you follow along, then sit back and sip those while you watch and learn the other recipes and techniques.
- Eggnog – no pre-made mixes here, this is the real deal. Packed with a great blend of spirits that will make you understand how this became the quintessential holiday libation in the first place.
- Vieux Carré – a New Orleans legend, if not necessarily a classic holiday cocktail. This spirit-forward drink will warm your soul, which makes it a good fit for the holidays as far as I am concerned.
- Amaretto Sour – check your sour mix, neon red cherries and college nostalgia at the door. We will reinvent what this cocktail means to you forever.
- Fools Gold – We should have more rum in our lives, and with its honey syrup and cassis this cocktail feels cheery and festive.
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.
SPECIAL NOTE: You will want to have a blender or mixer available to make quick work of your eggnog. Sure you can do it by hand with a whisk and a mixing bowl, but ideally let’s take advantage of the marvels of modern technology and let an electric motor do the heavy lifting.
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!):
- Bourbon (Eggnog, Amaretto Sour) – you can really break the bank these days when it comes to buying bourbon, but I recommend keeping it simple for mixing. Go with an Eljah Craig Small Batch, Bulleit, or even an Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond (white label!).
- Rum (Eggnog, Fools Gold) – 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 an aged rum, such as Diplomatico Reserva, El Dorado 12, etc.
- Crème de Cassis (Fools Gold) – a sweet liqueur with a vibrant color, it adds beautiful flavor to a drink. This does need to be refrigerated to keep after opening, so go with a smaller bottle if you can find one. I recommend a brand called Dolfi, not expensive and should be easy to find.
- Angostura Bitters (Vieux Carré) – the classic implementation of cocktail bitters. This is not optional. Get a bottle.
- Peychaud Bitters (Vieux Carré) – the next most readily available cocktail bitter. These were invented in New Orleans and are a key ingredient in many of the city’s famous cocktails.
- Rye (Vieux Carré) – a dry (less sweet) whiskey than bourbon, it provides a great backbone to spirit forward drinks. You can sub this in for bourbon in most cocktails if you want to cut the sweetness typically to most bourbons.
- Cognac (Vieux Carré) – No need to break the bank here since we are mixing, you can even feel free to sub in regular brandy. That said, you can usually find a VSOP in the low $30 range, and make some great cocktails with it (or even sip it!).
- Benedictine (Vieux Carré) – an herbal liqueur with a strong flavor profile, this is a key ingredient in the Vieux Carré. We do not need a lot though, so get a small bottle if you can find one.
- Sweet Vermouth (Vieux Carré) – vermouth is a fortified wine that pairs beautifully with higher proof spirits. Do not cut corners on vermouth, it is worth getting the good stuff (and still not very expensive). I strongly recommend Cocchi Vermouth di Torino or Carpano Antica, but Dolin will do in a pinch. Dry vermouth and blanco vermouth have their places in cocktails, but for our menu be sure to go sweet!
- Amaretto (Amaretto Sour) – Obviously we cannot make an Amaretto Sour without this namesake liqueur. Please, I beg you, do yourself a favor and search out Lazzaroni Amaretto. It is not expensive, but it is a true thing of beauty and as the main ingredient in this cocktail it is critical to have the best.
Be sure to have the following handy as well to round out your ingredient list:
- Lemons (at least 3 or 4, we will use for juicing and for garnish, so do not juice them all!)
- Eggs (whole)
- Heavy Cream
- Whole Milk
- Whole Nutmeg (and a grater, sorry for sneaking in the extra equipment!)
- Luxardo Maraschino Cherries – a delicious finishing touch to many cocktails, great to keep in stock!