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Classic Cocktails


The last decade has brought a renaissance of classic cocktails that highlight the ingredients and the craftsmanship that go into one of life’s simple pleasures. Does COVID have you asking yourself if those beautiful libations are beyond your reach? It is time to learn how to self serve without sacrificing quality. Join me in an interactive lesson on the surprisingly straightforward basics of making fabulous cocktails.

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SKU: cocktails Category:

September 24, 2020


Matt Regan, Instructor

What You Will Learn

  • Equipment – The seven 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

The Menu

We will focus on standards of the cocktail “songbook” that will give you an appreciation for the simple pleasures of craft cocktails while building the foundation on which all cocktail recipes are based. Plan on making one or two “in class”, then sitting back and enjoying your drink while you listen in on the other recipes and techniques.

  • Old Fashioned – no neon red cherry, no orange wedge… just the very definition of what “cocktail” means
  • Daiquiri – no blender, no shaved ice… quite possibly the best kept cocktail secret
  • Margarita – because evidently we live in Texas and one must know how to make the real thing (which is to say, if you bring sour mix to the class you will be sent to the principal’s office!)
  • Negroni – because it is the teacher’s favorite and no other reason need be given

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!

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!)


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 (Old Fashioned) – 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!).
  • Angostura Bitters (Old Fashioned) – the classic implementation of cocktail bitters. This is not optional. Get a bottle.
  • Rum (Daiquiri) – there is a huge spectrum of styles and flavor profiles when it comes to rum. For this class you can keep it super simple with a white rum (Flor de Cana, Plantation, El Dorado). If you want an extra layer of complexity go with an aged rum such as Diplomatico Reserva, El Dorado 12, etc.
  • Tequila (Margarita) – once again, there is no shortage of choices with Tequila. I recommend a reposado, which will have some additional flavor notes, but go with what you have on hand or know you like.
  • Triple Sec (Margarita) – an orange liquor, it is the primary source of sweetness in your margarita. You can go with high end brands like Grand Marnier and Cointreau, or go with a less expensive local option like Paula’s Texas Orange.
  • Gin (Negroni) – stick with a classic London dry gin when stocking your bar, then branch out into other varieties as you want to explore the genre. Brokers is a great London dry gin to start out with if you need a recommendation.
  • Amaro (Negroni) – 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.
  • Sweet Vermouth (Negroni) – 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!

Additional Ingredients

Be sure to have the following handy as well to round out your ingredient list:

  • Sugar
  • An Orange (really any kind of orange is fine, but we need it to be whole and intact! No cuties/halos/etc)
  • Limes (at least 2 or 3 for the first round, more for multiple rounds)