Mixing up a cocktail or six with Mixology in London

by Carmen Allan-Petale

As a girl who grew up watching Sex and the City, I’m not impartial to the odd cocktail. There’s nothing better than having a night out with the girls and kicking the evening off with a Cosmopolitan in hand while you catch up on the latest gossip.

So when my friend asked if I wanted to partake in a cocktail making class, I wasn’t going to turn it down.

If there was a Martini involved, I was there faster than you could say Sex on the Beach.

What, cocktail? I'm there!

What? Cocktail? I’m there!

But I must admit that I’m certainly more accustomed to drinking cocktails than making them. For my 20th birthday (a few, ahem, years ago – but who’s counting?) I hosted a cocktail party where we used a number of blenders to mix up a variety of drinks.

Pre-party, I was very organised, printing out recipes and laminating them so my friends and I could follow instructions to help us make up some tasty drinks.

Needless to say, as the night went on, these recipes were forgotten and the cocktails ingredients got wilder and wilder. Before we knew it, it was the wee hours of the morning and we were chanting ‘down it, down it’, fists banging on the table as my best mate swallowed a drink handcrafted by yours truly that was murky green. In fact the colour reminded me of an algae-covered pond, now that I recall it.

It’s impressive I can remember anything of that night, actually.

The girls mixing up a cocktail together

The girls mixing up a cocktail together

But anyway, I’ve grown up a lot since then (ahem) and was keen to flaunt my new-and-improved cocktail making skills that I’ve gained over the years at the Mixology cocktail making class. Well… I haven’t exactly practised these skills, but after watching many a bartender mix me a cocktail, surely it can’t be that hard to do it myself, right?

Wrong.

The Mixology bartender rattled through our first set of instructions with flair, flipping a couple of bottles in the air and balancing his glass on his elbow as he went. My friend whispered that his ‘strong forearms’ were rather distracting and we all giggled before he shushed us.

The barman with the biceps

The barman with the biceps

The first drink was the French Martini, consisting of blackberries, Chambord and pressed pineapple juice. As well as vodka. Delicious. Well, the bartender’s was anyway.

I’m not sure whether it was his ‘distracting’ biceps, but for some reason my cocktail didn’t taste quite right.

Next he taught us how to make the Elderflower Julep, which consists of mint leaves, gin, elderflower cordial and apple juice. This was my favourite drink and best of all is that all the ingredients can easily be found in Britain so needless to say I will be making this cocktail at home. I felt I was getting a little more confident in making cocktails by this stage and so my drink wasn’t as bitter as the last.

The Mixology Masterclass comes with everything you need to mix up your cocktails

The Mixology Masterclass comes with everything you need to mix up your cocktails

After this we made the Grapefruit and Marzipan Daiquiri which consists of two types of rum, lime, sugar syrup and pink grapefruit. The marzipan flavour comes from orgeat syrup which has an almond-flavoured taste to it.

Our bartender told us that this drink was favoured by Ernest Hemmingway who enjoyed eight measures of rum per cocktail. Which would’ve been fine if he’d had one cocktail at a time, but he was known for knocking back a few more. Seven more cocktails in fact – which is the equivalent to three and a half bottles of rum in one sitting!

Well Hemmingway must’ve had a higher tolerance to alcohol than me because by this stage in the night I was started to feel a little bit tipsy. We’d also had another cocktail on arrival so it was now four cocktails and counting.

Our bartender showed us how to mix two more cocktails – the Mai Tai and the Zombie.

The Zombie flaming in the coconut

The Zombie flaming in the coconut

I would tell you what’s in them… but I can’t really remember!

The Mai Tai is reportedly the best cocktail but by this stage my own concoctions were hardly high-quality mixing standard.

It seems my friends have similar skills to me because at the end of the class we put our cocktail mixing to the test when we competed against another four teams to win the best cocktail.

I wish I could say we won that prize… but I can’t.

So I’ve decided – I think I’ll stick to watching the bartender mix me my drinks, rather than mix them myself. And hey, with biceps like those…

My friend Morgan mixes up her cocktail

My friend Morgan mixes up her cocktail

What you need to know:

Cost: Tickets for a Mixology Masterclass cost £70 and this includes an antipasti platter to share between five and a bowl of pasta each to line the stomach for your six cocktails.

When to go: Mixology run classes each month at their locations in East London. You will need to book ahead online. Mixology can also rent spaces for private events. Ours was held in Charlie’s Cafe in Notting Hill, as my friend’s company hosted her event. I should also disclose that because we went as part of her social club, I only paid £15 for my ticket and her company paid the rest.

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