Last weekend Pete and I had the pleasure of attending a cocktail making class at Manhattan 34, a wonderful bar in Leicester that whisks you back to a bygone age of potent prohibition tipples and bartenders who really know their stuff.
I snapped our tickets to the class up a few months ago when the bar ran a Wowcher offer which the guys told us they did as a way of giving something back to the city that they have collectively been bartending in for over a decade which was really lovely to hear. It's great to see people giving something back to their community.
We showed up a little early so had a cocktail each before the other people joining the class turned up. I went for an Aviation which I've been desperate to try for a while as it contains gin, lemon, maraschino liqueur and creme de violette - I'm a sucker for floral flavours like violet, rose and elderflower. It was lovely and sharp with the sweetness of the cherry liqueur peeking through and a ghosts whisper of violet left on the tongue. Perfection.
Just as we were finishing our drinks a hen party turned up and I looked at Pete. I won't lie - we shared a brief moment of panic as we both realised this was who we would be doing our class with, but soon realised that we were with a lovely bunch of ladies out to have fun and got right in there and joined in!
We had an absolutely wonderful night and learned so much from Roop and the crew. We started off learning how to make a simple equal parts citrus based cocktail and the learn a few simple tricks that turn it into completely different tasting drinks using simple things like egg whites. This was a fabulous way of teaching you how with just a few simple ingredients you can make several drinks that look and taste individual making it easy to host your own cocktail party at home without having to purchase a whole cabinets worth of different alcohols.
We then went on to make more personal bevvies next with the hen party ladies learning to make Mojitos and Pina Coladas and Pete and I learning how to make a proper Old Fashioned and dry gin martini. This is when I finally learned the difference between a wet and dry martini and Pete learned how to order an old fashioned that will improve as you sit and sip! Yay knowledge!
We finished off the evening with a good old cocktail competition splitting off into two teams and making cocktails influenced by our favourite meals. I was on Team Pudding and Pete was on Team Italian. The heat was on. We were made an absolutely amazing lemon curd martini - perfect pudding in a glass with real lemon curd shaken with lemoncello and another magical ingredient and topped with a flurry of fluffy whisked egg whites spiked with amaretto. Seriously good stuff. It's not on the menu, but if you do visit be sure to order one as it is a real treat! Team Italian made a fabulous Bufala Negra which turned out to be a new favourite of Pete's - bourbon and ginger beer mixed with basil, balsamic and brown sugar.
It really was a fantastic evening and we gained so much knowledge. We're already planning a little cocktail soiree at our place to show off our new boozy tricks and might even go in for an advanced class after some more practice at home. The guys were fabulous fun and were great at bringing everyone out of their shell getting the behind the bar shaking up a tasty tipple. I would highly recommend taking a class if you have even the slightest interest in drinks mixing or just trying some new drinks and broadening your boozy horizons!
If you'd like to learn more about the cocktail sessions you can click here or have a browse of their extensive menu here.
The Manhattan 34 boys also run a mobile events team Events 34 that can provide you with a classy mobile bar for your event. They also run a bartending academy where you can attend basic or advanced cocktail making schools - these are aimed more at professionals but I'm sure the guys would be able to transfer these skills into classes for non-pros.
You can keep up to date with the Manhattan 34 guys on their Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest - or you can take a quick mini class via their Youtube Channel.
Here's one of my favourites to see you out...
The images in this post are predominantly from www.manhattan34.com and www.events34.com.