Thursday, July 5, 2012
When I tell people I lead Italian Cocktail Workshops they think I’m making it up. “Right. You and Domenico head up to the terrace, have a Negroni or two, and call it a workshop. Nice.”
I mean, yes, we do often (too often?) head up to the terrace for a Negroni (or martini, or whiskey sour or gimlet). But the cocktail workshops really are work. I swear.
But I’ve always been a big believer that work should be fun. And that learning should be fun too. I’ve tried to combine both of those personal mottoes in my life, and am happy to spread the wealth.
So, with that in mind, I started leading Food Workshops. And while folks can kind of get their mind around a olive oil, balsamic vinegar or even grappa tasting/workshop, cocktails usually throws them for a loop.
What’s a Cocktail Workshop you’re thinking? No, it’s not just a glorified happy hour (although it’s kinda that too). I really do have a syllabus (not to be confused with a syllabub) and I think my ‘students’ really do leave knowing more than they started with.
While having fun at the same time, of course.
What topics do we cover? Well, first off, I’m assuming you’ve already taken Cocktails 101. This is not a Cocktail survey, but an advanced class for hard core cocktailistas who want to expand their horizons towards Italy. (but don’t worry, beginners catch up real quick)
First off we do a tasting of the main ingredients that go into classic Italian cocktails. Bitters like Campari and Aperol, vermouths like Martini & Rossi, Rosso Antico, and Carpano.
You have to know your ingredients, whether you are cooking with them or drinking them, right?
Once we’ve mastered the basics, we mix them up. In order of complexity we proceed: Campari & Soda, Americano, Negroni. And just for fun, Negroni Sbagliato.
If you’re thinking that we are on the floor by now, you’d be wrong. This is a Workshop, remember? We are here to ‘Work.’ So I make one or two cocktails of each type and we ‘taste’ (that’s a professional terms used is these types of situations. Trust me.)
After we’ve mastered the classics, we move on to some of my own spins on what an Italian cocktail is. I love creating new and delicious drinks using what I think of as particularly Italian and seasonal ingredients. Whether it is a brand of Italian pickled onions or a big bunch of Basil, I’m always playing around.
We end the class on an experimental note. Since we’ve already covered the classics, and my own weird and wonderful concoctions, we move on to play with other types of Italian alcohol. Yes, it’s grappa and amaro time. This past week I mixed up Nonino Fragolino Ue with pureed strawberries and a bit of lemon juice and soda water. A Fragolino. And the grand finale was Cynar and Orange. Who knew an artichoke based amaro would end up being everyone’s favorite?
So now you know. This is what happens in an Italian Cocktail Workshop. But don’t try this at home.
You really need a professional to guide you through. Trust me.
To find out more about my Italian Cocktail Workshop - or any of the other workshops I do - just send me an email.
Posted by Elizabeth Minchilli at 7:26 AM