April Round-Up

Who was it who said too much knowledge is a dangerous thing? What the hell were they thinking of? We’re never happier than when those little cogs in our heads are whirring round and round, particularly when we’re learning new things about drinks…

While we’re not interested in swapping our position in front of the bar on a permanent basis, every so often we get an urge to see what we look like behind it. That’s why we love getting our hands sticky at the occasional cocktail masterclass. Yes, they’re fun and involve tasting more alcohol than is strictly sensible but the best thing is most of them give you the opportunity to strike a pose behind the bar as well as coming away having learned something new.

We learnt a lot from the lovely Joel Lawrence at the five-star St. James’s Hotel and Club. What he doesn’t know about cocktails doesn’t bear thinking about. Even so, he kept his masterclass simple: just three drinks, a Martini, Mojito and Cosmo were on the menu, which allowed for plenty of interaction, a fair amount of anecdotes and lots of quality drinking. All students get to free pour – slightly nerve-wracking at first but surprisingly satisfying once the liquor takes hold and you get the hang of it – as well as mixing up all three classics. Thank heavens quality canapés are on offer at the end of each round; you really need something to soak up the effects.

The next session focusing on seasonal cocktails takes place on 27 May. We’re looking forward to trying our hand at a Pear & Elderflower Fizz, Pear & Apple Mojito and Poire-Tini. The St. James’s masterclasses cost £65 and include two welcome glasses of champagne, three cocktails, canapés, another drink in the excellent bar plus a fab certificate to hang in pride of place in your home.

St. James’s Hotel & Club, 7-8 Park Pl, SW1A 1LP. T: 020-7316 1600. http://www.stjameshotelandclub.com/

Words to the wise (or just plain curious)

According to Joel Lawrence the first ever mention of the word Cocktail is in an American magazine called Balance in 1806. “Cocktail is a stimulating liquor comprising of any kind of spirits, sugar, water and bitters.” Lawrence also states that the Sazerac (cognac and bitters) which hails from New Orleans, Louisiana is one of the oldest known cocktails.

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