28 April 2014

Bellinis, Cosmos and the Mojito Mint Myth - Cocktail Making Class

Last week I was invited to an event by the company sponsoring my work visa. Our intimate group of about 20 were going to learn how to make those fruity, colourful drinks known as cocktails and several other equally colourful and inventive names at Albannach's vaulted cocktail bar. Along the way we'd also be picking up a few bartender secrets.

Now I don't drink so why did I go to a Cocktail Making class? Well, why not? There is such a thing as a mocktail right? I had the pleasure of trying all the drinks, minus the alcohol and the hangover the next morning. Win-win if you ask me.

By the way, I was such a scatterbrain and forgot to bring my camera so sorry in advance for the poor quality photos!

Canapes to go with the ample supply of drinks.
So diving right in with our colourful bartender, complete with plaits he kept flicking back over his shoulders, we were guided through the history and origins of each drink. We started with Bellinis, followed by Cosmopolitans then Mojitos! The drinks were intraspersed with some yummy canapes and at the end we had the chance to take a step behind the bar and mix our favourite cocktail (or in my case, a fruity drink) with the expert help of the bartenders.

So here are a few things to help with your bar tending prowess and a little something you may not know about these drinks*

*This info may or may not help your bar tending nor do I guarantee the accurateness of the stories behind the drinks ;)

How to recognise a fake Bellini
Did you know that a Bellini must be mixed by pouring the liquid from one glass to the other? It shouldn’t be shaken or stirred. If this isn't done, the ingredients separate and you end up with layers in the glass. This leads to the drinker stirring the glass which leads to loosing those tickling bubbles. 

Bellinis all in a neat little row
The best glass for a Cosmos (Cosmopolitan)
Cosmos were made famous by the TV series Sex and the City. However, the glass Cosmos were originally served in was not the martini glass, it was a coupe, described as the perfect shape of a woman's breast - supposedly Marie Antoinette's. This same glass was popular in the 1920's for drinking champagne instead of the champagne flute.

Sex and the City Cosmos on fire
The Mojito and Mint Myth
Mint, it doesnt do much for the flavour really. You pop them in your hands to release the flavour before adding to the glass and then add more placed near the straw so they are smelled when the drinker takes a sip. Its also traditional to add soda to the drink to hydrate the drinker in the heat, in London however, its not required as the ice is enough to dilute the alcohol.

More Mojitos!

Why the Bar set up is important
We were also told about how a bar is set up. To be honest, I never really gave it much thought but it is important and vital for speedy serving. They set up the 'speed rail' just under the bar so that they don't really need to look for an ingredient, house alcohol or garnish, to pick it up. If they have more than one bar, both are set up exactly the same. Makes sense really.

How to properly shake a cocktail
Finally the cocktail shake. To look like you know what your doing, place the glass at an angle over the mixer, glass on top as it is heavier, long (but fast) shakes over the shoulder and your done. To remove the glass, give it a firm whack with the fleshy heel of your palm where there is a slight gap between the glass and the mixer. If your karate-chop doesn't work, try tapping it on the edge of the bar to loosen. And Viola! You are a total pro!

My very own non-alcoholic fruity drink, I called it a "Sam" ;) Thats our bartender and cocktail historian eyeing up my drink there.
It was a fun night out. We had the entire place to ourselves, which felt decadent given the Trafalgar Square location. The highlight was getting behind the bar to make my own drink. I know I can mix a fruit drink anywhere, I dont need to do it behind a bar, but still, it was the novelty of it, I just never imagined that I'd get behind a real bar to make a drink. I also had a great time meeting other people in the company and I even met some newly-arrived Kiwis!

Whats your favourite drink? Have you ever been to a cocktail making class in London?


  1. Um, your new blog layout is amazing!!! Very pretty indeed! This sounds like a lot of fun and I think the photos are just fine.

    1. Aww *blush* thanks Mandy, I was really excited about the new design :)
      It was a fun evening, it turns the tables on the usual 'going for drinks' scenario.

  2. This looks like a great night - and I totally agree with the coupe for bubbly bevvies, it's much better!

    1. The coupe does have a classier feel to it i think :)