Cocktail masterclass

  • The List
  • 31 August 2006

Movers and shakers

Chris Bradley takes a cocktail masterclass at Bar Soba. Now, if only he could remember what went into that Flippin’ Blueberry Martini . . .

I’ve just created my very own cocktail, to be known as the Flippin’ Blueberry Martini, and everyone agrees it’s going down rather well. I’d share the recipe with you, but to be honest I’ve completely forgotten, having already partaken of a Pomegranate and Passion Fruit Martini, a Monkey Jam Sour and a Cucumber and Lemongrass Cooler. The intriguing latter variety was invented just for me and my friends, not 20 minutes earlier, by Scott Stevens, resident mixologist at Bar Soba. This is all part of the service at one of Soba’s new interactive cocktail evenings, subtitled ‘Movers and Shakers’. The basic premise is that there’s only one thing guaranteed to get the party started quicker than a long list of extravagantly named and shamelessly alcoholic cocktails. And that’s the cocktails being served up by your own personal mixologist, who also talks you through the process and shows you how it’s done. Stevens, who has 13 years of cocktail experience, found mixing was something that came naturally to him. ‘It’s all about getting the right balance’ he says, making it sound incredibly easy. Unfortunately, as a beginner, with several drinks in me already, balance is something I don’t have, and my efforts are turning out distinctly sour. Enter the expert with a splash of this and a dash of that, to transform it into a highly drinkable Martini.

Stevens has been running cocktail master classes down at Bar Soba for a while now. With a background in events organisation, he wanted to get back to his roots. ‘Movers and Shakers’ is therefore an interactive show, taking the idea of the masterclass one step further. As well as demonstrations, tips and information about the products and tools of the trade, there’s an opportunity to take part in team challenges. These might include a ‘Generation Game’ style event, where participants are scored on their attempts to copy the experts, or encouraged to dream up the best cocktail variation from a bag of mystery ingredients. Of course, everybody is plied with drinks throughout, and the event can also be combined with a full meal. In fact Soba can cater for pretty much any requirements or any size of group from work events to birthdays and hen nights. You can even have the party in your home or office, courtesy of their mobile cocktail bar.

And some of this experience might even remain in the morning. I’ve learned about techniques such as free pouring and layering, and also a little about the history of the drink, such as how cocktails became popular in depression-era America as a way of sweetening the taste of rough bootleg alcohol. This process gave us such legendary variations as the Manhattan and the Bellini. Stevens may be here to educate us, but he is well aware what appeals most about the evenings. ‘Number one, it’s the alcohol,’ he concedes. ‘But people also love learning about cocktail-making techniques. Often the participants are able to go home with skills and tricks they can use at their own cocktail parties to impress their friends.’

Well, perhaps. It’s funny how your memory fades after just a few wee drinks. What was in my own masterpiece I’ll never know, but it was fun putting it together.

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