Boys-only cocktail classes
Paul Dale discovers that Cosmopolitans aren’t just for Sex and the City girls, when he takes a boys-only cocktail class in the capital
‘If you want an interesting party sometime,’ the American novelist Robert Fulghum quipped, ‘combine cocktails and a fresh box of crayons for everyone.’ Today I’m doing the next best thing: I’m joining a cocktail class aimed at getting men back into the business of shaking and sipping. It’s led by Ross, the improbably handsome 20-something Oxford graduate who manages the bar at The Living Room on Edinburgh’s George Street. The class takes place in front of, behind and to the side of the dark wood, waist high bar, which is equal parts New York long bar and faux Scottish classicism.
We start with a history lesson. It turns out that nobody really knows the true origin of the cocktail but it could either have something to do with refreshments imbibed as part of cock-fighting traditions, or the prudent use of leftover ale and damp sugar. Thankfully the cocktails we are going to make today bear little resemblance to these early prototypes, which were generally imbibed in the morning as a hangover cure.
Today we will be attempting to make three classic cocktails: a Mojito, a Cosmopolitan and a Basil Grande (The Living Room’s signature cocktail). With the patience of a primary school teacher Ross talks us through the lime squeezes, the slapped mint leaves, raucous shaking and high pouring of delirious quantities of undiluted spirit. The students’ cocktails look nothing like his, but after a few slugs of each, no one is talking aesthetics anymore.
As everyone begins to relax Ross chats to me about his passion for cocktails and this newly established cocktail class. With tough new government legislation on drinking establishments that encourage binge drinking, our teacher is at great pains to point out that the classes are not about brokering a deal with Bacchus. He says, ‘The thing for me and all the staff here is to educate and entertain about alcohol in a safe and respectful environment. I consider Edinburgh to be one of the most walkable cocktail capitals in the world at the moment; the demand for good cocktails made with the best products has never been higher in this city and we are just trying to play our responsible part by showing the mechanics that go into the making one.’ It would appear there is a shaker revival afoot.
Cocktail Masterclass, The Living Room, Edinburgh, second Tuesday of every month from 6.30pm, £25 each. O870 44 22 805, www.thelivingroom.co.uk.