Between office parties and awkward family encounters, it's always best to approach the holiday season with a tasty drink in hand, the stiffer the better. Luckily, the expert mixologists at the Cocktail Club are always generous with their recipes and methodology, and we stopped by on Saturday for a crash course in holiday cocktails.
The Cocktail Club's staff regularly hosts cocktail classes for $35, which is a good value for two hours of education, entertainment, and enough booze to require a designated driver. CC's new general manager Jackson Holland led Saturday's class, assisted by a handful of staffers. About a dozen thirsty students sat behind a long table in front of a bar, each armed with a small booklet of recipes and tips.
We were welcomed with some snacks and a sweet bourbon holiday punch (recipe below). Holland then took us through four more seasonally inspired recipes, allowing us to watch him create each drink and then passing around servings for each of us to try. "My Favorite Fall Cocktail," a bourbon-based apple-flavored drink, was among our favorites, while an as-yet-unnamed pine-flavored gin cocktail made us wince (our classmate loved it, though). He also mixed up a margarita-esque blend of blanco tequila, pear juice, and agave, then finished off the class with the "One Night Yam," a combination of sweet potato puree, Kracken black rum, Benedictine, and half and half topped with a toasted marshmallow. Yum.
Holland peppered his cocktail-mixing with tips for making holiday cocktails, including a recipe for Christmas Simple Syrup — simple syrup with nutmeg and cinnamon — that can give a holiday flair to any drink. He suggested ingredients like cranberries, beets, blood oranges, rosemary, and peppermint to help give a cocktail a more seasonal taste.
Although we didn't get to make every drink ourselves as we'd expected, Holland eventually set us free on the bar to create our own concoctions using our newly acquired knowledge. Although our creative capabilities were a bit muddled after all of the cocktails we'd already enjoyed, Holland and co. were quick to assist with any questions.
To find out more about the Cocktail Club's upcoming classes, go to thecocktailclubcharleston.com — we hear there's hangover cure class in the works.
My Old Favorite Fall Cocktail
1.5 oz. bourbon
.5 oz. Averna
.5 oz maple syrup
.75 oz lemon juice
2 oz. apple juice
2 dashes Fee Bros. barrel-aged bitters
Shake over ice and strain. Garnish with an apple slice and cinnamon dusting.
One Night Yam
1.5 oz. Krecken black rum
.5 oz. Benedictine
1 oz. sweet potato puree
.5 oz. half and half
Shake over ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with roasted marshmallow.
1 cup bourbon
.5 cup pomegranate liqueur
.5 cup ginger liqueur
less than .25 cup simple syrup
1 cup pomegranate juice
.5 bottle prosecco
Blend together and garnish with sliced oranges.