I was lucky enough to attend a ‘Cocktail Masterclass’, held at the Winston Hills. Not being from the area, and given the night involved alcohol, I availed myself of public transport options and caught the bus from Wynyard. It was an easy trip, accompanied by reading a book made it quite pleasant and I was dropped right at the doorstep.
The Winston Hills is a large bistro style pub and has indoor (with wood fires) and ‘alfresco’ (yet covered) seating area, a sports bar and pokies lounge, it would suit a lot of guests. The class was run in the alfresco section. As I arrived, tables were already set up ready for the class with ingredients, alcohol already measured, shakers and accompaniments. Certainly looked classy to start!
Hosted by Michael Nouri, known as a ‘mixologist’, he had great knowledge and passion of all things cocktails. Michael instructed that there is no right and wrong way of making cocktails, as you can easily replace one spirit with another to make an entirely different drink. The key is having versatile ingredients.
Gone are the days where I used to buy passion pop, a cheap version of Malibu (bombora?), home brand pineapple juice and mix up a cocktail (or “punch”) in a bucket in my college dorm. Now, I am older, have a full time job and a lot more knowledge. I am prepared to have some cocktails at home that actually taste good!
As we arrived, we were met with a cocktail on arrival: a ‘Tom Collins” – a simple style drink that can use any base spirits. It was modelled on the 2-1-1 method (sour, sweet, soda). This was made with gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and soda. This particular one used a Spanish gin and served in a highball glass. Delicious and refreshing. This gave us a good idea of what ours were meant to be like.
We were then taught that cocktails could be “built, shaken or stirred”. Despite my years of drinking at college, I had only heard of stirred, and I am sure that was from James Bond. Thus, the night was based around this concept, learning to make these types. With 4 people in a group, the idea was to make 4 cocktails (make one each and share with the group). It began, I was the first cab off the rank, making the easiest one: an “El Diablo” – tequila, lime juice, crème de Cassis, ginger beer in a highball glass, filled with ice and garnished with a lime wedge. This was extremely easy, basically pouring the pre measured items in the glass. No shaking needed – it is an easy one to make at home.
Followed up by a coconut and ginger daiquiri – daiquiris are pretty standard drinks, but made with coconut water and faiernum syrup was extremely good and almost felt healthy! This one you just add to the shaker with a bit of ice and off you go.One of my all time favourite drinks is the espresso martini and I learnt something this time, add a touch of salt and coconut flakes to garnish and makes for a great version!
Finishing off the night was the men’s favourite drink; the old fashioned – bourbon, simple syrup, bitters, over ice and stirred with an orange twist.What a great opportunity to learn about how to construct some favourites and some inventions on the classics. It was well organized and taught effectively with a fun AND funny host.
Thanks to Amy and the Winston Hills for hosting us and keep an eye out for more events as they run a Phillip Shaw and Robert Oatley wine dinner and a whiskey masterclass. Check out their website and tickets to be purchased stickytickets.