Broadening Our Infusion Horizons

Groupon and Living Social are constantly offering classes and other experiential deals here in DC.  In concept, I'm always intrigued, but we never seem to jump on them in time.  Recently, we got ourselves in order and committed to a bitters-making class, which we went to last week.  I snapped a few pictures.

The class was taught by the Libations Bar School and held at The Spice & Tea Exchange, a national chain located in Georgetown.  

Bitters Class 1Bitters Class 2

There's our instructor.  He started things off by explaining the basic approach and some general concepts.
Bitters Class 3

After the didactic portion of the lesson, we split into small groups to create our own little combinations, which involved us perusing the shop, exploring and tasting.  Pretty fun, actually.
Bitters Class 5

Here's Michael sniffing some bittering agent.  Hops, maybe?  Or perhaps wormwood?  Could have been burnt wood chips?  I don't remember.
Bitters Class 6

Here's our little group (these girls were strangers to us, but they were pretty awesome strangers), gingerly displaying our creation with pride.
Bitters Class 7

And there it is now.  We decided to go with something spicy but with hints of floral, smokey notes.  Who knows what it'll taste like (and we may never find out), but it was at least loosely inspired by a gin fizz that I had recently at a local favorite, Rasika.  It was floral and herbal and spicy and delicious.  I can't explain it, but believe me.  Anyway, this probably won't taste anything like that.  But...what if it did?!
Bitters Class 8

The concept is actually pretty simple.  You infuse flavors -- including at least one bittering agent -- into overproof alcohol (like Everclear) for a few weeks.  Strain out the alcohol.  Soak the solids in an amount of water about 1/4 the volume of alcohol.  Strain and combine with the alcohol.  You can find recipes and instructions all over the internet (example, example, example).

I think the best part of the class was approaching it from a generic perspective -- learning the basic concept rather than a prescribed recipe -- and then customizing from there.  The great thing about bitters is that a little goes a long way, so I can only imagine how many batches you could experiment with with a handle of Everclear, a handful of herbs, and some edibles lying around the kitchen.  As beginners, our instructor suggested making separate infusions for each of the flavors and then mixing them together to taste later, which I thought was an incredibly helpful tip.

Anyway, I'm sure this means that we'll be trying our hand at some of these in the near future. What's next?! Homemade sodas?  Michael has already nixed that.  He's probably right, but he says we have no room for that kind of thing.  We'll see.  We'll see...

Have you tried any classes or new hobbies lately?

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  1. Have you guys been to The Columbia Room inside The Passenger yet? Go! No really, GO. They have classes, too...

  2. this looks so fun! it seems like the only groupons that make it to my inbox are of the hair removal/fat reduction/medical spa variety. not that i'm not tempted.

  3. Question from casual Denver: Did they tell you to dress up? You guys all look way cuter than anyone would here.

    1. Ha, no! It was right after work, so this is our work attire.

  4. Mandy, your bag is amazingly cute! Is that fossil?

  5. I was definitely going to comment on Smell's attire, but a reader seems to have beat me to it! haha!

    You guys are such sophisticated liquor connoisseurs.


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