The class was taught by the Libations Bar School and held at The Spice & Tea Exchange, a national chain located in Georgetown.
There's our instructor. He started things off by explaining the basic approach and some general concepts.
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.
Here's Michael sniffing some bittering agent. Hops, maybe? Or perhaps wormwood? Could have been burnt wood chips? I don't remember.
Here's our little group (these girls were strangers to us, but they were pretty awesome strangers), gingerly displaying our creation with pride.
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?!
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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