Cocktail Classes


The well-made cocktail is one of the most gracious of drinks. It pleases the senses. The shared delight of those who partake in common of this refreshing nectar breaks the ice of formal reserve. Taut nerves relax; taut muscles relax; tired eyes brighten; tongues loosen; friendships deepen; the whole world becomes a better place in which to live.” David A. Embury The Fine Art Of Mixing Drinks, 1948

Spirited Tales offers a number of cocktail classes. Whether you want to learn more about your favourite drink, journey to a specific period in the history of cocktails, learn how to make drinks based on your favourite liquor or just learn about the creative processes involved in creating your own cocktails, Spirited Tales can tailor a cocktail class to you. You can elect to have Spirited Tales come to you at your home or workplace or we can accommodate groups at one of our partner venues. We use the finest ingredients to show you the thing of beauty that a cocktail can be, and how to craft such a magnificent libation yourself.

The Cocktail Classes (click to expand)

Shaken Not Stirred - All About Martinis

The most famous of all cocktails is very easy to make, and extraordinarily difficult to perfect. It can be made with gin or vodka; garnished with olives, lemon zest, cocktail onions or anchovy stuffed olives; made with almost no dry vermouth, lots of it, or historically even using sweet vermouth. You will also learn what shaking and stirring are all about and when it is appropriate to use either.

Martini Class

Prohibition may have popularised the martini, but 007 gave it longevity

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Hemingway to Slushy Machine - The Rise and Fall of the Daiquiri

Of all the concoctions containing rum, lime and sugar, the daiquiri is the most etherial. What started life as the most timeless and perfectly balanced sour cocktail and the first one served frozen now often finds itself shoved unceremoniously in the back of a van in a slushy machine; an egregious mixture of artificial colours and flavours bearing almost no resemblance to the original. This is partly because the daiquiri was adapted to the brash excesses of the 1980s by becoming a seriously fruity version of itself. At Spirited Tales we’re happy to embrace the pastel coloured good times of the fruity 80s daiquiri, but we draw the line at the party van style!

Hemingway Daiquiri

Hemingway contemplates the future of the Daiquiri

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The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks - Highly Opinionated Recipes from the Mid 20th Century

In 1948, David A. Embury, an attorney from New York with no experience in the liquor industry of any kind, published one of the great books on cocktail making The Fine Art Of Mixing Drinks. He is highly opinionated, to the extent that he discards vast portions of the world of cocktails in favour of only two categories: aromatic and sour. His contention is that a cocktail “should be taken before a meal and as a stimulant to the appetite” and so he summarily dismisses “a host of over-sweetened, over-fruit-juiced, over-egged, and over-creamed concoctions”. His theories and ratios for the types of cocktails he does endorse are absolutely wonderful, however. So for lovers of cocktails that actually taste like liquor, and sours that are actually sour, The Fine Art Of Mixing Drinks Cocktail Class will help you to apply Embury’s wisdom.

The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David A. Embury
The Fine Art Of Mixing Drinks by David A. EmburyBook It

Umbrellas and Mai Tais - A Tropical Tiki Adventure

When Ernest Gantt of New Orleans returned from a long trip encompassing the Caribbean, and parts of Australia and the South Pacific in 1932. He settled in Los Angeles and opened a very small bar decorated with various artefacts and knick-knacks he had brought home with him from his journey. In keeping with the tropical paradise theme, he made his drinks from juices and various types of rum (rum was also one of the cheapest liquors available at the time). He named the bar Don The Beachcomber and it was soon the toast of Hollywood. Soon after, Trader Vic’s was opened in Oakland. When the second world war ended, returned soldiers brought with them tales of the South Pacific and tiki bars sprung up by the thousands. If you’ve ever tasted an innocuous, sugary Mai Tai, or a Zombie indistinguishable from cordial, let us show you just how good Tiki can be.

Tiki cocktail classes

Behold, a Don The Beachcomber franchise in all its glory

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Gimme Some Sugar - After Dinner Cocktails

There was a time that sweet and fruity or sweet and creamy drinks were likely to be found at afternoon tea with cake, or after dinner. Sugar and cream, however, have an unmatched ability to smooth out the rough edges of strong liquor. You can drink a couple of these cocktails without even knowing you’ve been drinking…until you try to stand up! That said, there’s a world of difference between a well-crafted sweet cocktail and a poor one. This cocktail class will teach you to tame the saccharine beast.

A sweet and creamy cocktail under a microscope

A sweet and creamy cocktail under a microscope

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Daisys, Fizzes and Fixes - Cocktails of the Nineteenth Century

Mixed drinks had certainly been known prior to the nineteenth century, but they took on a new level of sophistication and social currency in the gentlemen’s clubs of London, then the fine bars of New York. The word cocktail emerged in this era, as did highball, mixologist and even martini by the end of the century. Whilst we can only guess at the actual flavours of the bitters, liquors and cordials available to, or manufactured by the bartenders of the day, we can have a lot of fun trying!

19th Century Cocktail Class

Jerry Thomas, darling of arm-garter wearing bartenders

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Seven of the Best - History's Most Influential Cocktails

Come on a greatest hits instruction on five, seven, or ten of the most influential cocktails ever mixed. It is also something of a tour through the history of cocktails, beginning with the old fashioned, once known simply as a cocktail, and taking in the martini, negroni, and daiquiri, then into modern times with the now ubiquitous espresso martini. Options include the Bloody Mary, Manhattan, Bellini, Cosmopolitan, and Whisky Sour. Designed to teach you all round chops with the most classic of cocktails.

The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven

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Choose Your Own Adventure

If we haven’t covered your favourite drink or time period above, this cocktails class is designed for you, or rather, you design it. If you love the Japanese slippers, Cosmopolitans and Multiple Orgasms of the 80s, we can help. If you are fascinated by the Margarita, or can’t get enough of Champagne Cocktails or Highballs or Singapore Slings, we can design a class around you. This class can also be adapted to teach you how to mix your own cocktails from scratch, the techniques and principles that will allow you to create in almost any circumstance with any liquor.