Is it Worth It? The Exploratorium’s Science of Cocktails

Welcome back to Is it Worth It?, a series covering Bay Area cocktail events and opportunities!

The Science of Cocktails fundraiser for the Exploratorium

We’re coming up on the Exploratorium’s annual Science of Cocktails fundraiser, a glittering social affair whose ticket price may well inspire the average drinker to ponder “Is it worth it?”

Wonder no more, for I, your average drinker, have opinions.

My general rule of thumb is that for $100 and northwards, value is essential.  Facile as that sounds, think about what’s on offer around here. Most one-time classes run well under $100 (with the exception of Future Bars’ Beverage Academy, whose class descriptions don’t reveal much about the price/value ratio). It’s far easier to drop a Benjamin on actual drinks or bottles than an event.

Right away the Science of Cocktails price point sticks out. At $150 per general admission ticket or $250 VIP, it’s not your average date night.

Peanut gallery, I hear you: “It’s the premiere fundraiser for the Exploratorium Labs, you cheap grump.” Yeah, yeah. Well, when non-profits and cocktails collide, my judgment is relevant, and I am banging my gavel on the Science of Cocktails.
Continue reading

The once and future cocktail class (reprise)

A Coupe Tales reader requested another round of Bay Area cocktail classes, and it’s a great time to revisit Bay Area options. This round of imbibulous education is for you, Glenn!

Nothing justifies a drink like a little simultaneous learning. May your cups and your brains never be empty.

Women Movers & Shakers: Spring Cocktails of the Farmers Market from CUESA
San Francisco, April 18, $65
If you don’t have your ticket, woe unto you and your unchecked FOMO. These are my favorite events: not classes, but highly educational if you make it so.

Forgotten Favorites Cocktail Workshop from Trader Vic’s
Emeryville, April 20, $65
It’s not the original Trader Vic’s location, but Emeryville lays an admirable claim to Trader Vic’s part in tiki history. Learn some obscure tiki drinks and go home with some swag!

ForageSF doesn’t have cocktail classes on the schedule but the keen Oakland spirits devotee will notice that sustainable seaweed foraging makes a fine gin.

Various classes from SFMixology
San Francisco, various dates, $199-$300
SFMixology offers intro-level courses that cover a broad range of spirits and topics, each ranging from two to six hours.

Agave and American whiskey from Bourbon & Branch’s Beverage Academy
San Francisco, April 24 and 30, $95 and $100
My line in the sand is that $100 is too much for a 101-level cocktail class. But two and a half hours from industry experts might tip the scales for you.

Various classes from The Cocktail Camp
San Francisco, various dates, $299-$499
The Cocktail Camp promotes a full-fledged bartender certification program, so classes are a series of progressive education rather than individual courses. They even offer mentoring and apprenticeships.

DIY Mixology: Limoncello, Atholl Brose, And Absinthe Infusions from WorkshopSF
SF Workshop, San Francisco, May 24, $48
Limoncello? A great skill to add to a drinkmaker’s repertoire. Absinthe? Well, making an abinsthelike infusion at home is pretty neat. But Atholl Brose is what really popped my cork. Atholl Brose (or Athol Brose) is an obscure Dickensian detail whose mysterious origins leave a lot of room for ingredient interpretation.

Also check out WorkshopSF’s Whiskey Picks Not Whiskey Dicks: Pickling With Beer And Booze class. May 25, $60.

Making Cocktail Syrups & Shrubs from Preserved
Oakland, June 10, $50
Syrups and shrubs are among the fastest ways to personalize cocktails at home. And bottles of house mixes can make you look like an alchemical wizard or a Betty Crocker.

Somm’s Class: Cocktails with a Twist from by CIA at Copia
Napa, June 20, $30
The Culinary Institute of America promises delicious spins on classic cocktails, and I feel that $30 is a very reasonable price to discover what mysteries they have in mind.

Is it worth it?: CUESA cocktails

Welcome to my new series: Is It Worth It?

The San Francisco Bay Area is f*#%ing expensive.  The U.S.’s most expensive rental market accordingly supports exorbitant fees for cocktail events, classes, and other entertainment.

Weighing cost against value is therefore as common as ordering a drink for the frugal cocktail enthusiast.

While I cannot personally investigate all options ($100 intro-level classes are out of my purview, for example) I am pleased to share my assessment of assorted classes and events.

Our inaugural event is one of my very favorites and its next iteration is coming up next week. Continue reading

The once and future cocktail class

The problem with mixology classes aimed at civilians is the proliferation of Cocktail 101-level information. Fortunately, the demand for ongoing education and the area’s niche expertise appear to be forcing the evolution of local classes. Options are definitely improving for scholarly cocktail enthusiasts.

Plan your cocktail education with these upcoming opportunities:

Make Your Own Bitters workshop at the Oaktown Spice Shop
Oakland, March 14, $30
Coupe Tales expects to be in attendance. Oaktown Spice Shop has long been cocktail friendly; they offer a kit to make your own tonic syrup.

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Foraged Cocktails Workshop from ForageSF, May 2015

Artisan Foraged Cocktails Class from ForageSF
Oakland, March 19th, April 2nd and April 16th, $75
I have attended one of these before and very much enjoyed the lecture on my own local ecosystem and incorporating wild flavors into my cocktails. I went home with locally-driven, handcrafted bitters that I still use to this day.

Cocktail class series at Two Sisters Bar & Books
Hayes Valley, SF, March 13 (gin), April 3 (springtime mixology), May 1 (tequila and mezcal), $85
Two Sisters doesn’t wear its bookish charm skin-deep (unlike Novela): it walks the walk with a regular book club. While my experience with Two Sisters tells me its cocktail classes will be thoughtful deep-dives, which hopefully helps justify the steep price tag.

Of note is that Two Sisters has announced it is closing this summer. These classes are the last ones you’ll be able to attend there. Continue reading