Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Out and about: Quirky Cocktail masterclass at Harvey Nichols

Last Sunday, at 9.25am, after a night bopping at Lady Gaga you would be forgiven for thinking that you’d find me snuggled up in bed. In actual fact you would have found me loitering outside the staff entrance of the Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor Bar with my lovely Disney Princesses waiting for our cocktail masterclass, a birthday present/experience for Claire from Katy and me.

Our homemade voucher for Claire
  Because the restaurant opens a bit later on a Sunday we couldn’t walk through the store (probably a good thing!) so we were ushered through the staff entrance by the guy that turned out to be our masterclass tutor, Stani, up to the Fifth Floor and in to the rather lovely bar area. Hot pink and lime green is now my favourite colour combination. We had it entirely to ourselves for a few minutes and it felt like we were behind the scenes on a TV show or backstage at the theatre so I’m not going to lie, we got a bit over excited we took advantage and posed like idiots all over the chaise lounges and bar stools. Not cool. Was fun.

Eventually we all settled down, helped ourselves to the pastries, ordered some teas and coffees from the waiter that, embarrassingly, appeared from nowhere and waited for the other participants to arrive.

Once we were all assembled we discovered that the rest of the group consisted of four couples on dates – what is it with my mates and I choosing activities that others choose to do with their significant others?  Awkward!

Anyway, Stani commenced his briefing, including caveats such as “if I get too much for you, you must tell me to stop” and it became clear that we were in for a fun-filled morning. Even before the alcohol he had us sniggering like naughty school girls and crying with laughter in our breakfast booth. Just what you want on a special Sunday morning date – three giggly drunk girls heckling the tutor!
We then made our way to the bar (diamante studs, white leather and pink neon lights – sounds hideous, looks amazing) to our lecture stations, complete with name plates, note paper, recipe lists and pens, and Stani talked us through some cocktail making essentials, namely picking high-quality spirits, working with the best tools, selecting superior fruit juices and mixers and understanding the right methods for preparing the drink.

Cocktail Kings!
A few demonstrations of equipment usage, a sniff of this that and the other, a quick taste test or four and then we were in to our first of the Quirky Cocktails on the list: the Pink Chelsea. I won’t spill the story as to how and why this got its name, but I will tell you that with all the lovely ingredients I knew it was going to be a good one, but it’s very probably my new favourite cocktail. Definitely one I’ll be making at home.

Pink Chelsea. Super yum!
Before we had a chance to finish it the second cocktail demonstration was well underway.  The Rocker Margarita was an intriguing take on the classic margarita flavours with the addition of rocket leaves. Sounds weird, tastes YUM!

The third item on our cocktail menu was another interesting one, entitled the Limousine. If the Pink Chelsea was a refreshing appetizer, and the rocker margarita was a sweet and savoury salad-y drink (weird but wonderful), this was definitely pudding! A creamy cocktail with a palate-cleansing shot of bubbly on the side was a great way to end.

After the three demonstrations we then had the opportunity to get behind the bar one or two at a time and make like Tom Cruise. After a quick safety briefing (i.e. don’t shake like a nutter and knock over our VERY expensive bottles!) and a few hilarious stories about some minor behind-the-bar disasters, Stani and his lovely assistant Chris asked us individually about our favourite drinks, what kind of things we had in our cupboards and what kinds of flavours we liked and then we went on to make a variety of different cocktails. Some of us went for classics, some made bespoke drinks and some of us were inspired by the bar’s own cocktail menu.

Mixing it up!
We all know how I love a Cosmopolitan but I also wanted to try something different, so in the end we went for a Cosmo with a twist: a little dash of egg white to give it a creamy finish, which was a nice change. Everyone made something different so we had great fun wandering the bar (because now, after five or so cocktails we were all besties!) sampling each other’s concoctions.

A short de-brief and a quick re-group where we swapped recipes and we were showed through to the restaurant for a quick, light lunch.

It was a two course set menu which started with a seriously tasty tomato soup, and was followed by a creamy chicken and sweetcorn risotto. Which, was perfect for sobering us up slightly!

Stani presented us with our personalised certificates once we were finished at which point the course came to a close.

Obviously we took ourselves back to the bar to sample a few more delights from the cocktail list and then by about 3.00pm we were ready to leave for some serious sofa surfing.

At about 10pm that night my hangover kicked in.

Click here for more details and to book. I recommend that you do!

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