Stepping behind a bar can be intimidating for those who have never worked in the service industry, but the desire to make, muddle, stir and shake up your very own cocktail is a common one. To a mixology novice, a bartender can seem like a magician — whipping up potent potions with a little shake here and a big stir there.
Ice or no ice? Stir or shake? Neat or on the rocks? Garnish or no garnish? There are so many decisions that must be made, it can seem daunting.
But thankfully, Jeptha Creed Distillery is now providing Mixology Classes for any and every skillset — as long as you’re at least 21 years old. Consider it research and development, because not only will you build two tasty cocktails from the ground … er, glass … up, you’ll also reap the benefits by enjoying them with your other classmates. It’s a unique option that Jeptha Creed is now offering for groups or individuals who might be looking to shake up a traditional distillery experience.
So what do these classes entail? Well, first you have to make a decision about which class to attend based on your preferred spirit preference: bourbon or vodka? If you lean more toward the clear spirit, then what the heck are you doing in Kentucky?! Only kidding. Jeptha Creed knows there’s room for everyone behind the bar, so whether you lean toward vodka or bourbon, you’re welcome at this distillery.
These Mixology Classes take place once a day on Fridays and Saturdays, with the vodka class at 2 p.m. followed by the bourbon class at 4 p.m. They last about an hour, and included in the price ($35) are the two cocktails plus your very own Jeptha Creed rocks glass as a saucy souvenir. If you’re taking the vodka class, you’ll be whipping up a Blueberry Bellini and Pumpkin Pie Martini (OK, that sounds amazing). And if you’re beholden to bourbon, then you’ll be making a Maple Bacon Old Fashioned and a Bourbon Sidecar.
For the sake of my own “research and development,” I decided to pop in Jeptha Creed a few weeks ago to observe a bourbon Mixology Class — and by “observe” I mean 100% participate and consume every last drop of both cocktails! It was truly a fun time for everyone involved, including our patient mixologist who led the session.
Each participant gets a set of shiny metal tools at his or her station, and although they seem complicated at first, the staff mixologist walks you through each and every one — how to use it, what it’s used for, the proper technique, etc. At each station also are the ingredients for both cocktails, an ice bucket, glassware and a bar mat. Seems simple enough, especially since the instructor leads you through each cocktail one step at a time.
First up was the Maple Bacon Old Fashioned made with Jeptha Creed Bourbon, a bacon-infused simple syrup and Ne Oublie Walnut Bitters. This one was pretty easy on the cocktail scale, but we did get to use a lot of cool tools. Basically, we just had to add the ingredients to our mixing glass, stir and then strain the concoction into a rocks glass filled with ice. The garnish included a Luxardo cherry that shared a stick with a tasty piece of maple-candied bacon. Mmm, bacon.
The second cocktail, the classic Bourbon Sidecar, was a little more fun to make because there was some vigorous shaking involved. Who doesn’t like to shake? The ingredients we used were Jeptha Creed Bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup and orange liqueur. This time, we combined all the ingredients into a shaker tin that contained a handful of ice cubes and then shook it until we could shake no more. We then strained the frothy liquid into a rocks glass over more ice and garnished with a lemon peel, which we cut ourselves from fresh lemons with a fancy zester tool.
By the end, I felt confident enough to make these two cocktails at home and perhaps tweak the recipes slightly to try different flavors. I may have to purchase a few tools for my home bar, but I’m determined to master the zester. Some distilleries have Master Tasters, but I don’t know of any who have a Master Zester. Goals!
For more information on Jeptha Creed’s Mixology Classes or to reserve a spot, click here.
Written By: Sara Havens | @barbelle_lou