Best Places to Learn to Mix Your Own - 2011
By Lou Bustamante
If shaking a couple of mixing tins looks like fun or you simply want to learn to properly impress at your home bar, here are five places to discover the craft of making a perfect cocktail.
Bourbon & Branch Bartending Academy
501 Jones (at O'Farrell), 931-7292
A trailblazer renowned for its seriousness with cocktails and spirits, the academy hosts some of the most in-depth classes ($95) in S.F. Held on Mondays in newly opened bar the Wilson, the instruction ranges in focus from Scotch to basics and beyond, featuring some of the industry's best-known instructors.
The Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts
1161 Mission (at Seventh St.), Suite 120, 710-9053
With its focus on spirits and cocktail education, the center offers seminars, tastings, and hands-on education with a variety of events and price range. Past offerings started at $20 for some spirit seminars to $85 for the Mixology 101 and Advanced Mixology 102 series.
If you are serious about your produce and liquor, then Scott Beattie's farm-to-glass classes ($50) at the H2 hotel in Healdsburg and the S.F. Ferry Building are for you. Focusing on seasonal ingredients, Beattie covers spirits education and the basics of mixing drinks with recipes from his acclaimed book, Artisanal Cocktails.
1199 Valencia (at 23rd St.), 695-1199
Bar manager Ryan Fitzgerald offers spirit-specific classes ($85) designed to teach the use of the real tools and techniques employed at the acclaimed bar. A welcome cocktail and appetizers ease your nerves for the in-depth training in stirring, shaking, and drinking.
550 Geary (at Taylor), 775-5000
Located in the lobby of the Hotel Adagio, the bar has been offering free classes on the second Thursday of the month. Bar manager Kristin Almy leads the classes in making one classic cocktail and two original creations, using a different spirit brand for each class.