This topic is for planning and executing cocktail workshops. I have worked in education for decades, have designed and facilitated hundreds of workshops for adult learners on a variety of subjects. However, the food and drink workshops I've facilitated have been small, in-home affairs for friends and friends-of-friends. As a result, while I'm confident about the basics of a well-organized two-hour workshop, I'm also sufficiently experienced to know that cocktails present their own set of unique issues.
To frame the discussion, let me tell you about the crowd we're likely to get. RI has largely missed the cocktail revolution in this country. (I can produce an arms-length list of complaints, but here's a useful case in point: at a newly opened "cocktailian" bar in town, I watched in awe as the owner/bartender shook my Manhattan with wet ice for 30 vigorous seconds.) The workshop would thus start with cocktail basics -- ingredients, technique, and a few base recipes -- and then, should there be interest, proceed as a themed series to be determined.
The workshops would be targeted at the home cocktailian who desires to learn about, taste, and create mixed drinks that will be superior to any served in RI. Buzz suggests that a few working bartenders might also be interested, but I think that we can assume that everyone would benefit from an overview/review of the basics and proceed from there. We've got the PR/media angle covered and have already started exploring retail liquor store links.
So I'm hoping to gain some ideas about the workshops themselves. I have an existing workshop that I've used to good effect and can revise to suit this session. I've learned a few lessons so far as well:
- You can't have too many glasses, straws, napkins, fruit, or garnishes.
- It's really easy to panic as your ice melts and drinks get crappier, so have a plan for access to lots of good, very cold ice.
- If you bring it, your favorite cocktail glass will be broken. Trust me on this one.
- Straw tastes in shot glasses are a great way for people to experience a variety of one type of booze, opening people's eyes to the differences between products and keeping them relatively sober.
- Participation is a mixed blessing. It's fine for participants to do tricks like flaming orange peels or practice stirring technique, but full-on drink-making is best left to the very end -- and they need their own equipment.
- Advocating for selection really makes a difference on the shelves, especially if you have good numbers and help people see the win/win for both participants and stores.
- When someone starts talking about industry-based marketing workshops, run in the opposite direction. You can swing a stick and hit a bartender running a Diageo-sponsored event; rare is the workshop devoted to the craft and not the brand.