Last night, as part of a combined farewell (me) and welcome (other people) I joined my Research Africa ex-colleagues at Shaker to learn cocktail-making skills under the expert tutelage of professional bartenders Anil and Fran. I am now back at COSMO doing some in-house work for the magazine and we're on deadline, so I arrived late, but fortuitously just in time for the perfect pink cosmo demonstration. I downed my obligatory penalty "you are late" shot (I can't remember* what it was but it included tequila and a hint of something chocolatey and was quite tasty) and then was immediately volunteered as a cosmo maker along with one of the other Research Africa staff members. I have no idea* of what I put in the drink, bar 1.5 shots of Absolute Kurant (my choice of vodka, as a taste experiment) and a squeezed wedge of lime, although I was guided through every step, but I recall shaking it vigorously and then bashing the shaker ineptly, and I did pick up some marvellous skills that incorporate a lighter and orange peel. I'll have to email Shaker to find out the rest of the steps*.
After my debut the demonstrations of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails continued, and Fran offered to make me my choice of drink but, as some of you know, options bring me to a standstill (and what do you pick when you have the choice of everything?) so I let her choose, based on my narrowed down preferences of "sweet" and "citrus". I don't know* what I ended up with, but it incorporated rum, I believe, and apple and peach, among other ingredients, and it was very, very good.
Once we were all suitably animated it was off to the "flair room", where we learnt the first five moves of a six-move bottle flair (the sixth move requires flipping a bottle balanced on the back of your hand so you can pour a shot into a glass, and is beyond the capabilities of a normal human being). We were then given a presentation of all sorts of flairs most of us will never be able to do involving lots of spinning bottles and shakers, and shots being poured, which was very impressive.
Then we had our parting shot - for the non alcoholics it was an amazing concoction that tasted like Turkish delight, and for the rest of us it was a simple shot that incorporated Frangelico, something* (liqueur based) (or somethings*), and Amarula, which tasted like peanut butter and jam.
Shaker BarSchool is at 19 Dorp Street and besides training bartenders it can happily handle corporate events, weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, bachelor parties, and hen nights. There's also a mobile van so if you can't get to them the bartenders will come to you, fully stocked. Just watch where you throw those practice bottles.
*This is what happens to me when I don't write down everything in my notebook, and this is why I almost always write down everything in one of my notebooks.**
**Also, um, I was distracted by cocktails.