Behind the Bar: A Cocktailing Experience

It’s clear to anyone that Tom and I love a great cocktail, however when it comes to making one at home, we pretty much stick to the basics; gin or vodka mixed with soda. If we want to get fancy we’ll throw in a lemon or lime and maybe a sprig or two of the current herb that’s struggling to stay alive on our windowsill. Lately we’ve been on a wine kick with our monthly wine club subscription so the cocktails have taken a back seat.

I’m pretty sure that we would get to drink these cocktails

We noticed via social media that one of our favorite local bars, Velveteen Rabbit, located on Main Street in downtown Las Vegas was going to host a weekly cocktail class. We definitely wanted to partake since A) we love cocktails, B) we love going to Velveteen Rabbit, and C) I’m pretty sure that we would get to drink these cocktails.

We showed up right on time and were greeted by the lovely Dylag sisters, Pamela and Christina, who always greet us with a smile. They can make an awesome cocktail, and oh yeah, did I mention they own the place too? Our class was intimate with two other couples which made it perfect, any more people and I feel like the experience would have been diluted with one on one time perfecting the cocktails we were making. The class consisted of us creating 3 classic cocktails; French 75, Whiskey Sour and one of my all time favorites, an Old Fashioned. We first watched Pamela and Christina demonstrate on how to create the cocktail along with a brief history on the drink and then one by one went behind the bar to recreate what we had just learned.

In pictures we look cool, sophisticated, like we knew what we’re doing, in reality we were laughing, getting confused on which end of the jigger to use and shaking that cocktail shaker like we were trying to revive Old Yeller.

The French 75 was surprisingly easy, even though I already knew what went into it, again, anything more than 2 ingredients and I usually tag out and pop open a bottle of wine and call it a day.

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The Whiskey Sour was explained to us and we were given the option to either serve it in a coupe or on the rocks- I chose the coupe. This was my favorite drink to make in the class because it involved making wonderful frothy egg whites and getting creative with the aromatic bitters for decoration.

Finally the Old Fashioned. I have been ordering this drink as my go to, sophisticated, all around amazing cocktail for years now. I love holding that heavy rocks glass and hearing the one large ice cube clink around in the glass when you go to drink it. This was the only cocktail that did not require shaking, but stirring. I used to twirl baton as a little girl so I figured I got this in the bag. Well, it’s more about twirling the bar spoon in-between your fingers then some good wrist action, so I stumbled a bit but a few twirls around the glass and I was getting the hang of it. Twirl on!

Even though we made the cocktails that were prescribed to us, Pamela and Christina let us experiment with variations to these cocktails by using different bitters and talking about switching out different herbs and how the herbs would affect the flavor profile. I decided to stick with the recipe but Tom used Aztec Chocolate bitters in his whiskey sour – it turned out delicious and gave it a rich warm flavor, great for the colder weather.

We thoroughly enjoyed taking this class and if they change up the cocktail list later on will definitely be back. Even though our bar is fully stocked, now we feel we can utilize our ingredients more and cannot wait to create some cocktails. Now that we’re more confident in creating some classics we just need to work on our cocktail shaker face, one that exudes confidence, and not the look of having a stroke.