Whirlydoodle made an appearance by day. (Grr.)
Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings graciously offered me admission to one of her upcoming classes and I was delighted to attend one of her cocktail classes, called “Serious Tiki Drinks.” The class was held at Ravens Club, which is closed on Mondays, so we had the whole place to ourselves.
Consistent with the “tiki” theme, attendees were “lei’d” upon entering Ravens Club and given a mini tiki mug filled with a welcome cocktail – the Scorpion, a refreshingly slushy, citrusy, orange drink made with rum.
We were seated at a table for four and were joined by another pair of attendees for the evening. At each place setting were tasting sheets and a tiki drink recipe sheet. We also had a few salty nibbles at our table, and the ingredients and barware necessary for drink mixing later in the class.
To begin, we each got to taste five different rums, some light, some darker, and all from different countries. My favorite was the El Dorado 5 Year (demerara rum), from the nation of Guyana, which had a slightly smoky, burnt flavor.
During and after tasting each of five rums, Tammy gave a brief history of the liquor.
Next, it was time to mix our own tiki drinks! Each of about five tables had a set of ingredients for making drinks using the recipes on our recipe card.
I was our table’s mixologist for most of the evening.
For our first drink, each table mixed the same tiki drink – a Mai Tai – except each table used a different combination of rums.
We then got to travel around to each of the tables and try the Mai Tais (Using a clever little method in which a straw is plunged into the cocktail, cover straw opening with a finger, then remove the straw, and drink! Just get a fresh straw for each taste!).
We then proceeded to mix three additional tiki drinks, including:
- Ancient Mariner – rum-based cocktail with citrus and allspice dram, which added a very interesting warm spicy flavor to the icy drink.
- Test Pilot – rum-based cocktail with citrus, falernum (sweetener with lime zest, cloves), Angosturo bitters, and a mere six drops of Pernod which added a mild anise flavor.
- Saturn – gin-based tiki drink with lemon, passion fruit syrup, orgeat (sweet almond syrup), and more falernum <—my favorite tiki drink!
The class was super fun! I loved how very hands-on the entire event was. We got to sample and smell several rums, mix several of our own cocktails in a shaker with ice, and taste them all. We also received a lot of information on the history of rum, as well as learn about many new ingredients that can potentially be made fairly easily at home, including allspice dram and orgeat.
After leaving the class, I definitely felt far more confident about my ability to go home and experiment with my own tiki drinks, whose recipes sometimes appear complicated (with a dozen or more ingredients on occasion!), but really are not, once you have a few basic ingredients and the knowledge to mix them properly. The class size (about 20) was just right – enough people for a lively atmosphere, but not so large that the class loses it’s ability to be interactive and hands-on.
I’m really happy that I was able to attend Tammy’s Serious Tiki Drinks cocktail class! Apparently her this class was so popular that she is now hosting the same class again this upcoming Monday, March 19 (more info here). Also, different cocktail classes are typically hosted monthly by Tammy at Ravens Club in Ann Arbor (info here), as well as other workshops and classes around town.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend one of these fun classes. It would make a fun date or girls’ night!
My only critique is that the class price is a tad high, but the quality and quantity of cocktails participants receive during the highly interactive class does balance that out a bit.
After dinner another whirlydoodle made an appearance by night. It’s an epidemic!