Cooking Experiences

A cocktail masterclass at Jake’s Bar

Every now and then you get presented with a unique opportunity to do something you have never done before. This happened to me recently when I was invited down to Jake’s Bar to take part in a private cocktail making masterclass with Dave, the manager, using Old Forester bourbon.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Jake’s Bar, it is on Call Lane and is set downstairs in a rather cool (and to be honest, far too trendy for me) set up that is perfect for groups of mates on a night out.

Having previously gone there quite a lot when I was younger, the experience brought back fond memories and I was pleased to see that while Jake’s remains a great watering hole, it still offers food.

Although the choice of food isn’t huge, Dave freely says that he would rather do one dish well rather than overdo it and create a sprawling and confusing menu which tastes average. In light of this, I’m pretty confident that the steak they offer will be decent stuff. For once, though, it wasn’t all about the food for me!

Dave kindly glossed over my cocktail ignorance and was a font of knowledge when it came to understanding bourbon and its complexities. He has done a fair amount of travelling to the distilleries in the USA and has an in-depth knowledge of the repeal laws and prohibition, so he was certainly the man to help inspire me to make a decent Old Forester cocktail!

After an excellent tasting session, Dave gave me some tips on how to get the balance of flavours right. Once this was done, the real action started as I watched, tried and learned as Dave created an Old Forester Bourbon Smash. I found out how much ice to use, the little tricks to get the drink remembered by the person drinking it, and where to position any garnish. This was so interesting and, to top it all off, the drink was pretty damn good too!

Following the initial masterclass, I had the pleasure of watching another Old Forester cocktail being created and was again really impressed with the knowledge and creativity on offer. After this, though, it was my go…

Dave invited me behind the bar and in the process I finally fulfilled a lifetime ambition of being the bartender (fortunately no unlucky customers became my test subjects!) as I attempted to create the Old Forester Bourbon Smash myself.

I had several realisations whilst standing behind the bar, the first being that I am simply not tall enough to be a bartender. There is also a lot of stuff behind the counter at a bar like Jake’s – clearly they know what they are doing!

With the guys all giving me tips and encouragement, my final attempt wasn’t too bad at all (really due to the advice I had received!) and I left feeling confident that I could go home and try to create my own Old Forester cocktail!

All in all, the experience at Jake’s was great fun and I will certainly be back to try their drinks again in the future!

This masterclass was provided free of charge by Jake’s Bar and Old Forester but all opinions here are my own.

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