In the early years of our nation’s history, our forefathers began their day not with coffee, but with alcohol.
Largely a survival mechanism due to the questionable nation of water in colonial times, there remain moments when it is truly more enjoyable to start your day with some bubbly as opposed to beans.
The Cocktail Club downtown provides such valuable example with the All Things Bubbly Class! held on Saturdays. With bartender Ryan and company you’re in good hands to learn how excellent libations are made.
As with all celebrations, the event started with a champagne cocktail. This variant included a lemon twist garnish, resulting in a light and delicious concoction mixing champagne and sugar cubes.
Ryan then continued the party with a delightful and colorful cocktail named Pass the Mead. There’s a neat aspect to this: crushed ice! It’s optional, but Ryan’s version contained 50% of crushed ice, which blended well with the mead, Prosecco, and Peychard’s Bitters. The drink reminded me of when I first tasted Firefly’s Sweet Tea vodka: I had to stop myself before one became one too many. It’s that tempting.
Throughout these events light refreshments are served. I enjoyed the cheese and meats selection, and appreciated that they provided us water and soda for me. It’s rare that I drink more than one drink at a time, so I was in danger of letting loose.
After a brief break, Ryan provided us with the hit of the event: Tepache. It’s a mildly-alcoholic pineapple wine that’s made with only a few ingredients, and as Ryan explained, a little patience. Read: a few days.
But it’s worth it. Keeping with the theme of little effort and time, the Tepache—already made (it can take up to FIVE days)—was served in ziplock bags. No matter the method served, Tepache must always include two ingredients: pineapple and piloncillo—unrefined cane sugar. A fun fact: those at my table remarked that once the tepache had sit for a few minutes it possessed a banana taste. Perhaps this is a new way to receive potassium?
Keeping in tone with light and fun drinks, we were treated to a staple drink: the French 75. The drink dates to World War I, and its combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun. I think it was due to other drinks being served, because this one didn’t kick me around at all. In fact, it reminded me of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, another drink that could be easily downed and reordered before realizing the alcohol had sunk in. Gin, lemon juice, and syrup was good, but I was more intrigued by the history than the drink.
Finally, the last and most intriguing drink: the Paloma. Tequila, grapefruit soda, and other ingredients create an exotic tasting mixture that drew rave reviews for its taste and look. It’s a bit of a hard drink to intake after 4 rounds of lighter ones, but still was my second favorite of the day. It’s definitely an acquired taste but worth it.
These classes are a must for those visiting Charleston or wanting to learn more about the process in making divine beverages for hosting events. There were obvious favorites, but nothing that wasn’t worth the experience. Cocktail Club’s tasting classes offer a rewarding experience to view the club, and learn from its wise staff who no doubt have memorable stories to tell.
40z Champagne, chilled
1 sugar cube
3-4 dashes bitters, Angostura, Peychaud's etc
Glass: Champagne flute
Add sugar and bitters to glass. Top with Champagne and garnish with an optional lemon twist
Pass The Mead:
1oz Mead (Chaucer's)
5 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
1 strawberry, muddied
Garnish: 1 mint bouquet, 1/2 strawberry
Muddle strawberry with the mead in the glass. Fill glass 3/4 full with crushed ice.
Pour in Prosecco. Top glass with crushed ice. Add the bitters, mint, and 1/2 strawberry.
The fruit of 1 pineapple, smashed or chopped finely
1/2 kilo of piloncillo, or 1 poiund of brown sugar
1 piece of cinnamon
Water to cover all ingrediants
Optional: 3 organic peaches, plums, or grapes that have not been washed.
The film on the outside of the fruit will aid fermentation.
Combine all ingredients in a large ceramic, glass, or food-grade bucket. Cover with a cloth and let sit for 2 days.
After 2 days, use a cheese cloth or fine colander to strain out the fruit and spices.
Let the liquid sit for one more day.
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
2oz blanco or reposado tequila
1/2 oz lime juice
1 pinch salt
Glass: Rocks or Highball
Garnish: lime wedge, wheel, or twist
Method: Pour tequila and lime juice into a glass. Add salt and fill glass with ice.
Top with grapefruit soda and garnish.