The first Oxford Wine Club ‘fringe’ event was a very convivial evening held at Oxford Brookes Restaurant. The Master Class was led by Warren Lindsay, a Mixologist (yes, that's what they're called!) and our very own Michael Palij.
Michael explained that cocktails grew out of the Prohibition era in the States. The need to distil spirits in secret meant that all sorts of back-street operations started up producing poor quality drinks. To mask these unpleasant flavours, soft drinks were added and the cocktail was born, quickly spreading around the world.
The evening began with a blind-tasting of both colourless and artificially coloured spirits. Suitably chastened by our inability to distinguish between whisky, gin, vodka and brandy, we quickly moved in to the bar area to try the real thing, mixing and tasting cocktails. We each had a chance to mix one of six cocktails: Margarita, Martini, Piña Colada, Champagne cocktail, Cosmopolitan, and Old-fashioned, using the professional equipment of Mixologists under Warren's expert guidance.
Members mixed freely in the bar area, tasting and commenting on the results of each other's cocktail-making, which made for a very sociable, as well as an informative, evening. I now know that there is a world of difference, in both taste and appearance, between a Martini that is shaken and one that is stirred; the consensus was that James Bond was wrong, stirred tastes better than shaken!
Having been given the recipes for the cocktails, it's off to the wine merchant to get the ingredients!