Learn By Drinking: Upcoming Cocktail Classes in L.A.

Matt Biancaniello and other adult beverage experts share their secrets

Photograph by Caroline on Crack

For the intellectually curious, no doubt our How To Make Essential Cocktails series has merely whet your appetite to the possibilities of all that cocktail know-how can afford you. Apart from turning you into the life of a party, maybe you can use it to pick up chicks/dudes or even open your own bar. Whether using it for good or evil, if you’re looking to learn more and can’t wait to find out how to make the perfect Mai Tai (next up in the How-To series), there’s a BUNCH of cocktail classes available around town and they range from getting schooled by former Library Bar bartender Matt Biancaniello to learning avant-garde mixology to a committing to a pro-level drinks course. But the best part? Homework! (Five words I never thought I’d say.)


K&L Wines’ Culinary Cocktail Seminar with Matt Biancaniello ($20): Ever wonder how Matt Biancaniello (formerly of Hollywood Roosevelt’s Library Bar) creates mind-blowing farmers market-driven cocktails? Pick up some of his coveted tricks at this January 31st tasting and seminar where he features four of his wine-based cocktails and discusses his technique. Keep in mind, though, that since this isn’t a bar, full cocktails won’t be served. I know. Boo.

Hipcooks’ The Cocktail Party ($60): Cocktails are just part of the equation of a successful cocktail party according to Hipcooks, a cooking school with two locations in West L.A. and the Brewery Artists loft downtown. Grab an apron and learn how to not only make canapes like potato cakes with goat cheese and thyme but accompanying cocktails like the “Perfect Martini,” a “Ginger Lemon Drop” and an “Amaretto Sour.”

The Association’s Weekly Cocktail Class (Free): Every Wednesday, downtown bar The Association bartender Alexander Liberman walks students through the different aspects of the cocktail, from its design to recipe to its origins. Naturally, you get to taste every cocktail discussed. Since the class is interactive and in small groups, advanced registration is required.

Cocktail Fundamentals at SAAM ($75): The chef’s tasting room at Hotel SLS’s The Bazaar serves as the classroom for this high-end cocktail class led by head bartender Rob Floyd. Every first Sunday of the month, the boisterous Floyd takes his students through the cursory history and recipes of several cocktails. Extracurricular activities here include noshing on appetizers themed to go with this month’s lesson as well as sipping tasting flights. Extra credit: attendees get 25 percent off dinner after class. Since the classes tend to book up quickly, sign up ASAP for the upcoming sherry-focused ”Drinks of the Bacchus” class and March’s rum class which takes you from rum’s origins as “pirate juice” to its fancification in chef José Andrés’ Magic Mojito.

Hotel Bel-Air’s Mixology Class ($100): Your country club friends will get so jealous when you tell them about how you learned to make the cocktails created by Wolfgang Puck’s executive chef Lee Hefter in the elegant bar using Baccarat crystal glassware. This 60-minute class taught by the Bar at Hotel Bel-Air’s beverage director and/or lead bartender takes you through the basics of cocktail making, including techniques, ingredients and how to select proper barware.

Elemental Mixology Complete Drinks Course ($375-$400): How far are you prepared to take this cocktail thing? This intensive six-session course, which takes place in cocktail consultant Andrew Willett’s 200-square-foot home bar in his Craftsman house, aims to take you all the way, helping you develop an intimacy with drinks which surpasses that of simply memorizing recipes. Pros and cocktail enthusiasts alike book this class to learn everything from why different types of drinks require certain techniques to how to pair for service. And if your memory is not so good, the course comes with a 570-page book.

Sunset Marquis’ Bar 1200 Cocktail Lab ($45): For the ultimate date night or buddies’ night out, reserve a spot in this intimate six-person class where Sunset Marquis Bar 1200 bar manager Matt Salinas walks you through the “booze du jour” via a history lesson and hands-on cocktail making. Don’t fret if you’re bad at taking notes while buzzed—it happens—recipes will be emailed to you after the class.