Whether it’s a fun evening with friends, part of a hen do, birthday party or a way motivate employees, cocktail making is a fun experience, where people spend the event learning a new skill – the ageless art of cocktail making. Plus if it’s in a bar, there is the advantage that it’ll save you a fortune on an unstoppable bar tab!
Rather than starting from scratch, this post is a quick guide for anybody planning a cocktail making event.
1. Masterclass or cocktail party?
Do you want to be taught how to make cocktails, just try different cocktails, or something in between, such as demonstrations and then tastings? Personally, I think the more involvement the better. If guests leave the event knowing how to actually make one or two of their favourite cocktails then that’s a pretty cool new skill, which they can use at home.
2. Where are you organising the event?
There aren’t any set rules to this, but here are a few pointers:
In a cocktail bar
I think organising a cocktail making event in a cocktail bar (not a pub) is a really good option and the easiest. The venue is the theming for the event, they should have all the correct equipment and a wide range of ingredients to use, but the main advantage of doing a cocktail making event in a bar – is the bar! Pick a venue that has private bar in their function room (make sure you are allowed to use it) and it can be the main focal point of the event, where participants actually get behind a real bar whilst making cocktails. There really is something special about standing behind a bar and is also a great photo opportunity.
Planning a cocktail making event at home can involve a lot of work and if you’re not careful can cost the organiser a lot of money, especially on things like equipment. A way to save money, is to make a list of all the spirits you need, for the cocktails you want to make, and get everyone to bring a bottle and a plate (of party food) to the event – you’ll need to tell people what bottle to bring so that you have the correct ingredients.
Prepare as much as you can before the event, such as cutting lemons and limes, putting ice into buckets (tip: make sure you have a scope for the ice, otherwise people will use their empty glasses, and if one breaks whilst scooping for ice, the whole bucket is unusable) and ensure you have plenty of your base spirits (rum, vodka, whiskey) because they’re the ones you are going to use the most.
Mobile cocktail making supplier
An alternative way to organise this event is to get a mobile cocktail making supplier to come to you – and some of them will even bring a bar! Their services should include professional Mixologists to run the activity, all the equipment and the ingredients needed. Please note that some hotels and bars are understandably unhappy about other suppliers bringing their own alcohol onsite – so make sure you check this with them first, you may need to pay a corkage fee, but that’s better than the supplier being sent away on the day.
If the idea of searching, visiting, checking and comparing venues and mobile suppliers sounds like unnecessary hassle, you could get an event agency to organise this all for you. They should know all the best places in each city and have reliable suppliers that they have used in the past.
3. Food is essential!
It doesn’t need to be a three course meal – but everybody is going to be drinking so make sure food is served during the event.
4. Tasters rather than drinking whole glasses
Rather than participants drinking a whole glass of each cocktail, do tasters first and then guests can pick their favourites to drink after the masterclass. Working in pairs or teams works really well and tasters will save a lot of wastage. Also it’s easier for participants to try and master one or two of their favourite cocktails really well, rather than all.
5. Professional Mixologist
5. Having an expert that is passionate about cocktails makes all the difference. However, the event isn’t school, and the guests won’t want to know every single detail about cocktails – just some interesting facts and fun stories. Bear this in mind, when selecting a supplier.
Don’t forget that not everybody drinks. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invite them, mocktails can be great fun. You’ll probably find other guests wanting to taste the mocktails as well.
7. Cocktail themed games
The evening doesn’t just have to be about drinking – include some fun (cocktail related) games that groups can do and everyone else can cheer –such as shake offs, lemon and lime squeezing competitions, cocktail making races etc.
8. Classics are ‘classics’ for a reason
Don’t steer too far away from the classics, that is what people want to be able to make. There is a reason why certain cocktails are popular – it’s because they taste good!
9. Design your own cocktail
Have a finale, such as teams coming up with their own cocktail creation. This is a good way to end the event and give some silly prizes to give to the winning teams.
10. Cocktail menu
One last point – provide a menu of recipes for the cocktails people on the night. So that people have something to remember the event and will know how to make their favourite cocktails.