In this age of artisan spirits and seasonal cocktail menus, breaking out the old familiar vodka tonics for guests at your next dinner party is really not ok. Sure it takes a little more effort and money to make Manhattans, and even more to come up with your own recipes, but San Francisco is blessed with a multitude of very effective classes to get you well on your way to wowing friends and loved ones with your own very special drinks. Check out this list of top local cocktail classes, and remember not to attend on an empty stomach. Special bonus: you might even get a little tipsy along the way.
1) Seasonal Cocktails with Scott Beattie
A rare chance for hands-on instruction from the barman who sparked the garden-fresh cocktail movement in the Bay Area—Beattie brings in seasonal ingredients (stone fruits in spring, berries in summer) and teaches the ratios and techniques to making a proper cocktail.
2) Beretta Cocktail Classes with Ryan Fitzgerald
Each "student" gets his own drink-making station in these fun, yet intensive classes with Beretta's main barman Ryan Fitzgerald. You'll also get a welcome cocktails and appetizers from Beretta's kitchen to tide you over. Past classes have focused on mezcal, tequila, whiskey, daiquiris, and a vermouth lesson.
What/When/Where: Email Beretta to find out when the next class takes place in the cozy private dining area downstairs; $85 includes a four drinks, appetizers and personal instruction.
3) Mixology 101 with H. Joseph Erhman
The owner of Elixir, which has gotten all kinds of national attention for amazing cocktails, leads a class on the basics of martinis, manhattans, mojitos and margaritas. The idea is that you'll leave with a better understanding of what you like, and also how to make drinks for friends.
4) Bourbon & Branch's Beverage Academy
Various bartenders from San Francisco's most famous speakeasy cocktail den teach fun classes like Cocktails 102: Market to Glass and American Whiskey: Rye, Bourbon & Beyond. At 2 1/2 to 3 hours a pop, these classes are among the longest in the city. The Beverage Academy also offers private classes for groups of 10 or more.
What/When/Where: $100 includes 2 1/2 to 3 hours of instruction and several drinks. Find out more about upcoming classes here on the website.