Wednesday, 17 October 2018

A Lesson in Cocktail Making


Essential train travel!


Last Christmas I was given a couple of vouchers for a public cocktail-making class at TT Liquor in London. Although we visited London a fair number of times this year it took until October to fit in the visit to TT Liquor, which is on Dalston Road in Shoreditch, not a part of town we often visit (in fact, I think I've been just once before). This is, of course, just the sort of thing for public transport, for driving after making and tasting four cocktails (and drinking the one with which we were welcomed to the session) is not recommended! The public sessions are held on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons so I checked availability online and telephoned to book us into one on a date we could make and then set about buying train tickets. We allowed plenty of time before (to ensure we did not miss it) and afterwards (to ensure that we were fit and well). We caught to 08:00 from Stamford, travelling Standard Class on this section of the route, and then changed trains at Peterborough to travel First Class to London, and wait of just a few minutes. We had a very smooth and easy ride to Kings Cross with the light Saturday breakfast served as soon as we left Peterborough.

On arrival in London we caught a bus to Bethnal Green, for we had decided to spend the morning at the Museum of Childhood there, an outstation of the Victoria & Albert, which had recently been refurbished. The bus ride was interesting in itself and involved a change of buses at Ludgate Hill. We saw all that we wanted (all that there is, really!) at the museum and also had a very decent lunch there before taking another bus to Shoreditch for the main event, the Public Masterclass at TT Liquor. The Oyster Card makes this sort of thing so simple, and with our Senior Railcards we get a discount on London transport, too. There was a bit of a walk up Shoreditch High Street before we spotted the venue just after the street becomes Dalston Road.

Using the Mexican Elbow to squeeze fruit
There was a bit of a delay getting started because a delivery had not arrived and staff had to got out and buy the fruit that was needed not only for the public class we were attending but for another event going on at the same time. Eventually we were called through and made ourselves at home in our classroom. There were seven others taking part and two training bars set up facing the teacher's bar at the front, all stocked with the ingredients and equipment we were going to need, some shared with others and some were there was one each. Each bar had a sink for washing, one for waste, one filled with ice cubes and one with crushed ice. We introduced ourselves to each other over the welcome cocktail and heard a bit about what goes on at TT, and then we were into the first lesson which was my favourite cocktail of the whole day, a lychee martini. I'll be able to make them myself because we have been sent by email the recipes for all four of the cocktails we made, although I am not sure I'll be making the zombie which we did last!

There was no hanging about once we got going, quickly preparing the next drink while enjoying drinking the one we had just made, although we did not lose time because of the late start: the class was allowed to overrun so that were were not short of time.

The most helpful thing about the class was not so much the actual recipes but the techniques. I learnt how to shake properly (using a two-part shaker; I have only used the three-part one at home) and the way to prepare mint leaves properly. I may need to look again at ice-making and buy some more equipment ... And having enough fruit juices at is important: if a cocktail is to be refreshing and thirst-quenching it need not be all alcohol!

Tea on the train - not bad for a weekend offering,
smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches
We walked back to Kings Cross. Booked on the 18:18 Leeds train back to Peterborough we had plenty of time. We were open to getting a bus or the Underground but did not need to do so, since there was plenty of time, even to stop for a cup of tea on the way. It was unbelievably sunny and warm for October, about 24 degrees Celsius. As usual we waited in the First Class lounge at the station, and our train was a little late. There had been some sort of hold-up and it came in late from its previous turn. We were not worried by this as we had a long wait for our connection at Peterborough and were in little danger of missing it. Indeed, having had tea and sandwiches on the train, we had time at Peterborough to have another hot drink at the Great Northern Hotel, provided free-of-charge for First Class ticket-holders by LNER. And so the train back to Stamford and a taxi home - after all the walking we had done that seemed like a great way to end the day, and although it was dark by now, it was very warm still and the night was still young.

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