Sure, a hotel bar is a place to mix and mingle.
But what if you put your time at the bar to good use and bring home a lifelong skill?
Courtney Crowder reports on hotels around the country where guests can mix it up with a hands-on mixology class.
1. Fairmont Scottsdale – Scottsdale, Arizona
At this sunny resort, guests can enjoy the cocktails created by the hotel’s beverage chairman, Anthony Esparza, and then learn how to make them at home. The hotel is currently offering a Desert Icebreaker Package, which includes one-night accommodations in a Fairmont room, an hour-long mixology lesson for two, plus two signature cocktails per person and a Bloody Mary breakfast. While there, feel free to ask any of the bartenders about their homemade infusions and specialty organic cocktails. The hotel also has an impressive wine list. The package is available through March 31 and starts at $383 per night based on double occupancy. 480-585-4848, www.Fairmont.com/Scottsdale
This luxury hotel is currently offering mixology classes in its newly re-opened Grant Grill. Every Thursday at 4 p.m., the house mixologist hosts a “signature sours” class where guests get tips on how to make high-quality sour mixes and other fancy infusions at home. Only 10 people are allowed in each class, so reserve a space ahead of time. The hotel, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2010, will have many other deals and special events throughout the year. The mixology class costs $20 per guest. 800-237-5029, www.usgrant.net
3. The Blackstone, A Renaissance Hotel – Chicago, Illinois
The mixologist at the Blackstone Hotel, Kate Clas, leads a regular selection of classes ranging from the ‘Make Your Own Sangria’ lesson to the ‘Girls Night Out’ party. The Girls Night Out party is held every Thursday and gives tips on the process of infusing, preparing and hosting a successful home cocktail party. The cost is $25 per person for the one-hour class and includes tastings of three different cocktails. Or take the Shopping with the Chef class to get demonstrations on how to prepare cocktails and cuisine for a fruitful dinner party from Clas and in-house restaurant chef Jose Garces. The cocktails and cuisine are always seasonally centered. The class is held every Saturday and costs $125 per person. The rotation of classes changes regularly, so consult the online calendar or front desk for more information on upcoming classes or scheduling a private lesson with Clas, who is known for working with Chef Garces to source obscure ingredients, spices and fruits for concocting her famously culinary-driven cocktails. 312-447-0955, www.theblackstonehotel.com
4. The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows – Beverly Hills, California
The Bar NINETEEN12 master mixology class is similar to a private event and can be booked for 1-5 guests. The class will be taught by various hotel bartenders, most of whom are revered for their mixing skills. The hotel’s talented bartenders will lead students in a one-on-one experience that will include lessons on cocktail mixing based on each customer’s desires. Each class lasts for two hours and costs $250 for two people with an added $50 for every additional group member. 310-273-1912, www.beverlyhillshotel.com
5. The New York Palace – New York, New York
The mixology class at the GILT bar and restaurant is taught by one of their master bartenders, some of whom have been working at either the hotel or in the industry for almost a quarter century. This class can be booked for individuals or private parties of up to five guests. Each class is led by the students, which means they choose what they want to make. Guests may learn how to make the prefect martini, source the flavor of their favorite cocktail or create something entirely original. The two-hour classes cost $200 for two people and $50 per person for each additional group member. 212-891-8100, www.newyorkpalace.com
Forget wine tasting and try these New Alcohol Tours (video).
6. The Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts
The Liberty celebrates every Friday with special Finally Friday demonstrations. The three female bartenders at the hotel, Jacqui B., Jackie D. and Kelsey, have created a series of health-conscious cocktails that are all fewer than 150 calories—but still pack a mean punch. Every Friday at 5:30 p.m., one of the ladies explains how to create one of their famous cocktails and gives out free tastes. Don’t hesitate to ask them about the other cocktails on the list or pick their brain about the process of mixing drinks in general. Guests can also feel free try other drinks from the Sleek Cocktails list. Hey, they’re so low-calorie, they’re practically healthy! 617-224-4000, www.libertyhotel.com
7. Hotel Commonwealth – Boston, Massachusetts
Boston’s Hotel Commonwealth is now partnering with Eastern Standard Kitchen and Drinks to offer the Cocktails & Dreams package. The package includes weekend accommodations in a junior suite, a master class with Eastern Standard’s bar manager and celebrated mixologist Jackson Cannon, a chef’s tasting menu paired with the bar’s specialty cocktails and a bottle of Eastern Standard’s homemade vermouth. The entire package is based on double occupancy and costs $339 per room. The deal is valid from now until February 28. 617-933-5000, www.hotelcommonwealth.com
For another hands-on experience, check out the Wine Boot Camp Chronicles.
8. Hotel Monaco – Seattle, Washington
Offered through the Sazerac Restaurant, the hotel hosts a mixology class that features a lesson on how to make five martini cocktails. In addition to observing a trained mixologist making guests’ favorite libations, each guest will take home a custom cocktail recipe booklet and a souvenir cocktail shaker. The class runs periodically or by group request and costs $60 per person. 206-624-7755, www.Monaco-seattle.com
By Courtney Crowder for PeterGreenberg.com.
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