Cocktail Making Masterclasses at the Portobello Star
While I do have a larger than average collection of specialist spirits, syrups and bar equipment at home, I’m not actually very good at using them, preferring to go out and about around London for my fix. So, way back when during the colder months the team at the Portobello Star, a Notting Hill stalwart that is now under new ownership invited me along one chilly evening for a cocktail making masterclass I thought It would prove the perfect opportunity to learn how to mix up a few more classics I could enjoy at home.
Since attending the class, I’ve actually been back to the Portobello Star for drinks just because, after we had a delicious dinner at The Rum Kitchen, down the street and just around the corner. While obviously it fills up at the weekends, it is a lovely, chilled spot to grab a cocktail before or after dinner (or a film down the road at The Electric Cinema). However, for our cocktail class we were up in The Apartment, a lovely little private space above the bar. My first thought as we settled down with our welcome drinks was that their cocktail masterclasses would make a great activity for the sort of hen party where you still want to enjoy a few drinks, but you want it to be a bit more refined than the sort of booze up us Brits are embarrassingly known for.
While we were being introduced to what we were going to be learning during the class we were treated to a welcome cocktail, which I actually enjoyed so much it is what I ordered (off menu) when I revisited the bar. The Fappening is a whiskey cocktail designed for someone just like me; someone who usually does not like or drink whiskey. It is made with a house infusion, lots of apples and a brûléed egg white top. Really, it is like getting a boozy, delicious apple pie in a cocktail glass. We’ve only got a few officially weeks of summer left before things start to transition into autumn, and I think this is the drink you need to ask for to make your cocktail of the season the moment things start to get cooler.
Each class usually involves making three different cocktails (you’ll get the classics as standard, but as classes are only for private bookings chat with them beforehand about the sorts of drinks you want to make for something slightly more bespoke!) after your welcome cocktail, but to be honest we all got a bit distracted drinking and gossiping so we ended up only making two; a summertime favourite of mine I usually order in a pitcher but have never actually made myself before – a Mai Tai – and a Classic Margarita, my go-to summer drink of choice that I even have my own recipe for published in Student Eats. What I learnt mixing this one, is that it is potent, basically packing in all the booze with several different rums, Disaronno, Triple Sec and some lime juice, and while we kept it classical, I learnt that I prefer my Mai Tai’s the way I enjoy drinking them; lengthened out with some pineapple juice and in a big, iced jug for sipping on a terrace somewhere!
As I mentioned, I’m a bit tequila drinker so I think everyone should know how to mix a Classic Margarita, and salt the rim. While my measurements are a little different, we made ours with 37.5 ml of the most beautiful Ocho Blanco Tequila, and 12.5ml each of lime juice and Triple Sec. If you’re using premium tequila, you want to show it off! You know those Fever Tree adverts in the Tube that remind you that your tonic is most of the drink so you need to choose it well? Let that tequila shine! Either going for a drink down in the bar, or attending a masterclass do take the time to chat with your bartender about the spirits you’re drinking. It really annoys me when people working in bars don’t know all that much about the drinks they’re serving; everyone I spoke to at the Portobello Star was really up both on their selection, and most of the best spirits on the market at the moment!
You can check out the opening times for the Portobello Star on their website, as well as find all the information you need about booking yourself in for one of their masterclasses like the one I attended (they can cater for any group size between 4-30, at £30 a head, which I think is pretty great for 4 drinks and the class!) on their site too. Now, I’m off to plan tonights margarita. I think I might have some jalapeño infused tequila leftover from when I made Cucumber & Jalapeño Margaritas for Cinco de Mayo?