Cocktails & Spirits

The Regent's Bartending Classes: Fantasy Camp for Booze Hounds

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to step behind the bar of a world-class cocktail lounge and shake your stuff to an adoring and cheering crowd?

Much like baseball has fantasy camp and wannabe metal heads can rock out at guitar gatherings, the Regent Cocktail Club hosts cocktail-making classes.

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The classes, offered every other Friday, are pricey -- $85 for a two-hour session in which you learn to make two or three cocktails. But servers from neighboring Dolce Italian keep you sated with seemingly endless plates of appetizers. Plus, as Bacardi brand manager Hillary Choo said to coax the first student to get behind the bar, "How often do you get the chance to actually make a cocktail at the Regent Cocktail Club?"

Though other bars hold cocktail-making classes, the fact that the Regent gives access to its behind-the-scenes goings-on sets this evening apart from the rest. If anything, the class is worth the price as much for the Instagrams and experience as for the knowledge imparted.

Each session is led by a different spirits rep or bartender. Last Friday, Choo taught the intimate class how to make a classic daiquiri and a rum old-fashioned.

Choo first gave a little history on each drink. (Did you know sugar and bitters were added to whiskey originally to make it more palatable?) Then, after she demonstrated how to make each cocktail, students were invited behind the bar, one by one, to try their hand at drink making. After the ice was broken with the first student volunteer, the class got more relaxed, with Regent bartenders cheering on the neophytes and giving them high-fives after a successful shake or a skillful pour.

Choo, a personable and patient teacher, explained each tip, and when a student just couldn't get the hang of proper stirring technique, Choo was quick to note that it took her a whole week of nonstop practice until she mastered the art. "The good thing is that once you get the hang of it," she said, "you've got it forever."

Be sure to bring a pen, because you'll want to write down the recipes. The only thing the Regent falls short on is not providing recipe cards to take home. Of course, the highlight is savoring the fruits of your labor -- in the form of a few well-made cocktails.

The Regent's next bartending class is scheduled for March 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. and costs $85 in advance or $100 at the bar. The price includes all materials and the food from Dolce Italian, plus you can drink the cocktails you make. To purchase tickets in advance, visit

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss