Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Drinking Lessons at the Sorrento Hotel

With Sundays being a traditional day of reverence it’s fitting that Seattle’s Sorrento Hotel has found its own spirited devotion with Drinking Lessons, master classes in cocktails held twice monthly on Sunday evenings in their Hunt Club Bar. Part of the hotel’s Night School series—which hosts intimate events ranging from quiet readings to chamber music performances—Drinking Lessons temporarily transforms the bar into a classroom with a rotating roster of bartenders and cocktail personalities as the visiting professors.

On a recent Sunday, we bellied up to the hotel’s 100-year-old bar and sat with 11 other spirited revelers while San Francisco bartenders Duggan McDonnell and Neyah White gave us a lesson in Peruvian pisco and single-village mezcals. Between stories of White’s recent visit with agave farmers in Mexico and McDonnell’s production of his soon-to-be released pisco, we watched as eggs were cracked and limes juiced for Pisco Sours, noshed on snacks prepared by hotel chef Matthew Mina and sipped a Mezcal Derby (recipe below), a smoky-herbal combo of mezcal and Benedictine.

Launched this past August by Seattle chef and cocktail geek Michael Hebb to commemorate the Sorrento’s 100-year anniversary, Drinking Lessons puts some of the nation’s top bartenders, distillers and cocktail personalities, behind the hotel bar for two-hour sessions of spirits and cocktail education based on the evening’s chosen theme. The interactive classes are $50 per person and typically include three cocktails, snacks and the chance to mingle with industry pros. Next up is an absinthe soiree on March 7 with cocktail author and video host Robert Hess, and absinthe distillers Gwydion Stone and Marc Bernhard. To reserve a spot and get a schedule for upcoming classes, email nightschool@sorrentohotel.com.

Mezcal Derby
2 oz. mezcal
1/2 oz. Benedictine
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Ice cubes
Tools: barspoon, mixing tin, strainer
Glass: cocktail
Garnish: orange zest

Stir ingredients gently over ice, strained into a glass and garnish.

Neyah White, Nopa, San Francisco