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The Violet Hour Cocktail Masterclass

Lynda Moyo rounds up two mates to see what all the fuss is about mixology

Written by . Published on October 31st 2013.


The Violet Hour Cocktail Masterclass
 

MIXOLOGY is one of those words I’ve always found offensive on the ear.

Despite dating back to the 19th century, the modern day cocktail renaissance turned it into a very fashionable and trite term. In the last decade, the simple pleasure of a mixed drink suddenly became a whole science served up by self-important bartenders, it would seem. It all got a bit out of hand.

The Violet Hour has a cocktail menu full of classics but to put Kyle’s cocktail making and teaching abilities to the ultimate test, we decided to go ‘off menu’. Gasp.

The best ‘mixologists’ however, are the ones who don’t take themselves too seriously but do actually know their stuff. Cocktail nerd and manager of The Violet Hour in West Didsbury, Kyle Basnett, is one mixologist who probably doesn’t milk his title enough.

Kyle hosts the Violet Hour’s cocktail masterclasses where those wishing to learn how to shake, stir and serve up all manner of cocktails can book in and mix it up. It might be a hen do, stag do, birthday, corporate team building event, or, in my case, just an excuse to have a laugh with a few mates out of town for a change.

Kyle Basnett welcomes guests to the Violet Hour Cocktail MasterclassKyle Basnett welcomes guests to the Violet Hour Cocktail Masterclass

We arrived at the Violet Hour at 7.30pm on a Friday night to a very thirsty mixed group. The cocktail masterclasses are held in the upstairs den so groups get a whole bar to themselves. Having positioned ourselves eagerly around the bar and been served up with glasses of Prosecco to start in came Kyle...

Group classes, particularly when some people don’t know each other, need a leader to command the stage and take charge. Kyle started off by welcoming our class of 20 with a brief overview of what the class would entail, running through the history behind cocktails and spirits, with some interesting revelations.

We were soon chattering away about the Prohibition period of the 1920s and 1930s and the resulting underground, organised and widespread crime.  You only have to watch TV show Boardwalk Empire to see the power of alcohol back then.

Learn some of the history of alcohol during the Violet Hour Cocktail MasterclassLearn some of the history of alcohol during the Violet Hour Cocktail Masterclass

Kyle’s talk took us further around the world too, taking in the origins of rum and gin as well as the cocktails such spirits are found in. Meanwhile he was also at work, perfectly concocting 20 Mojitos, 20 Martinis and 20 Cosmopolitans in quick succession before our very eyes.

Mojitos a go-goMojitos a go-go

We sat, drank and listened while Kyle shared the stories behind these three hugely popular drinks and some of the basic equipment and ingredients needed for making cocktails in general, such as the Boston Shaker, Jigger, Hawthorne Strainers and Muddlers.

Next up it was our turn to get stuck in. The Violet Hour has a cocktail menu full of classics but to put Kyle’s cocktail making and teaching abilities to the ultimate test, we decided to go ‘off menu’. Gasp. 

Kyle teaches how to make a Porn Star Martini. And yes you do have to hold it over your head...Kyle teaches how to make a Porn Star Martini. And yes you do have to hold it over your head...

To start with, the trendy and hugely popular Porn Star Martini was top of the list. Kyle’s eyes lit up. You see, working from a set menu is not what mixology is really about. Yes, the classics will always be made, but after that it’s about invention and imagination. Within seconds, Kyle had me and my friend pouring up our porn stars. Then, just to throw him another curve ball, we showed him a recipe for a homemade rum punch from my friend’s dad who’d text it over from the Bahamas where he lives.

Kyle was impressed and immediately reached for the special Tiki glass right at the back of the bar. His enthusiasm was as intoxicating as the cocktails themselves and that’s what made the night more than just a drinking session.

Kate concocts her dad's secret rum punch recipe with the help of KyleKate concocts her dad's secret rum punch recipe with the help of Kyle

Twenty individual cocktails later and we’d seen it all. There wasn’t a dry eye, or mouth for that matter, in the house. The fact is cocktail making is a lot of fun, an achievement to master and ends with a very enjoyable result,  no matter what you call the people making the drinks.

Mixology Masterclasses at the Violet Hour cost £24.95 per head. This includes bubbles on arrival followed by a detailed tutorial with one of the Violet Hour’s top mixologists such as Kyle, followed by lots of fun mixing your own cocktails and learning an extensive history of the drinks being made.

Visit www.theviolethourdidsbury.co.uk/masterclass and follow the Violet Hour on Twitter @theviolethouruk for more information. 

He's just showing off now...He's just showing off now...

Two tasty Porn StarsTwo tasty Porn Stars

Off menu Tiki cocktail at the Violet HourOff menu Tiki cocktail at the Violet Hour

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