Get a lesson behind the bar at E&O Trading Company

In the ongoing quest for a new nightlife experience, a couple girlfriends and I met up with a few HILuxury fellas for a tailored course in cocktail “mixology”

hosted by the charismatic Joey Gottesman, the “Keeper of the Spirits” at E&O Trading Company. After introductions, Joey guides us over to our seats at the long, stone bar, which is set up for dining, and pops through the swinging doors and around the other side.

“This course is for people who like to learn and talk about liquor, people who like to experiment and have fun,” he explains. What makes this different from any other evening spent sipping from a menu of cocktail concoctions is that even though imbibing numerous drinks is involved, tonight has everyone in our group taking a turn behind the bar. (Note to the ladies: Your heels will sink into the perforated rubber mats they use back there. Wedges or flats are probably better footwear choices.)

We’re taken through some basics of restaurant etiquette and wine service before getting into the meat of the evening: modern and classic cocktails. The drinks all go down effortlessly – they taste amazing and are paired with food, which complements the meal and helps make the next day completely painless. Guided by Joey’s good humor and aplomb, we practice our bar skills in turn, from opening a wine bottle with panache to muddling fresh fruits and herbs (basil!) to some surprising bottle-twirling tricks our photographer pulls off a la Tom Cruise in Cocktail.

Pairing cocktails with food was a bit of a revelation to me. Given that the edibles were of the well-sauced, heavy pupu variety (calamari, corn fritters, basil fried tofu), the pairing concept was probably not tested to the limit, but it really worked that evening for a night of fun. Our “bar chef ” Joey kept things entertaining, informative and savory.

The course gave me a new appreciation for even the simplest cocktails, and I must say a new disdain for the simple, vodka-plus-juice cocktail I fall back on in many club situations. Can I at least get that shaken instead of stirred? Now I’m thinking that a bartender who doesn’t know how to make a caipiroska (a caipirinha made with vodka instead of the Brazilian sugarcane alcohol cachaça) or the historic New Orleans sazerac garnished with lemon-peel twist might not be worthy of the over-generous tip I usually give.

At the end of the evening, we were giggly but content, dessert drinks and hand-crafted sorbet satisfying that last sweet tooth. Our driver (you don’t want to drive on a night like this) was smirking a little as he picked up our chatty crew and delivered us to our respective homes.

Parties of three to six people can book directly with Joey by contacting E&O Trading, and he will work with you to tailor the course to any particular interests you may have. E-mail jgottesman@eotrading.com for more information.
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