Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mint Cocktail Class at Back Bay Social Club

 Last week, I was invited to attend a mint-themed cocktail class at the Back Bay Social Club. The 15 attendees embarked on a tasty adventure of “Mint Through the Ages,” learning to appreciate the technique and historical flavor behind four mint-inspired cocktails. Our expert instructor and the bar manager, Ginny Edwards, offered practical suggestions on how to create each cocktail at home, and also let us in on the secret behind enhancing the minty-goodness behind mint-based cocktails – did you know that hitting a fresh mint sprig against your wrist, before using it as a decorative garnish, will liven up the mint flavor? Give it a try! It’s a fun, easy way to kick up a cocktail’s flavor and impress friends at a dinner party!

What sets Back Bay Social Club’s mint cocktails apart from others’? Ginny is a big proponent of double straining. It imparts the mint flavor without allowing any residual pieces of fresh mint into the drink itself. This helps to avoid the awkward moment when one of your dinner party guests gets a piece of mint stuck in their teeth. Eek.

The first drink we sampled was the classic Mint Julep. Did you know that this cocktail dates back to as early as the late 1700’s? Today, it is known as the infamous drink of choice at the Kentucky Derby.

I had never tried most of the drinks on tap that evening before, so I was eager to test out my palette. Surprisingly, although I love all things sweet, the Mint Julep, in my opinion, was too sweet and the mint was too overwhelming for my liking. I only had a few sips of my sample and was hoping for something a bit more subtle in the next cocktail.

And subtly sweet, I got! Up next was the Mint Smash. Think: Whiskey Smash meets Mint Julep. Adding a bit of fresh lemon made all the difference by refuting the surge of sugary sweetness in the Mint Julep.  The Mint Smash was much more refreshing and would be perfect for a hot, summer afternoon.

And of course, you can’t hold a class on mint cocktails without a Mojito! Although the exact origin of this cocktail is still up for debate, it is almost certainly a Cuban derivative, likely from around 1920. The combination of white rum, fresh lime, simple syrup, soda and fresh mint was a perfect take on a classic summer favorite.

At this point in the class, I have to admit, I was feeling a little tipsy! I had headed right into the city from work, not leaving adequate time to eat a full dinner, and was hoping that the restaurant would have some complimentary apps available for the bloggers they invited. Unfortunately, I was out of luck. The Back Bay Social Club holds classes like this quarterly, so I’m hoping if I make it to the summer class, they’ll decide to provide some nosh!

Last, but certainly not least, we sampled the Pineapple Express, a Back Bay Social Club original. This was essentially a hybrid of the Mint Smash and the Mojito, as it featured the lemon, simple syrup and mint of the Smash, combined with the rum and soda of the Mojito. With the addition of the fresh pineapple and pineapple juice, I was in heaven! This brought all my favorite elements from the evening into one fruity, refreshing and delicious cocktail. Bravo!

Though I wasn’t a huge fan of the service, I learned a lot, and I’d happily head to another Back Bay Social Club cocktail class, as long as they promised us foodies some snacks next time. :)

*While I did receive this complimentary class from the Back Bay Social Club, these opinions are honest and entirely my own.

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