I joined a group in Westport Whiskey & Wine’s beautiful tasting room last night for a demonstration on making three different versions of the Old Fashioned cocktail with Maker’s Mark. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it was a very interesting and enjoyable evening. The evening was one of the many events and demonstrations set up in their tasting room by store manager Emily Meadows. Tickets were $25 and quickly sold out in advance. Co-owner Richard Splan started the evening off with an introduction and offered discounted purchases in the store afterwards.
Maker’s Mark ambassador Thomas Bolton gave a very animated demonstration of how to make the three cocktails: the Pendennis Old Fashioned, an 1860’s Old Fashioned, and a contemporary Old Fashioned with chocolate bitters, which was my favorite with an impressive demonstration of a flamed orange peel. Small tastings of each cocktail were handed out during the presentation, and Bolton also gave out some bartending tips like rubbing the orange peel around the lip of the glass and also the sides to increase the aromatic experience.
After the demonstration was over, attendees were turned loose with their wax dipped glass (theirs to keep) to visit three different stations to make their cocktails. It was like a group of preschoolers set free in a bar to explore and discover through play time, and it was fun to watch everyone excitedly grab at ingredients and discuss the different options.
- The bitters station – A delicious and exotic variety of bitters were available to choose from like plum bitters, lavender bitters, black walnut bitters, aromatic, orange or chocolate. I chose chocolate, because – chocolate. Yum.
- The simple syrup station – Earl Grey Tea, cinnamon, traditional and others. Meadows suggested cinnamon to go with my chocolate.
- The bar station – Once you had your bitters and simple syrup, Bolton assisted with the selection of a Maker’s Mark product and walked you through adding it all to the beaker for stirring, straining and your garnishes as Rich Finck from Kentucky Straight Ice – who had given a short explanation of the difference between the premium crystal clear ice process and other ice – placed a large square of premium ice in your glass. Bolton chose Makers 46 for my cocktail, and the finished product under his guidance was delicious!