Cocktail-Making Class: Bourbon and Rye, America’s Native Spirits with Diana Pittet
Craving a refreshing Mint Julep, a classic Manhattan, or a flavorful Whiskey Sour? Discover the secret to creating bold bourbon beverages in this interactive class led by a cocktail expert. As we whip up these delectable drinks, we’ll discover the history of bourbon and rye in the United States, and learn how this distinctly American spirit skyrocketed to popularity.
Bourbon, a whiskey distilled primarily from corn, is considered by many to be America’s native spirit. This, however, was not always the case. Before bourbon and rye became beloved in the United States, the go-to hard liquors for many Americans were rum and brandy, preferably imported but also distilled domestically. In this seminar, we’ll explore how the United States went from being a nation of rum and brandy drinkers to whiskey tipplers, and discover how bourbon ultimately reigned supreme among American grain distillates. The story of these two whiskies is one of colonization and immigration, rebellion and independence, pestilence and prohibition, and rediscovery and rebirth—in a way, the story of the United States.
In this hands-on seminar, we will make three classic 19th-century whiskey cocktails, which are still enjoyed today, over 150 years later. We'll prepare a Mint Julep, one of America’s first iced alcoholic concoctions; the time-honored and refined Manhattan; and the enduring Whiskey Sour, which suffered a fall from grace at the hands of the soda gun and commercial sour mix in the last quarter of the 20th century, but now is once again being prepared properly and nobly with fresh citrus juice.
Led by cocktail expert Diana Pittet, this interactive seminar will explore the historical origins and American originality of bourbon and rye whiskies and cocktails. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased appreciation for the distinctiveness of American whiskies, and the proper techniques for making craft cocktails.
Participants are welcome to join in the cocktail making! You'll want these ingredients and tools on hand:
Jigger (for measuring ingredients)
**For the Mint Julep
Mint sprigs (fresh)
Garnish: Mint sprig
Glass: Julep cup or rocks glass
**For the Manhattan
Rye or Bourbon
Bitters (e.g., Angostura)
Garnish: Orange or lemon twist & Maraschino cherry
Glass: Cocktail glass (e.g., coupe, martini glass)
**For the Whiskey Sour
Rye or Bourbon
Fresh lemon juice
Egg white (optional)
Garnish: Orange or lemon slice & Maraschino cherry
Glass: Rocks glass or Cocktail glass (e.g., coupe, martini glass)
A former Latin teacher, Diana traded in the classical world for classic cocktails after she earned a master’s degree from NYU in Food Studies. She is the co-founder of Night Owl Hospitality, a cocktail catering company on the Jersey Shore, where she also runs a whiskey club. This autumn, Diana returns to NYU to teach a graduate class on the history, culture, and politics of drinking. An avid traveler, Diana aims to visit a total of 50 different countries by the time she is 50.
Not suitable for children under age 13 (sensitive content).