Cocktail-Making Class: Absinthe and Its Threatening Mystique with Diana Pittet - Context Travel

Cocktail-Making Class: Absinthe and Its Threatening Mystique with Diana Pittet


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Absinthe is a spirit apart; no distillate encompasses as much lore or danger. As with the origins of most spirituous liquors, absinthe, a high-proof distillate flavored with anise, fennel, and wormwood, was first consumed for medicinal purposes and then for pleasure. The heyday of its recreational use was in mid-19th-century Paris, enjoyed just as much by the middle class as by bohemians. For a variety of reasons, these artistic bohemians were increasingly perceived as an existential threat to the traditional way of life, as exemplified by the condemnation of Manet’s and Degas’s separate paintings, “The Absinthe Drinker.” Social fears of public disorder and violent crime led to absinthe’s ban just before World War I.

Now that the Green Fairy is legal again in the United States, as of 2007, we can rediscover its pleasures and make three cocktails--one shaken, one stirred, and one built--that reflect how absinthe was traditionally enjoyed in France and by Americans, such as Hemingway abroad and New Orleanians at home.

Led by cocktail expert Diana Pittet, this hands-on, interactive seminar will explore Europe's and America’s complicated relationship with absinthe, with a focus on 19th-century Paris. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased appreciation of the social and historical impacts on our drinking habits and attitudes, and with knowledge of 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)
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Mixing glass
  • Bar spoon
  • Cocktail strainer
  • Vegetable peeler

For the Absinthe Frappe:

  • Absinthe
  • Simple syrup
  • Club soda/Seltzer
  • Crushed ice

For the Sazerac:

  • Rye whiskey, Cognac, or both
  • Absinthe
  • Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Simple syrup or Sugar
  • Lemon twist

For the Death in the Afternoon:

  • Sparkling wine, preferably Champagne
  • Absinthe

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.

This conversation is suitable for adults over 21 years old

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
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(3)
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B
B.B.
So Much Fun

This is just a great, fun class. The cocktails we made were wonderful. Easy to follow, interesting contributions from class members, and the ability to ask questions have increased my bartending skills so I can impress my friends! Just a fun class....glad it was given at 5 pm.

K
K.
The Mystery of Absinthe

Diana alway had skills to make her audience happy and get people involved. Of course, now I need the glasses to go with the frappe. Great class to start a weekend.

S
S.C.
Diana is the best!

Diana’s knowledge of cocktails (small c) is amazing. This is the fourth class I’ve taken with her, and I've been impressed each time. She also stayed late this time to answer a ton of questions from the group. I highly recommend booking a class with Diana!

Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
100%
(3)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
B
B.B.
So Much Fun

This is just a great, fun class. The cocktails we made were wonderful. Easy to follow, interesting contributions from class members, and the ability to ask questions have increased my bartending skills so I can impress my friends! Just a fun class....glad it was given at 5 pm.

K
K.
The Mystery of Absinthe

Diana alway had skills to make her audience happy and get people involved. Of course, now I need the glasses to go with the frappe. Great class to start a weekend.

S
S.C.
Diana is the best!

Diana’s knowledge of cocktails (small c) is amazing. This is the fourth class I’ve taken with her, and I've been impressed each time. She also stayed late this time to answer a ton of questions from the group. I highly recommend booking a class with Diana!