Join me for a talk with Drunken Botanist author Amy Stewart
A Quirky Bar Tour in San Francisco with Nikka Whisky

January 2024 Classes by Camper English

In January I'll be teaching 7 classes!

Jan 2024 class scheduleYou can always find my events on the Events Page, but here are the class descriptions: 

January 6, 2024 - 2 classes Saturday afternoon -  Nonalcoholic Spirits and Cocktails Tasting AND Water Tasting and Education at Mechanics Institute

January 10, 2024 - class - Ice Bling class at the Beverage Academy

January 16, 2024 - class - Nonalcoholic Spirits and Cocktails Tasting at Mechanics Institute

January 17, 2024 - class - Amaro class at the Beverage Academy

January 18, 2024 - class - Still or Sparkling? Water Tasting and Education at Mechanics Institute

January 24, 2024 - class - Ice Bling class at the Beverage Academy


Ice Bling

In the class on cutting up and blinging out clear ice we'll:

  • Discuss how to make clear ice with directional freezing

  • Try out tools including saws, knives, ice picks, pattern plates, cookie presses, and more.

  • Cut up "logs" of ice into big cubes

  • Cut cubes into giant Ice Diamonds!

  • Make ice Spheres

  • Learn to polish and clean up shapes of ice

  • Make patterned, blinged-out ice with several different tools

  • Cracking, shaving, and and other ice manipulation

  • Enjoy some drinks together! The class includes nonalcoholic beverages before/during cutting and a boozy one after!



Best Nonalcoholic Spirits and Cocktails Sampling Session

Sample a dozen or more of the best nonalcoholic beverages selected by cocktail journalist Camper English.

Suddenly there are tons of new nonalcoholic products on the market, but at prices near $40 per bottle it can be risky to buy before you try – especially because many of them are not as good as you’d like them to be. In this guided tasting class, cocktails and spirits journalist Camper English will share his favorite selections from among the 100+ nonalcoholic spirits, canned cocktails, and other non-alcoholic products he has tried over the years.

The product emphasis for this tasting is on ready-to-drink cocktails and nonalcoholic “spirits” that have an obvious utility (such as mixing with soda water or ginger ale), rather than needing to make a full cocktail with them. We’ll also not include very much non-alcoholic beer and wine – though you’re likely to find a few of those in the tasting.


Still or Sparkling? Water Tasting and Education

Does water have flavor? Is there a difference in flavor between tap and bottled water, or from one bottled water to another? The answer to all these questions is YES!

Come learn about- and taste- lots of water in this class by cocktail writer and educator Camper English.

First we’ll learn about tap water, including the local stuff in San Francisco. We’ll briefly discuss home water filters and measure the dissolved solids in water before and after filtration to see how much it changes. We’ll taste tap and filtered water versus demineralized water to get a baseline.

Then we’ll talk about bottled water – the basic difference between bottled tap and specially-bottled water- and taste some brands to see how they differ. We’ll learn how to categorize water according to type of source, mineral makeup (sodium, magnesium, calcium, etc), total dissolved solids, pH and more. Then we’ll move on to sparkling waters to see how they can be even more special and reflective of (dare I say it?) terroir than still water.

We’ll taste both bottled still waters and also naturally and artificially-carbonated sparkling waters to see the great variation in brands. We’ll look at award-winning waters, waters designed for whiskey pairings, and other novelty water options. This class is open to everyone and a perfect way to stay hydrated during Dry January.

In all we’ll taste test 12-16 different waters and students will leave the class with an appreciation for the variety of water to drink, a way to describe how they taste, and a new thirst for this category.


Amaro: Uncover The Bitter Sweetness

Bittersweet liqueurs like Campari, Fernet-Branca, Cynar, Averna, and Amaro Nonino are flavored with a wide range of botanicals, but nearly all of them have a backbone built from wormwood, quinine, gentian, and/or rhubarb root. In this class we’ll taste these four individual bitter components of amaros plus EIGHT different and delicious examples of the category to train our palates to recognize them.

This tasting class for the bitter-curious will combine history and botany (all of these plants were used as medicine at one point) with some physiology of taste to explain why we don’t all experience bitterness to the same levels. We’ll also cover the way bitter and bittersweet liqueurs and fortified wines can be classified, including the categories of americanos, aperitif liqueurs, vermouths, rabarbaros, quinquinas, fernets, and more!

Students will leave with a cheat sheet of class information so that they can focus on tasting rather than taking notes.

Your professor is Camper English of Camper is the author of Doctors and Distillers: The Remarkable Medicinal History of Beer, Wine, Spirits, and Cocktails, in which he traced the historic use of bitter botanicals in spirits. Doctors and Distillers has been described as “every bit as entertaining as it is educational” (Scientific American), “best savored, not shot-gunned, with a drink in hand” (Science), and “a tirelessly researched book on the centuries-long relationship between medicine and booze” (New York Times). Copies of the book are available as an add-on to the class.

Camper has been studying the craft cocktail renaissance in San Francisco and around the world for over fifteen years and has contributed to publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, Popular Science, Saveur, Whisky Advocate, and The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails. He is a dynamic speaker and educator who teaches cocktail history and hands-on classes like this one. His most recent work is The Ice Book: Cool Cubes, Clear Spheres, and Other Chill Cocktail Crafts, and be sure to look for Beverage Academy classes focusing on ice!




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