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Learn How To Make Amazing Cocktails – Just Like The Masters

Red7 , September 20, 2013

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How do you make a top class cocktail?

For all the liquor lovers out there, this is a question that needs answering and lets face it, we all love our liquor and we especially love a brilliantly boozy sumptuous cocktail put together with passion, skill and flare.

Some would say it’s all about the theatre; about ordering a drink and knowing it’s being built from the base up, to your taste. Made to measure, as it were, which is a far cry from asking for a pint and getting the same old drink time and again. It’s special: the perfect cocktail is a hand-crafted flavour explosion with an intoxicating punch and we just can’t get enough of them. But how do you go about making this nectar of the gods?

Well, to help me on my quest for cocktail perfection, I went along to the the final of the Brighton Mix Off Competition to see what the masters of the art were pulling out of their cocktail shakers.

Organised by Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival and the Mixology Group, the event saw three finalists bringing their blend of golden ambrosia to the Brighton masses, in the unique surroundings of Brighton Sea Life Centre.

Rebekah Dowell of the Mixology Group explained how cocktails have changed over the years and what to expect from the mixology masters of 2013:

“The creation of cocktails has evolved dramatically in the last 10 years from basic, easy to make cocktails, to science making an appearance into the mix, producing intricate cocktails that previously would have been found in the kitchen. This is the type of creativity the Mixology Group aim to focus on with the Mix Off. Creativity was something that the bartenders of this year’s competition certainly did not lack.”

The three final contenders were Max Curzon of The Hotel Du Vin, Will Underwood of Valentinos and Ally Bell of Plateau, with each contender taking rum, bourbon or gin as their base liquor. But what did the masters of the trade come up with to win over the judges?

Max created the ‘Mad Butter Fudger’ made from a blend of Banks 5 Island rum, Courvoisier VS, home made salted butterscotch with Montezuma 72% Dark chocolate and Orange bitters, while Will went all guns blazing with two drinks. The first, called ‘Sussex Heights’, made from  Blackdown gin, Spiced Honey Mead and Jade 1901. The second, called ‘Old English Gin and Tonic’ included cucumber, lime, elderflower, Blackdown gin and tonic. Finally, Ally made a drink called ‘The War Of The Roses’, which was a blend of Four Rose Yellow Label bourbon, home made cherry and apple jam, orange juice, lemon juice and grated dark chocolate.

Who won I hear you cry?

It was a tricky decision because all them were pretty darn good, so good in fact, that queues were forming left, right and centre from the off. However, there could be only one winner on the night, which deservedly went to Ali Bell of Plateau for his gorgeous chocolate flecked juicy bourbon based beauty, landing him the title of ‘Brighton’s Best Bartender.’

When I spoke to Ally, he admitted it took him days to get the home made jam in his award winning cocktail just right, although it only took him a few moments to pick up the juice from the shop, thank goodness.


Brighton Mix Off Competition 2013. Photo courtesy of Brighton Food Festival 2013 (Flickr)

So, what did we learn?

Mainly, that what you need to make a spectacular cocktail is creativity, a bit of science, experimentation, persistence and, oh yeah, a whole pile of booze. Lastly, having Ally’s recipe to hand doesn’t hurt either, or better still a master mixologist just like Ali to guide you through the trials and tribulations of mixing up a storm, so that you can learn how to make amazing cocktails.

Luckily for you, we at Redseven can throw together a party and a cocktail master class like nobody else. Naturally, we can organise the classes wherever you are and you can learn to make whatever you want, but don’t worry about staying in and slaving over home made jam; we’ll take care of the intricate stuff, so you can get to grips with the fun stuff! Bottoms up!

To try your hand at making a cocktails like the masters and for a full list of the destinations where we offer cocktail masterclasses, see here  –

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