Cocktail masterclass at Revolution Northampton is perfect mix
Stuck for somewhere fresh to go for an upcoming birthday celebration or hen do?
You could do a lot worse than book in you and your friends for a cocktail masterclass at Revolution in Northampton.
Our group of four blokes (a modest number, you can book parties of 20 plus) were invited along to sample the experience - and the drinks - and far from just sitting and watching while the mixologist does his thing, it is fully hands-on and great, messy fun.
First things first; there is a lot of alcohol involved if you want to have the full experience. Two of us were driving so had to have the 'virgin' versions of all the cocktails, or just a small sip, but the other two had by far the best time.
We knocked back six or seven drinks each, and a couple of shots, within the two-hour time frame as we got caught up in the flow of each activity.
So not something for those who get tipsy on a sniff of vodka, even if the value is cracking at £25 per person.
Emerson, our host for the evening, welcomed us behind the plush VIP curtain towards the back of the Bridge Street bar, and after we climbed onto our stools, talked us through our evening.
The first round entailed us being invited behind the bar one at a time and learning to make a cocktail of Emerson's choice - Cosmopolitan, a Mojitos for the boozers, a Smooth Talker and Frozen Daquiri for the abstainers - followed by a second round making one from the Revolution menu.
It's trickier than it looks and a top tip is to make sure you concentrate when the mixologist is naming the different receptacles and instruments. If you keep on picking up the Boston tin shaker instead of your fancy glass, for example, it can make you look either a bit dim or a bit drunk. (Also, if you're thinking of lighting the orange zest to impress your watching friends, make sure you dry your thumbs first.)
But the satisfaction of pouring your creation smoothly through the strainer into your ice-filled glass is worth it, especially when it tastes not half bad.
In between rounds you can either sip away at your drink, hoover up the included bar snacks, or tap into Emerson's secrets of the mixologist's craft.
He's very happy to answer questions, including how to tell which cocktail someone is going to order by looking at them, what the ladies' favourite is and which order is most likely to make you unpopular with the entire bar (a round of Bloody Mary's, apparently, because it takes for-bloody-ever).
The activities then came thick and fast. There was a hilarious speed round where you have to put you arms around a mate and use one hand each to measure and pour the ingredients faster than the other teams. If you're both right-handed, like we were, it gets very messy remarkably quickly and I'd like to bet the finished result was rather more boozy than the version on the menu.
We then staggered onto the create-your-own-flavourful-cocktail round where, with slight guidance from Emerson, we invented our own drinks. Although I'm biased, me and Al's winning drink was pretty delicious, scoring an 8.5 out of 10 from Emerson. (It had pineapple juice, parma violet-type flavours, a bit of apple something, Mr Whippy vodka and topped off with a touch of sour vodka. I won't tell you what we named it for fear of offence.)
Finally, and not a little blearily, we were lined up for the finale contest, which was trying to knock a row of precariously-balanced vodka shots into pint glasses. Oh, did I mention we were 15ft away and had to knock them in domino-style using cubes of ice? Not easy, especially half-a-dozen cocktails down but Paul managed it after a few goes, plus a few wayward efforts that give the curtain a good thwacking.
Our reward? The deposited shots, of course.
All in all, we had a very enjoyable two hours, replacing the wisdom contained in the brain cells we annihilated with fresh knowledge about how to get drunk more successfully. You can't ask much more from a night out than that.