Cocktail Class

 In Culture, Interviews

ALIVE spirits writer Matt Sorrell studies up at the latest mixology course at Taste.


St. Louis’ amateur mixologists now have a golden opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade from two of the premier cocktail experts on the scene. Ted Kilgore, who oversees the bar program at Taste, and his wife, Jamie, the bar manager at Niche, are offering a monthly mixology course through their consulting company, Last Word Cocktails, at Taste in the Central West End.

The couple first launched the program with a few classes at the old Taste location in Benton Park in fall 2010, and a couple more were conducted at Taste’s current digs in the Central West End. The sessions proved so popular that the pair is now putting on the sessions on a monthly basis, and I was fortunate enough to attend one on behalf of ALIVE to see what the buzz is all about.

We took our seats around the bar at Taste, and started the day with a glass of Brandy Milk Punch, a simple, classic New Orleans libation. As one of the 10 exclusive students within the cozy confines of Taste, I felt right at home in the comfortable and intimate atmosphere. Of course, we all wanted to immediately start shaking and stirring, but before we delved into the mechanics of how cocktails are put together, we went all the way to the beginning by learning the basics of how to taste straight spirits. As Ted says, you can’t make a quality cocktail without quality spirits to build upon, and it’s of utmost importance to be able to judge for yourself whether your booze is going to be worthy of your final cocktail creation. Lined up in front of us were tasting portions of gin, tequila, rum, Scotch and bourbon. Ted skillfully led us through each spirit, teaching how to suss out the various flavor notes unique to the spirit, and how to get an idea of the alcohol content and quality of the distillation by taste alone. Amidst the happy sipping, we also learned some of the verbiage to articulate what we experienced on our tongues.

Then, it was on to some serious cocktailing. The Kilgores demonstrated some basic techniques like proper shaking and stirring and when each is appropriate, plus some flavorful tips to enhance the final product, like how to flame an orange peel. Just as important, they broke down the process of how a cocktail is created, covering everything from standard ratios to the importance of ice. Armed with this knowledge, we each tried our hand at making a martinez, a classic drink thought by many to be the precursor to the martini. Buoyed by that exercise, I then got to take a solo turn behind the bar to create my own custom cocktail under the Kilgores’ expert guidance. I chose Scotch for a challenge and created what we now call “I’ve Had Worse.”

We walked away from the day with a set of bar tools, a list of some of the basic recipes and detailed notes on everything that was covered. The plan is to hold the classes on the last Sunday of the month. Look for classes covering specific spirits or cocktails, as well. I, for one, can’t wait!
More info at



Last Word Cocktails mixology class at Taste

Last Word Cocktails mixology class at Taste


Photo credit: Samuel Zide

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