Consumers In New York, Manhattan’s first hands-on, interactive craft beer, wine, spirits and cocktail event space — where attendees learn how to mix, shake and stir beverages — opened to the public recently in the SoHo area.
Liquor Lab is the brainchild of president Owen Meyer, who ran a successful one-year pilot, under the same name in Chicago and founded New York’s Wine & Whiskey club (that sells annual memberships to private bar events). Before Liquor Lab, Meyer was well entrenched in the spirits world with prior sales experience at Jim Beam and as a certified spirit specialist, where he recognized a demand for hands-on experiences. “͞In today’s imbibing landscape, there’s something missing from the beer, wine and spirits experience,”͟ says Meyer. “͞This is the solution to the problem of having the same night out over and over again.”
͟At Liquor Lab, Meyer enlists the talents of top bartenders, as well as certified beer, wine and spirits specialists to offer interactive teaching sessions and events, suitable for all consumers and bartenders seeking additional training. Each 50-person session is open to the public (ages 21+) and is led by Liquor Lab’s CCO (Chief Cocktail Officer) Freddie Sarkis, who is responsible for contributing to major programs such as Celeste, Bordel, and the Broken Shaker in Chicago, and refined his craft in Miami, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Budapest. Sarkis was also a national brand ambassador for Beefeater and Plymouth Gin. In addition to Freddie leading sessions at Liquor Lab, many world-class guest bartenders and specialists will contribute to events and themed nights, as well as a few surprise guests.
The experiential 2-hour sessions range from step-by-step Margarita making to classes dedicated to crafting classics such as Manhattans and the Old Fashioned. In the Bourbon vs. Whisky instruction period, for example, six whiskeys are sampled, and the lead bartender shows attendees how to craft two cocktails, as they follow along with bar tools, spirits, mixers, etc., and are enriched with the history of the spirit, in addition to the evolution of drink itself. Participants enjoy their beverages while socializing with other pupils and the instructor.
Additional class examples include, Mezcal, Mezcal, Mezcal (in which attendees try six types of the spirit and mix two beverages), and Japanese Whiskey & Ice Carving (where a spirit specialist guides guests through a tasting of four to six varieties and operate a Japanese Ice Press or a paring knife), among others. Wine and craft beer sessions are also on the calendar for those interested in brews and vines.