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St. Regis Cocktail Class (Image: St. Regis Hotel)

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Make your home cocktailing game strong with these 5 hands-on classes

If you don’t know sweet vermouth from dry vermouth and have no idea when you should shake a drink versus stir one, don’t fret. Hotels, bars and distilleries in the DMV are offering classes (including a few new ones) that demystify mixology and aim to make cocktailing less of a conundrum.

Get a beverag-education at these five spots:

MGM National Harbor Hotel, Resort & Casino

The swanky Lobby Bar at the National Harbor resort and casino is now offering interactive demonstrations of classic libations. Led by one of the resident mixologists, the classes teaches guests the history of American cocktail culture over the past 150 years, as well as how to glean the skills needed to mix up six drinks: the Manhattan, Mai Tai, Moscow Mule, Aviation, Sidecar and Hemingway Daiquiri. Each attendee receives a one-liter Woodford Reserve oak barrel that they can use at home to age spirits or make barrel-aged cocktails, as well as a booklet with drink recipes and history. The cost (exclusive of gratuity) is $95 per person, $160 for a couple and $400 for a group of five, and classes are held Monday through Friday from 1:30 pm to 3 pm. Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance through the MGM National Harbor Beverage Department via email at mixology101@mgmnationalharbor.com, and may be booked up to five people per class.

St. Regis Hotel

Nothing says February romance like a flute of bubbly; even sexier is mixing it with aromatic ingredients and gorgeous garnishes. On two dates in February, the D.C. luxury hotel is giving guests a chance to hone their craft cocktail skills at classes highlighting Champagne cocktails including the French 75, which mixes it with gin, lemon and sugar; the Champagne Cocktail, where a bitters-soaked sugar cube is topped with bubbly, and an effervescent libation inspired by the cherry blossoms. Classes will be held at the main bar on Friday, February 9 and Friday, February 16 from 4-6 pm, and will include light bites and a parting gift. The cost is $85 per person, and can be booked by calling 202.638.2626.

Catoctin Creek Distilling

The Purcellville craft distillery is proud to present the third year of its extremely popular educational series on the history and the art of the cocktail. Led by founder and distiller Scott Harris and held in the tasting room from 7-9 pm, the classes teach guests the history and construction of classic and modern sips with samples for sharing. Afterwards, everyone is encouraged to buy bottles of their award-winning rye, gin and brandy to take home and practice their “studies.” Still left in the series are classes on January 26 (New Orleans Mojo: The Sophisticated and Complex Beauty of the Sazerac); February 2 (Moonshine in American Culture: 1930 to Present-Day); and February 9 (Toddies and Warm Cocktails.) Whether you are a cocktail newbie or aficionado, Harris promises you a good time. The cost is $35 per person and includes drinks; to book your spot, click here.

Wisdom

Owner Erik Holzherr (also known as The Gintender) was the first bartender in D.C. to offer educational classes on spirits and cocktails. Get together a few libation-loving friends, and book a customized, private class. Most popular is a general one about booze basic like liquor history, fermentation, distillation, Tequila, gin, vermouth, whiskey, bitters and the most iconic and least understood cocktail: the Martini. The class includes the lesson, ingredients, gratuity and plenty of drinks; for 2-3 people, it costs $99 each, for 4-5, $95 each and 6-8, $89 each. There is a two person minimum to book; classes of ten or more are possible but subject to additional cost and scheduled on a case-by-case basis. To book a class, email dcwisdom@gmail.com with “cocktail class” in the subject line. Most are scheduled at 6 pm, and later classes are possible on Sundays and weekdays. There are still a few slots left on February 9 at 9 pm and February 17 at 9 pm.

Church & State

Brand new hour-long Sunday School classes taught by bartender Lindsay March will focus on the history, preparation and riffs on one iconic drink. Learn something new for your next party or outing, and stay after the class to grab another drink and chat about what you learned. The $65 per person ticket includes the class, three complementary cocktails and gratuity. On January 28 the theme will be Rye, Whiskey and the Manhattan Cocktail, followed by Bourbon Whiskey and the Old Fashioned on February 25 and Rum and the Daiquiri on March 25. To purchase tickets, click here.

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