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Flavour Camp: Cloud House cocktail class

I make a lot of cocktails for fun. I do it as I please and for myself, often sharing my creations online. Although never thought to take an educational course on how to actually make one “properly”. That is until today, when Reece Sims of Flavour Camp hosted this cocktail workshop. This is the first in her art of bartending series, featuring Cloud House.

The was borne from her workshop at this year’s Science of Cocktails, and the suggestion of guests who wished they could make more cocktails with her. This was that class.

She spoke to her previous experience as a bartender, offering industry tips and her own tricks. How to mix for the ideal cocktail, then how to make it your own. I learned a lot.

We would make 4 cocktails in total using her 5 rules for any award winning, restaurant quality cocktail. They are as follows.

Sticking to simple combinations with no more than 6 ingredients. Most have 2-5 on average, similar to the ones we would be making today. The reason is two fold, not only is it easy to remember, but convenient to make if you tending the bar or entertaining friends at home.

The second rule is to use the right ratio. Where I have always just free poured, I now learned that ideal mixes have the same amount between spirit, bitters, and syrup. We would utilize both the “golden ratio” and the “equal parts ratio” in our cocktails below. (More on that later.)

The third rule is to have your cocktail eye catching, leaning on basic techniques and garnishes, instead of anything unnecessarily outlandish; which I am prone to. We would learn how to create the “Classic twist, Ribbon, and Fan” using an orange we would peel and slice ourselves.

The next step is to be able to have it made anywhere, anytime. If it isn’t easy and accessible for an average bar to recreate, it won’t be made.

And the last step was to have it be original. You can do this by taking a basic cocktail recipe and changing at least two ingredients to make it your own original cocktail.

Our class would centre around Cloud House, a coffee flavoured rum, in the coffee liquor category. It was released in November of last year and can now be found at Legacy Liquor Store, whose event space we were taking up today.

What further sets Cloud House apart is the amount of coffee in each bottle, the little sugar added, and the fact that it has a higher ABV than its competitor. It is intended to be used as a base in any cocktail, and not just a modifier. There are no additives and all ingredients are sourced naturally, with the macerating of coffee beans directly in the rum, then slowly drawing out the spirit. They use 1,000 coffee beans to make each bottle.

Cloud House was enjoyable neat, like a spiked cold brew with hints of vanilla, salted caramel, oak spice, rum, nuts, and red berry. There was no hiding the caffeine and sugar here, this was a full bodied coffee beverage.

As for the class itself, each cocktail was made together as a class. Reece would set the stage, walking us through the steps, with each attendee following along at their own station. We also had the recipes before us, but was inevitably invited to make our cocktails the way we wanted them, using the options before us.

The first cocktail was the “Cloud House & Tonic”. Two ingredients in a glass, adding our coffee rum to Fever Tree tonic by way of slow pouring over a spoon. Here, we learned that the spirit was more buoyant and it can float on the tonic for quite the picturesque glass. This was by far the easiest cocktail I have ever made.

The “Cloudy Martini” utilized the Golden ratio of 2:1:1 with 2 parts spirit, 1 part sour or bitters, and 1 part sweetening agent. This is the same ratio used in making other popular cocktails like a Martini, Daiquiri, Gimlet, Whisky Sour, Margarita, Sidecar, or Lemon Drop.

As a rule of thumb bartenders tend to add in the spirit last. This is so that if they make a mistake, they are able to discard their work within wasting any of the alcohol; which tends to be the most expensive ingredient in the mix.

Worth mentioning is that the cold brew coffee used in this recipe featured the same beans that are used in Cloud House. To it we added our featured spirit and our choice of syrup between simple, vanilla, or orgeat; which has an almond and orange blossom quality.

We would learn to taste by scooping with our mixing spoon and pouring our cocktail on the back of our hands to try.

Then get a crash course on shaker etiquette. The industry typically fills the smaller end with ingredients and ice. In this case leaving enough room for our mix to forth. To seal you close the shaker at a slant, and not upright. Then give it a good knock on its bottom, against the table to secure.

Then to shake, you face the opening away from you in case it explodes. You shake until the exterior is frosted and cold to the touch. The common technique is to shake away from you from high, mid, to low repeating . Then when done, you unlock your shaker with a hard slap using the palm of your hand to the side of said shaker.

Once poured through a strainer into our coup, we would got creative with our garnishes. We made the cocktail version of latte art; using drop of bitters on the foam to make hearts with a tooth pick.

Cocktail number three was “Three Peaks” mixing Cloud House with Select Aperitivo, which is like Campari; and our choice of secondary spirit between whisky, scotch, or gin. A Negroni uses gin and the Boulevardier uses whisky. All done in the
Equal parts ratio 1:1:1:1. Base spirit, bitter, sweet, and citrus. This was all poured straight into the glass over a king cube, and stirred to finish with the curved part of our spoon against the glass. 55 is the optimum number of rotations.

To finish we looked to one of our pre-sliced orange peels. Warming it up between our fingers and expression the orange oils over the drink and around the rim.

Our last cocktail gave us the most decorative freedom. The “Tropical Haze” featured coffee and pineapple juice, which are both natural foaming agents. Cloud House, scotch, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and syrup all into the shaker. Shake then poured out, ice and all “dirty dump” style. This is then topped with crushed ice, along side of your choice of fresh or dried citrus, coffee beans, and coconut chips as garnish. There were also coloured straws and fun mini umbrellas and drink toppers to further the theme.

In closing, this was a fun work shop. I enjoyed being able to make our own drinks and then have them as we made more. And I definitely walked away with skills that I will be utilizing. Like her other Flavour Camp session, this only makes my spirit writing and crafting better.

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