Cocktail Class Infuses Drink Know-How

{Rob Drinkenstein is now bartending at Table 508. La Capitale has closed.}

Oh My.  Where did I get this delicious pear-infused vodka I'm sipping on?  Oh that's right, I MADE it!  Sweet!  On Monday night, my new BFF, Rob the Bartender, a.k.a. RobDrinkenstein, taught a class of local foodies (via La Capitale and held at Andaluzthe essentials of infusing spirits and making great cocktails.  I was one of the lucky few (about 20 of us) to have heard about the sold-out class on Twitter and was able to secure two spots for my wife and I to attend. A perfect date night!

The first step in any cocktail infusion class is to have one in hand, so Rob started us off with some cocktails using his own infused creations.  Hot and Cold Margarita, Manhattan, Now and Then, Spiced Apple Brandy Mojito, and Old Fashioned were our choices.  As he made each drink, he gave the ingredients and information about each, and described the process for making it.  Once we had an opportunity to loosen up, Rob went over the essential equipment needed for a home-bar to make infused spirits and using them in cocktails, and then gave us a pre-taste of a citrus-infused tequila.  After a taster of the tequila, he added serrano peppers to the infusion tank and re-filled it with more tequila.

We then spent some time learning the tricks of making an attractive infusion tank by layering oranges, grapefruits, limes, and lemons -- it's not only for show, it serves a purpose too (I'll have to refer to my wife's notes to remember what that is though).  Then after that grueling lesson, it was time for another cocktail and some snacks courtesy of La Capitale.

Time flew by, and the last part of the class was spent drilling Rob with questions -- "what about infusing with mint?" and "how do you make your own bitters?" and "where's my drink?"  That last one he answered by pouring us a post-taste of the new serrano-pepper infused tequila that had been sitting for about an hour by this time.  HOT!

My wife and I entered this class as total novices when it comes to making good cocktails.  Everything we knew, which wasn't much, came directly from recipes in The Bartender's Guide book.  We walked out of the class feeling confident that we can go home and immediately start making our own infusions and delicious cocktails (and this pear-infused vodka proves it).  You can find infusion recipes all over the web.  You can find how-to guides, read books, and do your own research on how to infuse spirits with herbs and learn how to use them to make cocktails.  What you don't get when you do that, is full-access to that inside experience from someone who has spent years making good drinks great.  What a real treat it was for us to have the opportunity to attend that class.  If Rob and La Capitale decide to offer it again, I highly recommend you jump at the chance.

For more information about future classes, I recommend pestering Rob via Twitter.  I don't know if there's plans to do it again, but if there's enough interest there's just no way he can refuse.  He's available at

La Capitale 
508 State St.
Salem, Oregon



Rebekah said...

Rob did say that he hoped to offer seasonal cocktail classes each season, which would be shorter (about an hour) and would teach people to make a season specific drink, like candy cane martinis around Christmas and such. Those ought to be really fun too!

Salem Man said...

What do you do with the liquor infused fruit?

KandN said...

My thought was to use it to make fruit cake, but Rob suggested that might not be the best idea. You'd have to take your guest's keys before they imbibed...I mean ate your cake.

Amber said...

Rob said the fruit takes on all the bitterness from the alcohol so it's really not suggested for consumption. :)

Anonymous said...

You can definitely eat the fruit if you want, but it is awful. Just speaking from experience.

Thanks for a great class Rob! And great, VN, now everyone else will fill up the next class thanks to your post, no hope for us! ;)


Anonymous said...

In my long ago college days we ate the fruit out of the jungle juice and it sure didn't taste good, but it seemed to have absorbed a lot of alcohol. That could be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective...

Rob the Bartender said...

The fruit does in fact absorb the bitter of the alcohol so I suggest throwing it away when finished. Remember you are not using the fruit just once, more like a half dozen times so any wonderful fruit flavor you had hoped for when eating is long gone. Hooray to KandN, @sophiehawls and Amber for remembering all that! I had a great time and I thank you all.
And if there is enough interest I would love to do it again!
Keep infusing!