Sunday, April 1, 2012
Classic Cocktails at H. Harper Station
When I saw the Scoutmob Hand-Picked "Crafting Classic Cocktails: Mixology Class at H. Harper Station" e-mail in my inbox just a few days before my birthday, it seemed like it would be a fun way to celebrate. Unfortunately, these classes were so popular, the one for that weekend sold out within minutes, but I was able to grab a spot for the St. Patricks day class. I had been wanting to check this place out for a while, plus I'm always looking to learn new things, especially when it comes to food and drinks, so I was really excited. The reality was even better than I had anticipated.
H. Harper Station used to be the Atlanta & West Point Railroad Station and is owned by Jerry Slater, who taught the class. It's a great vintage space with a fun vibe that is clearly a popular spot with the residents of Reynoldstown. Of the people sharing my table at the class, five lived in the neighborhood.
I had expected from the wording of the e-mail that we would be participating in the cocktail crafting, but it turned out to be a demonstration class, not that I'm complaining. Jerry did an excellent job teaching the class, he is incredibly knowledgeable on the subject of cocktails, and peppered the class with history and tips, recommendations and ideas for substitutions. After he showed us how to make each cocktail, he gave us a chance to ask questions, then we each got one to sample. They also brought out a great selection of snacks for us to munch on, like the candied bacon CrackerJacks.
Our first cocktail was a margarita, one of my all time favorites. No neon green mixes here, it's simply tequila, orange liquor, lime, agave nectar and salt. Jerry's not a big fan of salted rims, so he adds just a pinch of smoked sea salt to the drink instead. I'm a salt person, so I expected to miss it, but was completely satisfied with it exactly as served.
The deviled eggs with pickled Benton's bacon were a big hit at our table and were polished off in short order. They were flavorful with a nice horseradish kick and great smokiness from the bacon.
Our next drink was the Aviation, a historic cocktail that is experiencing a revival in popularity as some of the specialized ingredients, that have long been forgotten, are being brought back by artisan producers. It's a gin based cocktail with lemon, Creme de Yvette violet liqueur and maraschino. I noticed that some of the guys at the other tables seemed to be hesitant to sip on such a pink drink, but it was their loss, as it was very tasty.
The new chef, Joseph Ward, formerly of Woodfire Grill, put some fun twists on old southern favorites. The pimento cheese, for example, was topped with a few florets of pickled cauliflower, a great foil for the rich, creamy cheese. I could have happily devoured the entire plate full.
The house made BBQ potato chips were served slightly warm with excellent blue cheese dip. They were so good, it was hard to limit myself to just two, but there were seven other people at the table. I may have had to get an order just for myself at the bar after the class.
I will admit that I was not that excited about our final cocktail, as I am not a bourbon drinker, but I'll try almost anything once, so I took a sip. Then another. Then another. Until my glass was empty. It was surprisingly delicious, with notes of nutmeg, perhaps from the bitters? Lemony and sweet, I think I may actually add bourbon to my bar so I can recreate this at home.
At $35 this class was such a great deal, 3 amazing cocktails, tasty southern snacks, I would highly recommend it to anyone. In fact, there may potentially be another series of classes coming down the pipeline. One of the other mixologists told me they may do an advanced class where they will cover more complicated cocktails. If they do, I hope to see you there with me!