Veeno Stratford introduces cocktail masterclasses
[Disclosure: I was invited to Veeno in Stratford-upon-Avon to try their new cocktail masterclasses]
When you think of Veeno, you’d be forgiven for thinking first of wine. The brand calls itself a chain of wine bars and restaurants across the UK and makes a lot of its very own family vineyard in Sicily. No problems from me there and safe to say I’ve enjoyed more than a few visits to its branch in Stratford’s Bell Court for a glass or two of vino and some of their cold meats and cheeses.
But it seems I’ve been missing out. Alongside its extensive wine list, Veeno has a fairly big cocktail list and apparently is as popular for those as for its wine – especially at weekends. Grouped into categories including ‘fabulously fruity’, ‘tangy tongue teasers’ and classics, there are all the faves along with some of their own creations like the Ne-GREEN-i and a Ferrero Rocher inspired drink.
The latest addition from Veeno Stratford is to take our love of an ‘experience’ and combine it with our never-ending joy at a cocktail or seven. They already do a range of wine tasting experiences, afternoon teas and bottomless pizza and drinks deals and now they’re introducing cocktail masterclasses as a new experience for the list.
Priced at £44.95 per person, the new masterclasses lead you through the process of making at least five cocktails, showing you all the tips and tricks then letting you have a go for yourself before drinking them, obvs. If you’re worried about the amount of alcohol, a board of meats and cheeses is included in the price, so you’ve got everything you need for a fun night out.
I headed over to Veeno in Stratford to try out one of their classes on a quiet Sunday night. While a few small parties enjoyed classes of wine with food platters or a quiet beer and a catch-up, my friend Tor and I (if you don’t follow @stratford_tor you probably should) perched up at the dedicated cocktail masterclass station.
There we embarked on a whistlestop tour through styles, skills and history under the expert tutelage of Ash, whose passion is impossible to miss, and presentation style just right for an evening that’s both informative and fun. Just don’t call him a mixologist – he’d rather keep things a bit more down to earth.
We start with a classic pornstar martini, because who doesn’t want to learn how to make one of those, then work our way through a range of drinks – some shaken, some ‘built’ so we can hone our skills. Along the way we learn general hacks, from putting cheaper ingredients in first to avoid wastage if you knock something over, to how to shake a cocktail properly.
The journey takes us through the history of drinks including the Dark & Stormy and the Amaretto Sour, as well as the more personal stories Ash shares of the story behind Veeno’s own Taylor Swift-inspired Midnights – a glitter-filled glass of darkness designed to be the midnight sky in a glass.
We sip, slurp and taste our way through all of them, first watching Ash and his colleague Tom whipping them up with all the professional flair you’d expect from people who have made more cocktails than they care to admit on a busy Saturday night in Stratford, and then clumsily try to replicate their efforts, saved from failure by Ash and his watchful eye.
We nibble on snacks to line the stomach and taste our way through a collection of styles, colours and flavours that include a Blackberry Margarita and Gingerbread Martini, punctuated by giggles, questions and teaching with a healthy glug of fun along the way.
It’s a fun few hours and we finish in agreement that this is a good addition to the offering at Veeno. At around £45 a head, which includes an evening’s worth of cocktails, it’s not bad value for something a bit different. The setting at Veeno is delightful in both daytimes and evenings and its location in the heart of Bell Court gives you plenty of options for dining and more drinking right on the doorstep.
We live in a time where sitting on your laurels simply isn’t an option for any business in hospitality – whether small independent or bigger chain – and it’s nice to see that the team at Veeno are most definitely not doing that. ‘Experiences’ seem to be where it’s at these days for many people, so how better to keep your cocktail-drinking customers happy than to give them just that – all the adventure of crafting your own cocktails with none of the risk thanks to the fact you’ve got someone removing the chance of failure.
Another nice addition to the scene in Stratford, and worth a look either for fun with friends, a special celebration, or simply to learn a bit more about cocktails. Contact Veeno for more details and to book, and in the meantime, here’s a little video peek of what you can look