A few months ago, I had lunch with an old friend, James Rohrbach. We’re both liberal arts nerds and love connecting the dots between different disciplines. He told me about his new venture, Fluent City, which offers language and culture classes for insatiably curious individuals like me.

He and his team were nice enough to let me be a guest at their “All Shook Up” class, which teaches you  all about foundational cocktails skills – how to read a menu, stock a home bar, and even make some cocktails of your own.

Working on Dipsology, I learned a ton about cocktails simply by going out to hundreds of bars and befriending some of the world’s best bartenders. It’s taken me years of imbibing to learn that I love negronis, gin martinis, and drinking whiskey neat. Fluent City has successfully taken what I spent years learning and compressed it into a 4-week fast track.

Their approach to teaching you cocktail basics is fun, practical, and social:

  • Learn from the experts. My class was led by Robby Nelson who works at Long Island Bar and Prime Meats along with Channing Centeno from Momofuku Ko. They belong to a class of bartenders who are committed to the craft of cocktails and really put in the time to train and hone their skills.
  • Learn by tasting. You show up to class and you’re greeted with a smile and a cocktail. We kicked things off with a tasty daiquiri. If you haven’t had a *real daiquiri* (not a frozen one you get on Bourbon Street or a sour mix one from TGIFridays), you haven’t lived!
  • Learn by doing. After a quick demonstration, Robby gave us an overview of some basic ingredients and tools – a Boston shaker, jigger, simple syrup, etc. We then headed to our own cocktail stations, which were fully stocked with everything we needed to start makin’ and shakin’.


  • Make new friends.  I don’t have the data to back this up, but if I had to classify cocktail drinkers, they’re more curious and open-minded than the average person. The entire vibe of the class was judgement free. Everyone I met was there to learn and have fun.
  • Practice at home. We were all sent home with a tote bag containing our very own cocktail shaker! I’ll admit I rarely make my own cocktails at home, but I’m inspired to practice more after tonight’s session. I think everyone should start with the classics, specifically a good old fashioned.

img_5657If you’re looking to learn something new that will enhance the way you eat, drink, or experience the world, I highly recommend you check out Fluent City’s classes. And if you’re in New York City on Saturday, December 10 and want a taste of intellectual imbibing, they’re hosting a Bloody Mary pop-up class at the Django.  Cheers and happy cocktailing! 


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