Travel Story Mixology magic with London cocktail-making class

The UK capital is an appropriate place to learn the art of mixology, considering it is believed to have been the birthplace of the cocktail more than 200 years ago. 

I’ve just been handed a big bag of methamphetamine. This is a first for me but, rather than the translucent shards typically associated with meth, this product is a sky-blue colour, copying the famous version of the drug created by character Walter White in Breaking Bad.

Under instruction, I place the bag of blue meth inside the rim of a beaker filled with a similarly coloured cocktail called a “Heisenberg”, in reference to White’s drug-manufacturing alter ego. This is one of the first cocktails I’ve ever made and I’m pleased with the outcome, thanks to the expert tutelage from Balazs Gocsei, leading my one-on-one mixology class here in London.

The Heisenberg is an edgy creation, just one of the many unusual cocktails on offer at London Cocktail Club, a franchise which has five branches in central London, including this one at Goodge Street. 

LCC runs daily cocktail workshops, which are equal measures lesson and party, and though it is only 4pm on a Friday afternoon, I’m starting to feel a little buzzed — not from the meth, which is fake, but rather the super-strong cocktails Balazs is encouraging me to consume. 

London is an appropriate place to learn mixology, considering it is believed to have been the birthplace of the cocktail more than 200 years ago. 

The US was for a long time considered to have invented the cocktail, with the first known reference to the beverage appearing in a New York newspaper from 1806. Recently, however, it emerged that the word cocktail was printed in 1797 in an edition of London’s Morning Post and Gazetteer newspaper. 

London is now undoubtedly one of the world’s cocktail hubs, home to countless hip bars and clubs, which are constantly innovating in the field of mixology.

Balazs is an old pro when it comes to leading these lessons. 

Having lived in London for several years since moving from Romania, he says he has taught more of these workshops than he can remember. The practice shows, as he is not only slick and professional but very entertaining. 

Balazs spins a tequila bottle behind his back and high into the air before deftly catching it one-handed and immediately pouring out a shot.

“OK, let’s make the Heisenberg,” he says. First I pour into the metal mixing canister a 30ml shot of Tequila Blanco. “You need two shots, you’re a very big man,” Balazs says, so I comply. 

On top of that, I pour a 25ml measure of Blue Velvet Falernum (a liqueur from the Caribbean), followed by 20ml of agave syrup and 20ml of lime juice.

I shake the canister liberally and then empty its contents into the glass beaker. The meth is added as a cheeky garnish and there it is, a well-made Heisenberg.

Next up, I create a strawberry daiquiri. It’s more complicated than the Heisenberg but even more delicious. I finish off with the classic mojito. This is the best of the lot. It’s also very strong. I polish it off, shake Balazs’ hand, bid him farewell and wobble out into central London during Friday rush hour.

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