In this 4-part lecture series, trace the history of the American cocktail, exploring drink recipes and techniques along the way.
Join cocktail expert and award-winning author Derek Brown for an exploration of the American cocktail, using mixology and anthropology to unearth the histories distilled in a drink. In this course, we’ll trace the cocktail from its origins to the present day—exploring how cocktails have evolved to not only meet the place and time they’re born into, but also to exist as a record of that history. Over the course of four weeks, we’ll cover everything from distillation in the Americas to mindful mixology (low- or no-ABV cocktails) in the age of COVID—hearing from guest writers, bartenders, and distillers along the way. Each session will zoom in on the history, recipes, and techniques of two drinks, which you’ll be encouraged to make alongside Derek during class.
This course is for home mixologists, amateur historians and anthropologists, and anyone interested in understanding the role of drinking and drinks in U.S. history and culture.
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Syllabus at a Glance
There are four total sessions included in this purchase, each lasting for 1.5 hours on four consecutive Thursdays beginning May 6.
Session 1 (5/6, 7:30–9 PM ET): The Birth of the Cocktail - Fish House Punch + Old Fashioned
Session 2 (5/13, 7:30–9 PM ET ): The Golden Age of Cocktails - Dry Martini + Daiquiri
Session 3 (5/20, 7:30–9 PM ET): Prohibition and its Aftermath - Scofflaw + Thompson’s Egg Phosphate
Session 4 (5/27, 7:30–9 PM ET): The Platinum Age and Beyond - Oaxacan Old Fashioned + The Getaway
Outside of class, students will be encouraged to read articles and practice techniques used in class with an independent cocktail project. Recipes and shopping lists will be sent out in advance of each class.
We currently offer tiered ticket pricing in an effort to increase accessibility for all students, regardless of economic situation. Our lecture series are available at three ticket prices, with a limited number of no-pay spots available for students who could not otherwise participate. This model is intended to support a wider range of students as well as our instructors. To learn more about our tiered sliding scale pricing model, please visit our FAQ page.
Atlas Obscura Online Courses
Our online courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. Courses can take one of two forms: Seminars are intimate, interactive classes—capped at nine to 25 students—exploring topics and crafts through discussion, workshops, assignments, and in-class activities. We also offer lecture series that can be attended live, or viewed via a recording that will be shared within 72 hours after each session airs. Class recordings for lecture series will be available with a temporary password for up to two weeks following the final session of the course.
To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit www.atlasobscura.com/online-courses.
For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.
Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to the class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access your course via Zoom on each scheduled date and time.
A native Washingtonian with deep ties to the city, Derek Brown is a leading spirits and cocktail expert best known for his work at Washington, D.C.’s 2017 Spirited Award-winning "Best American Cocktail Bar," Columbia Room. He is the author of Spirits, Sugar, Water, Bitters: How the Cocktail Conquered the World—which earned him "Author of the Year" at the 2020 Nightclub & Bar Show Awards—and a forthcoming book on no- and low- alcohol cocktails, Mindful Mixology: A Comprehensive Guide to No- And Low-Alcohol Cocktails with 60 Recipes, slated for release January 2022.
Derek’s passion for spirits and cocktails has taken him across the globe where he’s learned about the integral role food and drink play in culture, customs, and values of communities worldwide. He’s written about drinks and drinking for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Vox, among other publications. You can follow him on Instagram (@drinkcompany) and Twitter (@ideasimprove).
This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording after each session airs. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session airs, we will email all enrolled students a recording of the session, which they can watch using a temporary password for up to two weeks after the course concludes.
In most cases, instructors will use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Classroom, instructors will be using this platform to post resources, discussion questions, and assignments, when applicable.
We provide closed captioning for all of our courses, as well as transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at email@example.com if you have any questions, requests, or access needs.
Participants must be of legal drinking age to enroll in this course.