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Going to cocktail school with Evan Turner: Your dinner party musts


Evan Turner
Photo by Kimberly Park
mulled wine
mulled wine
cocktails
blackberry cocktail
pour spout cocktail
waiter
Courtesy photo
wine label
wine label
Places-Drinks-The Tasting Room-River Oaks
Leeah Sheridan
infusion bottle
infusion bottle

Evan Turner has a mission: To help people enjoy food and cocktails wherever they are — even if that's at home. That's why Turner, the GM and co-owner of Branch Water Tavern, is launching a series of classes called "Drinking with Evan" to help people get the most out of their drinks, from the academic (a serious whiskey tasting in January) to more casual affairs, like the first lesson Saturday on how to entertain at home.

CultureMap's Sarah Rufca met Turner at Branch Water to get a sneak peek at some of his favorite tricks for throwing a great party — while enjoying it, too.

One of Turner's favorite easy drinks formulas (especially when it's chilly outside) is mulled wine — just ladle and go, no fuss required.

Mulled wine, like other punches, gets high parks for dinner parties because they can be prepared ahead of time and still impress guests.

For single serving cocktails, Turner advises hosts to keep it simple, and set up glasses with things like ice and garnishes ahead of time. Then it's just about a quick pour.

Turner's easy-to follow recipe for a winning beverage? A spirit, a sweetening agent and a citrus flavor. Or for bonus points, try his simple yet elegant vodka-elderflower-blackberry concoction.

How to make drinks like a pro? Turner recommends pour spouts — they aren't just for bartenders anymore — and of course, plenty of practice.

Want to spend more time drinking than mixing drinks? Turner says skip the caterers and turn to a server you trust.

Even if you aren't the host, there are ways to solve life's drinking dilemmas. Love wine, but never know what to pick? Turner suggests snapping a shot of a label you like on your phone's camera.

Don't forget the back of the wine label, too. Turner says you can experiment without the risk by remembering importers of wines you enjoy.

When in doubt, turn to the experts. Turner recommends developing a relationship with a wine vendor the way you go back to a hairdresser or mechanic. One of his picks? The Tasting Room, pictured.

Looking for a party gift that's more personal? Turner says infused spirits are both easy and impressive, focusing on infusions in his December lesson.

"Drinking with Evan" classes kick off at Branch Water Tavern on Saturday with new topics every month. The classes are on the first Saturday of every month from 1-3 p.m. and feature cocktail tastings and botes from BWT chef David Grossman for $35 per person.

The Drinking With Evan Series: November 6 – Holiday Cocktails for Easy Entertaining December 4 – Making Spirits Bright (Creating infusions for holiday gift giving) January 8 – All American Whiskeys February 5 – Drinks to Snuggle With (Hot toddies, warm punches, etc.) March 5 – Springtime Tipples April 2 - Prohibition Cocktails...the Classics