A few weeks ago, I was able to cross two more things off my “Before I Turn 25” list:

  • Take a bartending class
  • Invent an awesome drink

For some reason when I was in high school, I thought the coolest thing in the world was to work as a bartender at Cactus Club. Seriously. I was so obsessed that, a year later, when the restaurant was recruiting at my university, I went and got myself hired. Unfortunately, a job offer at a public relations agency quickly followed and I quit Cactus before the ink had even dried on my contract.

Different bottles of liquor lined up on shelves at the Metropolitan Bartending School in Vancouver, BC

It seemed like my dream of becoming the ultimate cocktail slinger would never happen until one day, a Groupon for the Bar Chef program at Metropolitan Bartending School appeared in my inbox. Suddenly, with just one click, I was going to bartending school (for a few hours anyway).

Before this program, I thought that pouring a bunch of shots into a glass and not gagging when you drank it counted as a cocktail. But our teacher, Micah Dew, showed us that great cocktails actually incorporate a lot more than just booze. He took us to a nearby grocery store and instructed us to get whatever fruits and vegetables we wanted.

Different fruits used in the Bar Chef program Karra Barron took at the Metropolitan Bartending School in Vancouver, BC

Yes, that’s right. Fresh fruits and veggies for cocktails! The Bar Chef program teaches you how to make delicious and exciting drinks with nearly anything you can imagine: blueberries, cucumbers, squash, thyme, rosemary, fennel, figs, honey, bitters… the list goes on and on.

Micah was a really great teacher and after clueing us into the chef part of bartending, he gave us ample time to create our own drinks. My partner Craig and I whipped up two delicious cocktails: The Fennel Mix and Twisted Apple Pie.

Karra's Fennel Mix cocktail made at a class she took in the Metropolitan Bartending School in Vancouver, BC

The first drink was made with a mix of gin, fennel, strawberries and Angostura bitters. We put too many of the ripe strawberries in it, which kind of drowned out the licorice flavour of the fennel, but otherwise it was pretty good.

Twisted Apple Pie cocktail made by Karra Barron while doing the Bar Chef program at Metropolitan Bartending School in Vancouver, BC

Karra and her Bar Chef partner Craig at the Metropolitan Bartending School in Vancouver

Craig and I (that’s us toasting our genius above) really loved the Twisted Apple Pie though. This one is made with muddled apples, a few orange pieces, maple whiskey, and a bit of ginger ale. I rimmed the glass with some cinnamon sugar and topped the drink with a dash of cinnamon right before serving. It tasted just like an apple pie with a fresh burst of orange lingering in the background.

I loved taking this program and learned tons in just four hours. With holiday party season on the horizon, you can bet I’ll be whipping up something a little more adventurous than my usual Vodka Seven!

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