Review: BAT x Arbikie Cocktail Masterclass

Does a spot of mixology ever go amiss on a Thursday evening? If I was ever in any doubt, BAT’s Cocktail Masterclass wiped it clean away. This event, created in partnership with Arbikie Highland Estate and held at St Andrews Brewing Co, is BAT’s fastest yet to sell out. And I understand why: it was just the mid-week pick-me-up that I didn’t know I needed. 

Bartenders Against Temperance is St Andrews’ very own cocktail society. You would be forgiven, then, for thinking that it might be a touch pretentious. However, this is a society that does not take itself too seriously: when I asked about the origins of its name, BAT’s President, Katie Campbell, explained with a sly smile that it was a good alternative to Cocktail Society, and the inevitable abbreviation this would produce…it took me a minute to get it, but she’s not wrong there. 

A hubbub of happy voices filled the room as the committee put the finishing touches to booths that they had transformed into impressively well kitted-out cocktail stations. Four beverages were on the agenda, each with a different Arbikie spirit used as a base, and each with a pleasingly punny name: the AK’s Martini, the Strawbikie, the Aviatrix, and my personal favourite, the Chilli Scotsman.

A representative from Arbikie spoke about their business, which is based in Arbroath and operates a ‘field to bottle’ operation: all their ingredients are grown locally. I love a field and I love a bottle and therefore I was, as I so often am, sold. 

I joined a lovely group of girls as they made their way from booth to booth, watching first a demo and then having a go at it making the drinks themselves. This was the best bit of the evening. I chatted to committee members and supped various delightful tasters while the girls shook cocktails like their lives depended on it, drank from glasses whose stems had fallen off, and generally had a merry old time. At one point I was drinking something that involved a dehydrated hibiscus petal and I have never felt so much like a lady in all my life. Sidney Hobbs, who joined the society this year, assured me that creativity is encouraged as she urged me to try a citrusy creation that she had proudly named ‘Week 5’. 

Half way through the event, we took a break from imbibing to cleanse our palates with a range of comestible digestibles. While we tucked in, one of the founders of BAT, Kyle Van Oosterum, who is also the current Vice President, explained that their philosophy is about drinking better and drinking more responsibly. As he pointed out, at this event you got the chance to make and enjoy four cocktails for the price of three pablos (£15). As much as I love a cheeky pab, I have to agree with him that this is indeed a very good deal, and undeniably classier. 

If you fancy getting involved, and I would recommend that you do, keep an eye on BAT’s facebook page for updates: information about an upcoming event hosted at Rogue will be coming soon, and for those of you who are feeling furtively festive, you won’t have long to wait before BAT’s Christmas masterclass and dinner…