Last Thursday we held our third CLASSY AF alcohol-free cocktail making masterclass! The event took place at the amazing XO KL in the heart of Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown and once again, the tasty, beautiful drinks took centre stage. This time, they were created by two of KL's best mixologists Iman and McKay Jiplin (specifically requested since we knew him from our first event). We had a full house around the bar with 30 participants eager to learn the craft of AF cocktail making!
How did CLASSY AF come about?
3 months into my alcohol-free journey, in March 2022, my dear friend Ling sent me a text from a bar in Chinatown called Concubine. It went something like: "Hey, I was just talking to Nico (the co-owner of Concubine). He said they have done cocktail masterclasses here - perhaps you could organise an alcohol-free class"? Later that week I got in touch with Nico who liked the idea - although something like this had never been done before! Thankfully, Ling was more than happy to help organise the event - and since then, we have been CLASSY AF partners :-) I do confess that I was a bit nervous in the days leading up to the tasting session for our first event! I was afraid that we'd end up with sugary, boring, predictable mocktails. So I sent McKay a brief: "No orange juice and grenadine, no Shirley Temple or Virgin Mojito or anything like that". And boy did he deliver! We were blown away from the very first sip of what later became the iconic "Laura the Naughty Nun". Fresh, beautiful and very tasty!
From our first event at Concubine KL in May 2022.
Since that first Masterclass in May 2022, we held a second one (Cocktails & Dreams - inspired by the movie Cocktail) in September at Junglebird KL. Head mixologist Josh Ivanovich taught us interesting processes such as lacto-fermentation and how to make shrubs but for our third event, we wanted to cater for people who might have started questioning their relationship with alcohol during Dry January and who just wanted to learn to make something tasty, relatively simple and with ingredients that are easy to find.
A fun 90's themed night at our CLASSY AF Cocktails & Dreams Masterclass in September 2022
What's the point of holding these events?
The main goal of CLASSY AF is for people to learn from the best mixologists how to make tasty, beautiful drinks AND to debunk the myth that an alcohol-free cocktail is an orange juice with grenadine. But, our aim is also to raise awareness about sober shaming, to hopefully inspire participants to be inclusive and mindful about their drinking and to teach them how to cater for their sober/sober curious friends.
What goes on behind the scenes?
The weeks leading up to an event are pretty busy! Tasks include:
Creating a flyer (this time done by my son Simon - loved it!)
Planning of drinks and food
Marketing/promoting the event
Handling sign-ups, payments, e-mail confirmations and reminders
Making and printing flyers/list of ingredients to be distributed at the event. We've also printed stickers for past events
Planning/tasting session with venue
Some days a full-time job but we love doing it - even if we don't make a dime :-)
Tasting, testing, planning
Who signs up?
Participants are "regular" drinkers, sober curious and a handful of sober people. The age range is between 30 and 70+ and most are women but we LOVE it when men sign up too! At last week's event, two thirds of participants had never been to our events before - and to Ling and I, that was a sign that the word is getting out. People are genuinely interested in learning what a beautiful drink/night/ life without alcohol might be like.
CLASSY AF Dry January: what happened at the event?
When guests arrived at 7 pm, they were welcomed with our first cocktail of the night: a beautiful layered orange-based drink that we called Matahari (sun in Malay). We distributed an alcohol quiz for everyone to take.
Ling and I then welcomed guests, introduced the mixologists and said a few words about our own experience (me as sober and Ling as sober curious).
Mckay and Iman then invited participants behind the bar to learn how to make the second cocktail of the night. It deliberately didn't have a name. We had left post-its on every table for everyone to suggest a name for the drink. The winning name would be permanently featured on Xo's menu!
People had so much fun behind the bar, measuring, mixing, shaking and laughing - and together they produced 30 beautiful cocktails.
Time to go through the quiz. There were some pretty surprising answers in there. Did you know, for example, that it is not enough to throw up to sober up? Alcohol is absorbed very quickly into your bloodstream so unless you throw up immediately after drinking, it won't help.
We had two happy winners of the quiz. One received a voucher to spend at XO, the other a Drunk on Life singlet.
While the third drink was being prepared, Nico, the co-owner of XO announced the winning name for our second cocktail. "Passion gone Sour" suggested by Felicia! Brilliant name (you'll see why when I post our cocktail recipes).
We ended the event with the only sweet-ish cocktail of the night. A beautiful 'Pulau Nanas" (Pineapple Island) in Malay.
We couldn't have been happier with the event and with the enthusiasm shown by everyone. A really supportive crowd - eager to learn and seemingly inspired as they went home.
Here are some of the comments we received afterwards:
"I had a lovely evening! Thank you so much for organising this event".
"The best part: waking up hangover free, ready for a day at work".
"Thank you! It was a fun evening and the cocktails were really delicious".
CLASSY AF Dry January at Xo. What a fun night!
It is no secret that, unfortunately, I'm leaving Malaysia in 6 months. We do want to organise another event before then (hopefully in collaboration with Triptyk - a great bar offering KL's probably largest selection of alcohol-free wines, beers and cocktails). Going forward, we want to take CLASSY AF abroad. So, watch this space, friends.
The team - Ling & Lise
Back to the sober blog
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