The Art of the Cocktail: The Courtesy

Enjoying our cocktails after class at the Courtesy

Last Friday, the Get Local crew was able to join the Courtesy's mixologists in downtown Orlando for an afternoon of hands-on cocktail education. For two hours, we mixed and sipped away the day, learning to make high quality specialty cocktails.

Related: take this cocktail class

If you haven’t had the chance to visit the Courtesy in downtown Orlando, it is an experience in and of itself. As soon as you walk in, you are put at ease with a low lit, classic ambiance. The wood-panel and exposed brick walls are lined with plush cushion seating, perfect for soaking up the speakeasy feel with a cocktail in hand.

The Courtesy is best known for their high quality, hand crafted cocktails, but they also feature a variety of craft beers and wines. It is, in my opinion, the single best place in town to grab a cocktail. My personal favorite is the Sazerac.

The Cocktail Class

Friday was Mike’s birthday, so we decided to cut out of work early to enjoy the afternoon cocktail class with friends. Drink mixing stations were set up along the bar, equipped with bitters, garnishes, glasses, measurers, stirrers and everything else we needed to make our cocktails. This particular class focused on how to make drinks featuring bitters.

Mike's Planter's Punch

We started the class around 3:30 P.M. with our cocktail professor, Elyse, who graciously and patiently taught our class with ease. The Courtesy also provided notebooks for us to take notes throughout the class.

The Classic Champagne Cocktail

Our first drink was a classic champagne cocktail (typically a pre-dinner drink), made with bitters, a sugar cube and brut champagne. Elyse explained what kind of bitters to use and why, and the technique for adding the different ingredients. She also explained that you can use different variations of these ingredients to make a completely different cocktail.

The Planters Punch

Our second drink was a Planters Punch, a personal favorite to enjoy while watching football at home with friends. This drink is made up of Peychauds bitters, angostura bitters, simple syrup, lime juice, lemon juice, rum and mint. Again, Elyse explained all our ingredients and why we used them, the proper technique to create the drink (including how to use a shaker in a way that would delight James Bond) and the timing for each step.

The Classic Old Fashioned

Our third and final drink was one of my all-time favorites, the Old Fashioned. Like the Planters Punch, the Old Fashioned has been around for quite a while and the ingredient list is a topic of debate for cocktail enthusiasts around the world. For the sake of our class, Elyse showed us how the Courtesy Bar makes an Old Fashioned and I have to say, it was damn good. 

We started with simple syrup, following up with two types of bitters and finally, high quality bourbon. We then added ice and gently stirred the ingredients together. To top it all off, we spritzed the drink with an orange peel, wiped the rim with the citrus oils, and then twisted the peel up to make a nice garnish. It was just the way to start to the weekend.

Props to the Courtesy

The Courtesy in Downtown Orlando

Before taking this class, most of us in the group were truly unaware of how much thought and technique goes into making a great cocktail. The Courtesy opened our eyes, and the thought and effort they put into the drinks they serve shows every time you order one up. 

This is the quintessential cocktail lounge in Orlando made for the locals by the locals, but inviting to all. The Courtesy puts it eloquently: “The pleasure is ours, The Courtesy is yours.”