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What we’re watching: MasterClass Lynnette Marrero and Ryan Chetiyawardana Teach Mixology
Who’s teaching it: Lynnette Marrero is a legendary New York-based bar director (currently at the Llama Inn) as well as the co-creator of Speed Rack, a bartending competition that promotes female talent in the cocktail industry while raising funds for breast cancer research and prevention.
Her partner is the London-based Ryan Chetiyawardana (aka “Mr Lyan”), one of the world’s most renowned bartenders; his late, great London bar Dandelyan won the World’s Best Bar designation in 2018.
And this is all hosted on MasterClass, a multi-disciplinary video-based classroom that offers 80+ courses taught by world-renowned instructors (usually celebrities and always people at the top of their craft). This is the company’s first foray into booze.
What it’s teaching us: Over 17 video lessons (usually around 15 minutes each), the mixology duo discuss stocking a home bar, pairing booze with food and creating large-batch cocktails for get-togethers, which we hope will happen again some day. They also dive into classic cocktails like the mojito, martini, sours and the Old Fashioned, often with unique twists that are suited for your (not always well-stocked) home bar.
What we liked:
- Marrero and Chetiyawardana have a solid chemistry, while also offering up very different palates and styles of preparation. She’s great for pairing drinks with food; he’s got some really cool hacks for the home bar novice (and his Beeswax Old Fashioned looks amazing)
- Chetiyawardana in particular aims his lessons at people who don’t have a fully-stocked home bar. For him, it’s about ingredients with a multi-functional use, making your own twist on the cocktails and utilizing items you already own to make the drinks (example: use tea strainers and coffee filters in lieu of expensive bar equipment). His vodka martini hack is also the easiest drink recipe ever created — no spoilers, but you can essentially make it within a vodka bottle, no shaking or stirring required.
- For better or worse, you’re going to see the two drinks-slingers go step-by-step with each cocktail, meaning it could take 30 seconds to watch them fill up ice in a shaker. Slightly maddening, but it also makes it easy to follow along.
What could use some work:
- The included, downloadable workbook is lacking in useful photos, particularly when it comes to bar tools and processes (“how to cut the perfect citrus peel” … would have been great if it showed and didn’t tell how to do so).
- The lessons are engaging, but they seem to go in random order — it never quite feels like you’re building on knowledge from one lesson to the next. And a few of them offered little substance; I’m really not sure why we needed “Exploring the Palate” (which was essentially about making a sweet vs. tart lemonade).
Overall: At its core, this MasterClass is just about watching two talented and engaging bar experts and personalities engage in their craft. That’s worth the price alone.
Expertise-wise, I’d place these lessons somewhere above beginner (if you need to know what a cocktail shaker is, go elsewhere) but below, say, grad school. You, or dad, won’t come out of this slinging drinks like the teaching duo here, but you will be able to follow along and craft nearly two dozen good-looking, interesting and tasty / tasteful drinks.
Where you can take the class: It’s currently $180 for a year of MasterClass, which includes all 80+ courses available (not just the mixology one). So even if dad decides he’s not up for a drink, he could always have Gordon Ramsey teach him cooking, or Carlos Santana discuss the guitar.
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