Restaurants: Know your onions

When it comes to self-improvement, class-conscious folk are signing up for gourmet lessons in cocktails and cigars, discovers Nikki Spencer
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
If your New Year's resolution was to broaden your horizons, maybe to take a course or two, you might find that rather than signing up at a local college you're visiting a restaurant.

Tutored wine tastings with experts from the industry have been around for a while, but now a number of establishments are planning to extend our education to everything from cocktails and cooking with chocolate to the trend of the moment, cigars.

Early next month, the Southwest American restaurants Canyon, in Richmond, and Montana (right), in Fulham, will be hosting a Cigar and Bourbon Extravaganza, where guests will receive a tutored bourbon tasting as well as a talk on the art of enjoying a fine cigar, followed by the chance to puff away on a Montecristo No 3.

"It'll certainly be more fun than your average evening class," enthuses a restaurant spokeswoman. "It's not like being in a classroom with someone talking at you. The tutoring will be very relaxed, and there is, of course, the bonus of a three-course meal to help it all along," she adds.

Hotels are getting in on the act, too. On 18 Feb, the Lanesborough is holding a cocktail masterclass with Campari Bartender of the Year Salvatore Calabrese. Claridges is planning a similar event in March, as well as a chocolate masterclass for the sweet-toothed among us.

At the Savoy next weekend, members of the public will get the chance to watch a two-hour demonstration by Anton Edelman, before taking a tour of the kitchens. Like many similar events, the masterclass is rounded off with a three-course luncheon in the hotel's River Restaurant - a bit different from your average college class, when refreshments consist of watery coffee from a vending machine or a half a lager at the pub on the corner. But then you will need more than loose change. The Savoy masterclass is pounds 80, whereas dinner after the masterclass at The Lanesborough is pounds 50 extra.