When a person hears the word “lab,” the thought of doctors or scientists in lab coats running experiments and presumably changing the world often comes to mind. When I first heard of New Orleans Drink Lab, I expected no lab coats were involved, but thought they had to be changing the drink world. Drink Lab opened in the fall of 2015 as a way for owner and bartender extraordinaire Daniel Victory to teach the people of the Crescent City the art of the cocktail.
One steamy Wednesday afternoon in June, a group of co-workers and I stepped off of the elevator into the new location in the Central Business District above Victory Bar, a bar and eatery founded by Victory. The space has an eclectic vibe, featuring dark wood and lounge-like seating areas.
“I loved the venue – some of the bar décor was straight from a bar that was actually in Storyville,” says custom publications editor Jessica DeBold. “The venue’s atmosphere in combination with the history lessons we had on each of the cocktails made the experience feel that much more genuine.”
Once our whole party arrived and each of us had a glass of champagne in hand, Victory, along with his business partner Camille Whitworth, began the two-hour class with an introduction on themselves and the story of how Drink Lab came to fruition. From there, we each took our place at individual workstations behind the bar and we were off.
“The way Daniel infused history in with the recipes and technical information made it more interesting and fun,” says Melanie Warner Spencer, editor of Louisiana Life magazine and several of the company’s other titles.
The first cocktail we learned to make was the Sazerac. Not only is this a New Orleans classic, but also our editor in chief’s favorite drink and the official state cocktail of Louisiana – so naturally it was important we got it right. In addition, by the end of the class, we had created a Ramos Gin Fizz and an authentic Hurricane.
We are by no means experts now, but we all learned something new and had a blast. Spencer adds, “It would be a fun date activity or something to do with a friend, but being there with a group of friends made it even more entertaining.”
Drink Lab offers four interactive drink classes Wednesdays-Saturdays. The options include Classic New Orleans Cocktails (what we experienced), The Makings of Mixology, Wine Enthusiast Tasting and Bourbon & Whisky Tasting. For more information, visit DrinkLabNola.com.