Though classic drinks such as the old fashioned may once have reigned in the stately bars of Miami's art-deco hotels, today a high-energy club scene pushes bartenders to pour higher volumes of more sophisticated drinks—and yes, style counts. After slinging drinks in nightlife hot spots including the Clevelander South Beach, Gordon Eagerton launched Elite Bartending School to prepare cocktail craftsmen for today's Miami, eschewing outmoded techniques and rarely ordered drinks to focus on about 120 of South Beach's most-wanted libations.
Eagerton and his fellow instructors run the state-licensed school within Club Play, a 10,000-square-foot South Beach nightclub with three bars, eight wells, and six computer terminals, enabling hands-on practice for all levels of mixologists, from beginners to full-time professionals. The school supports its alumni by posting full-time job leads every week, and the quality of education has earned Elite Bartending School honors in Miami New Times’ Talk of the Town for three years running.
A lot of liquid flows through a lot of beer gardens in the world, but very few of them can say pour enough beer to fill an actual pool. O.k., so the bartenders at Lou’s haven’t actually tried to fill their beer garden’s pool with beer. Still, the dozen taps and 30 bottled varieties on hand run with the stuff, dispensing craft brews in enough varieties to make the prospect of jumping into the swimming hole seem a little more feasible.
Inside the kitchen, Lou himself boasts the titles of both owner and chef, and he spends just as much time crafting his farm-to-table menu as he does curating the beer collection. He pairs his beverages with delicious creations such as New Zealand lamb, seared and served in the same cast iron skillet along with a side of bourbon and mountain honey-roasted squash. Lou’s eccentric palate and staggering panoply of brews has even earned his bacchanalian pleasure dome a nod from Esquire Magazine, which calls it one of 2012's Best Bars in America.
Technicolor liqueurs stream from bottles and shakers as 786-Bartend infuses the brains of students with 80-proof knowledge. Workshops for intro and advanced mixology—developed by founder Isaac Ergas—begin with international history lessons on the origin and evolution of the modern cocktail. Then barkeeps expound on the spirited synergies of high-quality liquors and common drink ingredients and share veteran bar-backing tips, such as how to open drink umbrellas in a windstorm. Prospective bartenders can opt to complete the 40-hour bartending course, which provides in-depth instruction on drink preparation and presentation, job-interview etiquette, and resumé construction. Taught onsite in an actual nightclub, 786-Bartend’s courses let students serve drinks to real customers who, like regular bar patrons, ignore last call and try to open tabs with library cards.
At Little Chef’s kitchen, a talented cadre of kid-friendly instructors inspires and equips young bakers to whip up fresh eats. Parents can sign up their wee ones to experience firsthand the facility's mantra that a new repertoire of basic culinary skills not only fosters healthy eating habits, but bolsters tykes’ confidence, teaches teamwork, and develops motor skills. The classroom beckons young learners with pale yellow walls punctuated by floor-to-ceiling chalkboards and cheerful polka-dot patterns. Instructors happily work with parents to mold classes that suit kids’ eating habits and chewing styles, and even host movie and dinner nights to encourage family bonding.
Jump to: Reviews | Number Munchers A couple, or family of three: Up to six dinners.A family of four to six people: Up to three dinners.An extremely passive-aggressive softball team: Two uncomfortable dinners.The cast of short-lived 1997 anthology crime series Gun: Six episodes.A firefly: More dinners than could be consumed in an entire lifetime, for the life of a firefly is ever so brief.
Chef Apple, who has spent years preparing dishes for various celebrities and diplomats, doles out sage cooking advice in her kitchen classroom, teaching apprentices how to roll seafood during two-hour sushi-making classes on Saturdays and Sundays. After doling out bamboo sushi mats, mounds of rice, compliments on shiny hair, and an assortment of fillings such as avocado, crab, and tuna, Chef Apple guides students through the sushi-making process. Novices slice fish and vegetables, gingerly spread rice across delicate seaweed sheets, and convert the combined ingredients into a convenient tubular form. At the end of the class, students depart with bellies full of food, a full suite of sushi-making equipment, and a bottle of sake to enliven culinary gatherings or tea parties.