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Mix Drinks Like a Pro at This Boozy Bartending Class in San Francisco

Written by Christina CampodonicoPublished Aug. 20, 2023 • 7:00am
A Navy grog is poured at the Alembic’s Monday Night Mixology class. | Source: Christina Campodonico/The Standard

It’s a Date helps you navigate your love life in the Bay through thoughtfully planned and curated itineraries, field tested by our staff. Next up, a master-level mixology class at one of the Haight’s coolest bars.

Monday is traditionally a dead night for restaurants and bars. 

But the savvy have long known it can also be one of the best evenings to venture out, for those who don’t relish spending an hour looking for parking or half their paycheck on dinner.  

It’s certainly no accident that the Alembic on Haight Street has scheduled its Monday Night Mixology class on the first night of the workweek. Want to learn how to mix a martini like a bartender in a movie? Or learn why you shouldn’t wait until New Year’s Eve to drink champagne? Monday Night Mixology can impress your date and get you both pleasantly tipsy.

Cost: $95

Great for: Third dates, group dates, cocktail enthusiasts and couples looking to shake things up

Vibe: Boozy, educational

Time: 2-3 hours

Create a Stir Together

During the two-hour course taught by seasoned pros, you’ll learn how to make four cocktails. You can sip your creations as you learn. But don’t worry about being obligated to finish all your cocktails in one sitting (and being unable to walk out of the bar). Thanks to still active pandemic-era liquor laws, you can take your creations to-go.

Every class focuses on a certain liquor or seasonal inspiration. Rum-based cocktails took center stage at the recent Monday night session attended by The Standard. Previous classes have covered themes including how to mix sparkling cocktails for festive occasions and turning produce into shrubs and tinctures as the basis for a perfect tipple.

The Alembic's general manager and co-owner, Kathryn Kulczyk, mixes drinks at the Haight Street bar for Monday Night Mixology. | Source: Christina Campodonico/The Standard

Upcoming sessions include American Whiskey (Aug. 28) and Intro to Fall Mixology (Sept. 11). Visit for more details.  

The Alembic’s general manager and co-owner, Kathryn Kulczyk, started Monday Night Mixology more than a decade ago with cocktail master Michael Cecconi at the beloved Hayes Valley watering hole Two Sisters Bar and Books. After that establishment closed in 2017, the pair brought the concept to the Alembic. Kulczyk peppers the lesson with tried-and-true tips from bartenders and spirits connoisseurs.

Kulczyk starts by offering samplings of four different types of rum with flavor profiles that vary from honey-like to acidic. She encourages her students to stop and smell them.

People mix drinks at the Alembic bar at 1725 Haight St. in San Francisco on Monday. | Source: Christina Campodonico/The Standard

“Whenever you’re tasting a spirit, smell it and then breathe in and out,” she coaches. “Don’t shoot it.”

She also provides a primer on cocktail equipment—from shakers to bar spoons to strainers.

No need to purchase a $100 shaker, Kulczyk advises. You can easily MacGyver a reliable Boston shaker with an inexpensive metal shaker and  a pint glass to create a nice, strong seal.

“This is a great way to start your shaking journey,” she says, encouraging students to shake hard while holding the equipment either above or below their heads to prevent spillage. Always place an “insurance finger” over the spout of a liquor bottle as you pour, and turn the butt of the spoon toward the glass while stirring.

Bartender Kathryn Kulczyk mixes a drink at the Alembic bar at 1725 Haight St. in San Francisco on Monday. | Source: Christina Campodonico/The Standard

A plastic jigger will suffice to do your measuring, and no need to spend more than $25 on the whole cocktail equipment kit, she notes. Other tips: Use a julep strainer—which looks like a mini-colander—for drinks with herbs to avoid messy cleanups or as an ice scoop. A Hawthorne strainer, the more recognizable steel paddle affixed with a semicircular coiled spring, is great for shaking cocktails with ice. 

Between mixing drinks, mixology students are encouraged to munch on chips and crudités and mingle with their fellow pupils. Long-term partners may enjoy mixing things up by meeting other couples in the class. On the evening The Standard attended, we befriended a pair of couples on a double date with a single friend in tow. 

Or, you can stay focused on your drinking buddy.

The Alembic's general manager and co-owner, Kathryn Kulczyk, mixes drinks at the Haight Street bar in San Francisco on Monday for its Monday Night Mixology class. | Source: Christina Campodonico/The Standard

The class is an excellent opportunity to test your teamwork as you juggle bottles and try to follow instructions while getting steadily tipsier. Take turns putting ice into each other’s glasses or pouring ingredients for your companion. 

If all goes well, you’ll be pleasantly liquored up by the night’s end. Or if you’re feeling more hungry than frisky, Escape From New York Pizza is just two doors down and offers $6ish slices to line your stomach and sober you up. (We recommend eating after, if not before, the class.) 

But perhaps skip the shop’s signature garlic and potato pizza if you plan on sealing the evening with a kiss.

Christina Campodonico can be reached at

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