Cocktail Academy: A Lesson in Home Bartending

By Laine Himmelmann

Laine Himmelman
Laine Himmelman

“Welcome to your journey through home bartending! Today you will be drinking your work!” – Chris Tucker, Cocktails 101

Earlier this month my girlfriend Tarrah and I had the opportunity to attend Cocktails 101, the first of many Cocktail Academy Seminars hosted by Chris Tucker, the beverage Director for Hook & Ladder and Sacramento’s official cocktail aficionado.   

Admittedly, it didn’t take much to convince me to attend.  Anytime you can give me an “educational reason” to booze it up at 2pm on a Saturday, I’m going to be all in faster than you can say shaken or stirred.  


When we walked into the two-hour class, held in the upper level event space of Hook & Ladder, we weren’t entirely sure what to expect (we just knew there would be alcohol, we would at some point be drinking that alcohol, and there would be some sort of delicious Hook & Ladder goodness to soak it up before we hobbled out of there to continue our Saturday adventures).  cocktails

The class was small, with less than 30 attendees, which created a really cool intimate atmosphere that, coupled with our cocktailing, quickly turned strangers into friends. Chris (or “Tucker” as he is apparently more commonly referred to on the Grid), did an astoundingly good job of keeping a group of strangers thoroughly entertained by seamlessly intertwining the hand-on lessons of classic cocktail training with fun fact booze-centered lectures (such as the REAL story behind how Moscow mules came to be so popular).

Throughout the two hours, we learned how to Roll, Build, Stir, Shake, and Muddle (though admittedly things were starting to get hazier towards the end).  I learned quite a bit about different techniques, classic cocktails, and even how to properly garnish.  Our table shared a lot of laughs and between comparing (and sharing) our old fashions, dry martinis, sidecars, daiquiris (the legit kind – look it up), and stuffing our faces with wild abandon at the amazingness that Hook & Ladder was putting out of their kitchen – I think we even made some new friends.  

All in all, I knew I was in for a good time, but even so Cocktails 101 DEFINITELY exceeded my expectations.  I’m just going to say it, frankly, it was a blast in a glass.  When we left, I noticed every single person that attended came tumbling out the door with a huge smile on their face and some tools in their party belt that they hadn’t had before they arrived.  Our entire table agreed we would do it again in a heartbeat.      

As such, it’s no surprise to me that the Cocktail Academy’s next two classes (“Cocktails 102” and “Gin & Vodka”) are already sold out (Probably attendees from our class graduating to the next course!).


Who is Cocktail Academy for?

Whether you’re looking to set up your own home bar or you want to impress a date or maybe you just want to be able to make a decent martini for yourself, Cocktail Academy if for anyone and everyone (over the age of 21 of course)!  I went with my girlfriend, but I saw many dates, mother/daughter combos, bro-dates – it’s great for anyone looking to do a little something different and interactive, learn something useful (and impressive), and have a great time.  

What does it cost?

Each Cocktail Academy class is $45 per person – which is a pretty sweet deal considering you get to feast on a smorgasbord of Hook & Ladder offerings and drink 4-5 cocktails during two hours of highly entertaining activity.  

Where is it?

The Cocktail Academy is hosted at Hook & Ladder on 1630 S Street.  My suggestion, get dropped off or be prepared to leave your car and continue onto new adventures following the class – you and whoever you attend with will be feeling far too friendly to drive.  

How can I sign up?  

The next two classes in March and April are unfortunately sold out, but Chris Tucker will be hosting a Cocktail Academy seminar each month throughout the year, with each seminar being different than the last.  

Visit for ticket information or subscribe to Hook and Ladder’s events on Facebook to get notified when tickets go on sale for their next Course.  

If you can’t wait until May, Chris also offers these types of seminars for private events and groups. To schedule, contact Chris Tucker at   


A heartfelt thank you to Chris Tucker and Emily Griggs for including me and providing my girlfriend and I with some great laughs and impressive cocktail crafting skills for upcoming date nights and ladies nights in.  It was such a fun experience and unlike any I’d ever had before!  Another thank you must go out to the rest of our Cocktail 101 classmates for being a great time and to our table specifically for continuing to put up with Tarrah and I after drink number three….  

You can follow Hook and Ladder on:


Twitter: @ Hook_n_Ladder

Instagram: @hook_and_ladder


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