Cocktail masterclass at The Classroom, North Perth

After the all-day intensity of Eat Drink Blog on the Saturday, Sunday morning was a little more relaxed as conference delegates attended one of three bespoke experiences: a visit to a mushroom farm complete with Masterchef-style cooking challenge; a French pastry masterclass with chef Emmanuel Mallois; and cocktail and cuisine matching masterclass at The Classroom.

I’ve been to a mushroom farm before, and I would much prefer to eat pastry than make it, so I chose the cocktail masterclass. I’ve attended an event that was catered by The Classroom and been intrigued by tweets about their limited edition Bunny Alexander cocktails (brandy Alexanders served in chocolate bunnies at Easter), but I hadn’t actually been there before – this was a good excuse to finally check it out.

Themed bars and restaurants can be tacky and rely heavily on cringeworthy gimmicks, but The Classroom stands out for its innovative approach to food and drink as well as its retro styling. The masterclass demonstrated this very well.

Bloggers waiting for the class to start Bloggers waiting for the class to start. I’m the loner kid in the playground.

In the bookshelves are encyclopaedias, school textbooks, TV-themed lunchboxes with matching thermoses (I always wanted one as a kid but never had one) and and sports trophies. Playing on the TV screen at the back were 80s classic music videos. When I took this photo, it was Lionel Ritchie’s Hello.

The bookshelf behind Andy is a secret door Lots of scenes like this! The bookshelf behind Bar Manager Andy Bennett is a secret door that swings open to reveal The Library, the venue for the masterclass.

Inside the secret roomOohs and aahs as we enter the secret room, lit by the glow of our mobile phones.


As Andy tells us, food and wine matching’s a familiar concept these days, but cocktails bring something else to mix: a sense of theatre and the unexpected. According to Andy’s Cocktails 101 list (presented on a blackboard, of course), the 5 elements of a cocktail which we interact with and form our experience are: colour, aroma, taste, texture and that unique certain something, the je ne sais quoi (literally “I don’t know what” in French).

Espresso martinis are very in right now, and Andy demonstrates The Classroom’s signature version, made with liquid nitrogen. The cocktail’s composed of three distinct parts:

First, The Classroom’s own blend of espresso, pulled to order to ensure the quality of crema and aroma. Added to the espresso is a special mix of vanilla vodka, Pedro Ximenez sherry, Italian coffee liqueur and dark chocolate liqueur.

Second, the liquid nitrogen. It doesn’t just look cool – it’s minus 196 degrees Celsius of freezing power. The recipe could end there and we’d all be impressed, mesmerised by the frosty mist slowly wrapping around the cocktail glass.

But third, finishing touches that make it even more desirable: a swirl of marscapone sherry foam and a dusting of chocolate – to remind the drinker of the classic Italian dessert, tiramisu.

Magician, mad scientist, bartender: Andy Bennett with the espresso martini Magician, mad scientist, bartender: Andy Bennett with the espresso martini – kids, don’t try this at home.

Espresso martini Espresso martini

Matched with the espresso martini is an original dessert called ‘Asteroid Rocher’, created by The Classroom’s chef and co-owner Daniel Sterpini, inspired by another two Italian classics: affogato and Ferrero Rocher. The ‘asteroid’ is a nougat ice cream sphere with a coffee ganache core, served with roasted banana mousse, homemade malted honeycomb, pop rocks, juicy blueberries, crystalised violets, pistachio candy dirt and wisps of Persian fairy floss.

Chef Daniel Sterpini explains the elements of the matching dessert Chef Daniel Sterpini explains the elements of the matching dessert. In addition to his role at The Classroom, Daniel is one of the directors of Cocktail Gastronomy, a catering company specialising in pairing food with cocktails.

There’s so much to discover on the plate – it’s a melt-in-the-mouth blizzard with sweet and smoky roasted banana mousse and fruit of the forest, lots to crackle, crunch and pop – matched with the boozy, fragrant, slightly bitter martini… it’s sensual and sensational. And ohhhhh, that roasted banana mousse!

Espresso martini with matching dessert, Asteroid Rocher Espresso martini with matching dessert, Asteroid Rocher. There may have been an extra serving up for grabs. I may have put my hand up for it.


Espresso martinis ready to go Espresso martinis ready to go.

For me, the masterclass was cerebral and sensory with a twist of nostalgia – it intrigued, tantalised and made me think of my university days back in the early to mid-1990s when I sometimes worked bar shifts. No espresso martinis back then; I made many Japanese Slippers, Black Russians and shooters galore – Slippery Nipples, B52s and Squashed Frogs. And on Tuesday nights when Melrose Place was on TV, my friends and I would gather at the pub to watch the show on a big screen, eager to see what evil Amanda and conniving Dr Michael would do next, while we shared Shakers of Illusions – nowhere as sophisticated as the work of today’s mixologists, but a lot of fun. What about you? Got your own moments of cocktail nostalgia to share?

Recently at Australian Hotels Association Western Australia’s 2013 Hotel and Hospitality Awards for Excellence, The Classroom was a worthy winner for ‘Best Cocktail Bar’ and Andy won ‘WA’s Best Excellence in Service Employee’.

The cocktail and cuisine matching masterclass was held by The Classroom for delegates of the Eat Drink Blog 2013 conference.

See my post on Eat Drink Blog 2013.

The Classroom
1/356 Charles St, North Perth WA 6006
Telehone:(08) 9444 7729
Opening hours
Tuesday to Friday 4pm to late
Saturday and Sunday 12pm to late
Monday – private classes

I’m on holiday

If you follow me on social media, you probably know I’ve just spent three nights in Melbourne and am currently on King Island, Tasmania. As I type this, it’s raining heavily on a blustery night on the island. I’m here for a photographic safari – so fingers crossed the weather will be less challenging tomorrow! If you don’t already follow me on social media, you can get the latest updates from my travel adventures via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Blog posts about this trip will be written upon my return home and published sometime early 2014.

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