New cocktail classes at DEATH & TAXES in Reno

Can you really learn something about home bartending from cocktail classes?

Jessica Torres is the Chief Cocktail Creator at and is contributing original spirits stories to Drinkable Reno.

DEATH & TAXES, an upscale bar in midtown Reno, recently hosted their first cocktail class on Bartending Basics for Home Entertaining. This class was the first of its kind for the Northern Nevada area, although it’s not a new concept. The popular San Francisco bar, Bourbon and Branch, provides a variety of cocktail classes ranging from cocktail 101 to individual spirits.

6_2 cocktail class Ivan Fontana

After attending a handful of the classes at Bourbon and Branch, DEATH & TAXES owner and master bartender Ivan Fontana, decided to create similar classes for his Reno bar.  In the first cocktail class offered at DEATH & TAXES, Fontana structured it with the home bartender in mind. The idea behind the class is to teach people how to properly make cocktails when entertaining at home.

During the two-hour class, Fontana walked a group of 10 people through how to make four classic cocktails that they were able to drink along the way. After trying the first cocktail, a classic mojito, many people exclaimed it was one of the best mojitos they ever drank. Fontana provided tips on when to stir (if a drink has spirits only) and when to shake (if the drink contains citrus), quality cocktail ingredients, the importance of ice and such. He also shared a few “geek tips” including how to make clear ice cubes (which I didn’t know) for those who wanted to get a little more advanced with their skills.

6_2 cocktail class pouring

Now, could a person learn these skills without taking a class? Yes, of course. I did. However, it took me a long time to learn them on my own. I’ve purchased and read several cocktail books and articles on the web. I’ve completed the BarSmarts Wired program. I’ve practiced in my kitchen for several years now. And I still learned something new about making infused syrups with herbs while I was listening to Fontana speak during the class.

6_2 cocktail class death and taxes

In my opinion, there is no comparing what you read in a book to what you learn hands on with an experienced bartender. It’s one thing to read proper stirring techniques in a book, but it’s a completely different thing to have someone show you how to do it. And let me just say, learning how to stir a cocktail the right way is no easy feat.

6_2 cocktail class stirring

But beyond what you learn during the class, there is also the social experience that goes along with it. My bartending learning at home has been a solo act for the most part. With the cocktail class, whether you sign up with a friend or you take the class by yourself, there are other people there that you can talk, laugh and drink with. Drinking is social. Learning how to make drinks should be too.

So, would I recommend spending $100 on a cocktail class at DEATH & TAXES? Absolutely.

Interested in attending a cocktail class at DEATH & TAXES?

When: The next two cocktail classes are scheduled for June 22 and July 13 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Contact: Email them at to reserve your spot.
Online: You can also find DEATH & TAXES on Facebook and subscribe to their newsletter to learn more about upcoming events.

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Jessica Torres

Chief Cocktail Creator at One Martini
Jessica Torres is the chief cocktail creator at One Martini. When not playing bartender in her kitchen and on the Internet, Jessica can be found improving her food and drink photography, spending time with her family or attempting to nap. Jessica also writes at allParenting.

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