Cocktail Uncultured Creators Uri Sacharow, Eric Vincent, and Kyshali Ramirez strive to take the mystery out of the cocktail experience. A wonderful idea presented by Sacharow and fulfilled by the trio, the key characteristics of Cocktail Uncultured classes are entertainment, education, and empowerment. For just $25.00 a person, cocktail novices and esteemed professionals alike can enjoy one or more of the five courses which increase in difficulty and excitement from one class to the next. Sacharow, Vincent, and Ramirez make creating drinks more accessible, enjoyable, and collaborative. Those who take their classes are sure to have fun and eliminate anxiety about ordering drinks. Students can expect to have a newfound confidence in themselves as well as a deeper appreciation for the craft. Sacharow, Vincent, and Ramirez also use their platform to positively impact their community and support those most affected by the pandemic. Cocktail Uncultured donates their proceeds to individuals, industries, and charities in need.
How did Cocktail Uncultured get started?
KR: It was a fruit of our times. Uri started Cocktail Uncultured when everyone was out of work and we were all starting to do more virtual stuff. We realized that people enjoyed drinking at home. Cocktail Uncultured was born to help out of work bartenders. The tips and everything that we made was donated to bartenders in the community. Once everything started opening up, and people started getting jobs, we realized that it would be a good business opportunity for all of us to come together and push forward with Cocktail Uncultured.
US: At the onset of the pandemic, we had a lot of friends and family who were in the hospitality industry and who suddenly found themselves furloughed or completely out of a job. I am lucky enough to have a day job on top of my cocktail hobby. I was in a place where I could help my friends and family in some regard. I started teaching online cocktail making courses for businesses, business people, and professionals. 100% of the proceeds went to friends, family and industry professionals who were suddenly in need. Cocktail Uncultured grew from there. I am so glad to be able to bring on two good friends, Kyshali and Eric, who have twenty plus years of knowledge and background.
EV: I was happy to sign up with Uri because we realized that it is difficult for anyone to come off the street and get a personalized experience in bartending and industry knowledge. We all enjoy learning and teaching, especially behind the bar, and this seemed like a natural segway to keep the interactions alive. The whole point of our company is to take the mystery out of what is in our glass. It allows the guest to be better informed so they can make better decisions and understand why they like/don’t like things.
How do you find people to support? Discuss who receives Cocktail Uncultured’s proceeds.
US: As for who gets the money and where the money goes, it was very easy when we first started. We had local bars and friends. It was simple but as it went on we realized that we had to have more organization. The United States Bartenders Guild works with a lot of different charities that we have been speaking with them about how to get involved. As we move forward, it may not be just about the industry but other volunteer groups. We want to continue offering something to the community because something is better than nothing.
EV: We are also looking at where we can expand. We are planning on donating to Everglades Angels which is a dog rescue that saves abandoned dogs in the everglades. They are 100% volunteer-based. The dogs are either at foster homes or rented kennels at two different veterinary offices so the medical and care costs are all covered by donations. The most important thing is giving back to the community.
How has being a bartender influenced your new role as the creators of Cocktail Uncultured?
KR: I create cocktail menus for the bar program that I run. I am still bartending and managing a bar so I can see the world of bars from an operations perspective. I see what it costs to make a cocktail and what it takes to create an experience. It is good to have a bartending experience to translate it to the screen. I can tell people, ‘Hey, if you’re doing this at home, this is how we think it will work for you in a way that is not expensive.’ It is good to have someone like me to give them those guidelines on what kind of modifiers to purchase if you want to make classic cocktails.
What does “Cocktail Uncultured” represent?
KR: Cocktail Uncultured is taking the mystery out of what is in your glass. It’s empowering people to make their own cocktails at home and to not feel intimidated when they go out to a bar. They will be able to read a cocktail menu, order a drink, and know what to expect. They will be able to communicate with the bartender. They will be able to enhance their experience and recreate it at home.
US: Cocktail Uncultured helps guests not only evolve their palette, but also to understand why something tastes good. It is about understanding what goes into making a good cocktail and what goes into making a cheaply made cocktail and knowing the difference. A lot of people are not confident in ordering something off the menu. We’ve all been in situations where we read the menu at a cocktail bar and couldn’t pronounce a lot of the ingredients, let alone know what they were. Part of taking out the mystery is understanding what these esoteric ingredients add to cocktails and what the difference is between the 4,000 different types of rums. You should be able to make the best drink you can and feel like you can without any shame. It doesn’t have to be an ironic process to enjoy something.
EV: Cocktail Uncultured breaks down drinks for people who will never work in a bar. It’s for people who will never be involved with alcohol except for enjoyment in their own homes and restaurants. So how do we present making drinks to them? How do we make this experience accessible to them? We deconstruct the stigma.
How do your mixology classes stand out from others? Tell us some characteristics of your class: curriculum, audience, purpose.
KR: We have a very structured setup and agreed upon recipes. Our classes also go up in levels: level 1, level 2, level 3, level 4, and then level 5. There’s a curriculum but it is still very fun. You start at the beginning where we expect you to know absolutely nothing. Level one is like here is a bottle, here is a lemon, here is some sugar. Very basic. Before people take a class, they get a menu so they know what they will be making. They get a shopping list and they can go and purchase what they are going to need for the class so there are no surprises. There are instructions on how to make the syrups that they are going to need beforehand. They will be able to set themselves up for success and then we go over the technique once we have the live class. We go over how to make the drink and how to serve it.
US: We start with the fundamentals. We talk about the cocktails that are, more or less, the basis for all other cocktails that you will find. It’s called Building the Five Bottle Bar (Tequila, Rum, Gin, Bourbon, and Vodka). We build a cocktail with each liquor and from there we build on that information. We start including things like garnishes and discuss what they add to cocktails. We talk about what syrups do to cocktails and different types of sweeteners, juices, bitters, and aromatics. We take you step by step. The big thing is that we want people to feel safe and like there are no judgments. In every class, we say that as long as the drink you want is in your glass, you have done it right. There is no right or wrong answer.
EV: We each have our own focus and our own style. I had it ingrained in me to dial in bartending techniques and I also want to constantly learn the classics. This way I am able to understand what drinks work or don’t work and, more importantly, why that is the case. Kyshali will go into great detail about wine and whiskey. She loves bourbon and rye. We each have our own different backgrounds and templates. We love experimenting too. Uri has been doing that recently. He and Kyshali love making clarified ice. That will also be one of the classes. Clear ice photographs beautifully.
What else can be expected from these classes?
US: In the classes, we go over the reason behind not only what a perfectly balanced cocktail does for the experience, but also the history behind why these cocktails have been phenomenons worldwide. You don’t see them everywhere because they’re easy to make and they’re tasty. There is a reason behind where they came from, what they had to do, and the experiences people have had with them throughout time. We are liquor based edutainment.
EV: I would say that we keep the classes organic. It was Uri’s idea to not overwhelm people. I’m very technique-driven so I can get too laser-focused. We make sure that when we teach people that nothing is confusing for them. We show them exactly how to make the drink and that is all they have to worry about. From there, the classes get more involved. The first five classes are to get people interested and not scare them away.
What has been the most memorable experience so far?
KR: The community has honestly been the most memorable experience. When it all started it was just friends helping friends. Now we have our little cocktail community. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with other people. I love sharing my ideas with my community through the Cocktail Uncultured Newsletter too. When people subscribe to our newsletter, they get to hear from us directly. They get recipes that we want to share and little hacks on how to do stuff at the home bar. It’s fun because it builds camaraderie in the community.
To contact Cocktail Uncultured or follow their journey:
Follow @cocktailuncultured on Instagram.
To sign up for a class with Cocktail Uncultured and to receive their newsletter, go to cocktailuncultured.com.