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Review: Modern Mixology Seminar at the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic

Nestled within the incredible Epcot Food and Wine Festival season is another highly anticipated food and wine extravaganza — the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic!

This two-day event gives you the option to enjoy the all-you-care-to-eat Causeway (review coming soon!), where you can stroll and taste samples from all of your favorite Swan and Dolphin restaurants (and meet some celebrity chefs, too). In addition, seminars are held each day covering a wide range of adult beverages. Interested? DFB has special rate codes for you for this year’s Classic! Check out the details at the end of this post!

Last year, I chose to attend the Modern Mixology Seminar and wanted to share the experience with you today!

Modern Mixology Seminar Atmosphere

This event was led by Lindsay Skillman, mixologist extraordinaire and the General Manager of Cabana Bar and Beach Club at the Swan and Dolphin Resort. (FYI — Lindsay will also be leading several mixology seminars at the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, so be sure to sign up if you can!)

The pamphlet for the seminar gives you a peak into the mad science that we were about to undertake…

Seminar Pamphlet -- click image for larger version

Seminar Pamphlet -- click image for larger version

We began the experience in line at the registration table. Wristbands were distributed for those who’d purchased tickets for the Causeway eats so that we could just head right outside for the food after the event!

Line to Get In

Once inside the conference room, we took our places at the individual workstations. I loved that everyone had their own space to “create” and experiment. We even had our own gadgets to play with!

Room Set Up

Before sitting, I took the opportunity to snap a few shots of the front of the room. The seminar leader’s table looked like a bigger version of our set-up — with a few more bells and whistles (and large chemical tanks).

Seminar Leader's Station

In the corner, there was a snazzy bar, which appeared to be equipped for making extra drinks. (Yay!)

Bar Area Set Up

Back at my table, I found everything I needed to try my hand at some modern mixology techniques.

Place Setting

Modern Mixology Seminar “Experiments”

Promptly the seminar began, and the large screen to the right began displaying the Powerpoint presentation.

Power Point Presentation Opening Slide

Lindsay took the lead and explained the different fun things we would be trying today, like making foams and sphereification. She is an excellent seminar leader — informative, entertaining, and poised…and quite a fast talker, so be prepared for a lot of info very quickly!

Teaching the Seminar

Power Point

Power Point

While I don’t love the concept of “foams” on my food, it’s not as bad when it comes to drinks. And the sphereification sounded fun and intriguing. Could I make my very own “caviar bubbles”? Now that would be cool.

Power Point

And, sure enough, our first hands-on experiment was creating our very own “caviar!” These are basically flavored shapes used to give added texture to drinks.

Sphereification in Progress

Let me tell you, this is harder than it looks!! My “spheres” unfortunately resemble slugs more than anything. And I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the effect we were shooting for. ;-) Yeah.. not exactly appetizing, right?

Slug-ification

My friend, to her credit, made this darling Mickey shape. How clever!!

Mickey Sphereification

Next up, we learned a bit about infusions — including this Strawberry-infused concoction!

Strawberry Infused Deliciousness

For our second drink, we got to sample this Strawberry Infused Margarita, which was incredible! The recipe is in the pamphlet above — be sure to give it a try.

Strawberry Margarita

Next, it was time to play with the blow-torch! This was to garnish up the third cocktail — a Ketel One cocktail.

Garnish ideas

We started with fresh orange slices.

Fresh oranges

We rolled them in turbinado sugar (think Sugar in the Raw.)

Sugar Covering

We then took a little butane torch – the kind that pastry chefs use to burn creme brulee – and torched the sugar on the orange slices until it was caramelized. This smelled so good. What a great way to garnish a drink! (Just an FYI — they didn’t let us torch our own oranges for liability reasons…probably smart after already finishing off two cocktails.)

Bruleeing Oranges

Bruleed Oranges

We mixed our own individual Ketel One portions into orange juice and added the garnish. Perfect!

Final Drink

Eats

Everyone knows that when you have killer cocktails, you also need a little something to nosh on.

Lindsay whipped up a batch of the Swan and Dolphin’s famous Nitro Popcorn! This stuff is weird and interesting and delicious, you guys. And it was beyond cool to watch how it’s made.

Making Nitro Popcorn

To make this dessert, fresh popcorn is combined with honey roasted peanuts, caramel shards (ground in a coffee grinder), and sea salt. But here’s the fun part: whipped cream and other ingredients are combined to make a caramel mousse.

This mousse is flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen, then broken into tiny pieces and mixed with the popcorn, peanuts, and caramel shards!

Adding Mousse to the Popcorn

The Whoosh of the Nitro Cloud is awesome

Looks like Frankenstein's Lab

Re-freezing

And here is the delicious finished product – sweet, salty, frozen goodness!

Nitro Popcorn

Overall

I had a blast at this Modern Mixology seminar! Lindsay is a great presenter, and it was so interesting to learn how to put together these extra special drink garnishes. Tasting the cocktails was the icing on the cake…but you all know how I feel about icing!

So, with the knowledge and the drinks, as well as the entertainment value, these seminars offer pretty good value in my opinion. Spending an hour learning how to enhance your bar skills seems like a great idea to me!

If you are interested in booking a seminar, be sure to register in advance. These events normally sell out.

Booking Details

There are several ways to attend the seminars: book a seminar alone, book a seminar and a Causeway ticket, or book a discounted hotel package to get it all rolled into one. Here are the codes I promised that will save you, my dear DFB readers, time and money for this special weekend!

To book a special getaway, call 888-828-8850 for reservations and ask for one of the following rate codes for these packages!

Package 1 – One night stay, plus causeway tickets for two! Ask for rate code DFBFWCL1.

Package 2 – One night stay, plus causeway tickets and seminar tickets for two! Ask for rate code DFBFWSM1.

Package 3 – Two nights stay, plus causeway tickets for two for both nights. Ask for rate code DFBFWCL2.

Package 4 -Two nights stay, plus causeway tickets for two for both nights AND seminar tickets for two! Ask for rate code DFBFWSM2.

We’ll have more details coming up soon, as well as our Causeway review from last year! Stay tuned…

Are you looking forward to this year’s Food and Wine Classic? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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2 Comments

  1. Alan says:

    Although I usually only drink classic cocktails (before 1960), these look like great fun. The hands on aspect of this seminar is brilliant. The only problem is that to sit and have a few drinks of this level is a problem at WDW, as we have discussed before. Most of the hotel lounges and other bars are using pre-mixed drink bases and machines to dispense them. The Swan and Dolphin and a few choice others are the only refuge from the ubiquitous mediocre drinks menus.

  2. AJ says:

    Alan — They’re such a hot spot aren’t they! We loved some of the classic cocktails that are on the menu at bluezoo, too.

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