Erik Holzherr started bartending 10 years ago in Los Angeles. Before that he was an officer in the U.S. Air Force. Holzherr witnessed the start of the craft cocktail movement while growing up in New York City and was able to hone his skills on the west coast where he worked towards his dream of one day opening his own bar. That dream came to fruition when he opened up DC’s Wisdom in 2008. Gin fans may know Wisdom for its expansive gin list. “All the botanicals and flavors, its a little bit of a witches brew,” said Holzherr in a recent conversation with On Tap, “It’s exciting if you mix it correctly. It will pop and have some very rewarding compliments.”
Holzherr’s newest project is an expansive mixology class for bartenders and casual cocktail fans alike. The program is a response to what Holzherr describes as a more informed customer: “People are way more educated and interested in cocktails. They are genuinely curious about the history behind these spirits and how they mix with other ingredients.” The classes, which are offered as a continuous cycle, take place on Sundays at Wisdom and Mondays at Church & State. “I wanted to share everything I’ve learned over the years but also expand on my overall knowledge of spirits and bartending,” Holzherr said, “I’m excited and happy. It’s something I’ve been working on for years.”
So far the class is midway through its first cycle and the feedback has been extremely positive. “If someone is a bartender or they want an in-depth look at the history of distilling they would take the full class,” Holzherr notes. “If you’ve never bartended before and wanted to learn more about a single spirit there is the option of a single class.” Additionally, the school is a great and unique way to spend a birthday or celebrate a special occasion.
Classes are intentionally small; Holzherr hopes to keep them to fewer than 10 people at a time to allow for a truly hands-on educational experience. Holzherr and two of his long-term bartenders teach the classes that are split between five classroom portions and several behind-the-bar classes at his two establishments. This means that each student will graduate with real bartending experience and knowledge. “We want people to walk away confident that they have the skills to work high-end hospitality and to have a good range of cocktails in their arsenal.”
Classes range from novice, intermediate and advanced and teach basics like using proper bar utensils, staple liquors and more. Prices start at $185. Learn more and reserve your spot in class at Holzherr’s website, www.gintender.com.