Every year you proclaim that you’re going to do your holiday entertaining a little differently. You know, like add some spice to the repertoire. This will be the year that you finally follow through, as long as you keep your grandmother’s secret recipe for green bean casserole on the menu (or else Aunt Judy will give you the stink eye). But if you’re anything like us, the thought of getting recipe ideas from some TV cooking show bores you to tears. You’d rather have an interactive experience, so the instructor can tell you exactly where you went wrong and how to get it right. That’s why we’ve gathered a collection of cool destinations across the city where you can learn the tricks of the trade from the pros, whether you’re baking holiday cookies for the kids or shaking up festive cocktails for the grown-ups.
Sweet Treats for Everyone
Get your kids to channel all that youthful energy into something productive by taking them to a holiday cooking class at Give Me Some Sugar in Lakeview. They’ll learn how to make a variety of simple desserts for Thankgiving, including Oreo turkeys, pumpkin hand pies, and ice cream cone “tepees.” The best part: they get to take the goodies they make home with them. It’s $50 per child and reservations are required. The event occurs 2 – 4:30 pm on Sunday, November 23.
You and a pal can head to the DIY shop for an adults-only gingerbread house-making class on December 13, also from 2 – 4:30pm. They supply everything–including the decorations–so it’s up to you to flex your creative muscles to create the most outrageous gingerbread house ever. It’ll be the best centerpiece you’ve ever had. It’s $55 per person, reservations are required, and you’ll get to BYOB. 2205 W. Belmont Avenue. (773) 281-3154
Seasonal Sippers to Remember
Learn how to make Latin-influenced libations at Mercadito during Mixology Academy with head bartender Paul Sauter. For $45, you’ll learn everything you’ll need to know about tequila and the margarita, and of course there will be tastings. Expect a variety of options, from smoky to sweet. It kicks off at 3pm Saturday, November 22. 108 W. Kinzie Street, (312) 329-9555
Impress your friends with market-fresh cocktails during a modern mixology seminar at Mariano’s in Bucktown. Experts will lead the session with four cocktails that you’ll get to taste, plus recipe cards to take home. They’ll be made with different spirits and ingredients, so whether you prefer gin, rum, whiskey, vodka, or some other base, you’ll find something that suits your tastes. It’s $10 per person (make a reservation right here) and there’s no food (you’ll be too busy learning anyway) but there’s an oyster bar and other food stations for a fillup later. The event happens 6:30 – 7:30pm Wednesday, December 10. 2112 N. Ashland Avenue, (773) 342-6585
Having a cocktail party? Punch is having a moment, so make sure you have plenty of it. At Punch House, in Pilsen, you’ll get a primer on the party favorite, with a step-by-step, hands-on demonstration crafting a batch of a seasonal rum punch for afternoon sipping. You’ll also get a recipe card. Tickets are $29 per person, and include two glasses of rum punch. Group attendance is highly recommended, and reservations are required. Get the tickets right here. The session happens 2 – 4pm Saturday, November 22. 1227 W. 18th Street, (312) 526-3851
Cook Like A Pro
There are some awesome classes happening at both locations of Chopping Block. At the Merchandise Mart outpost (312-644-6360), you’ll finally figure out how to make perfect fondue. This one is a demonstration only, and you’ll learn how to make cheese and chocolate fondue. It’s $5 per person. It takes place 3 – 4pm November 28.
You can also learn how to host an unconventional holiday celebration with a brunch at Chopping Block’s Lincoln Square location (4747 N. Lincoln Avenue, (773) 472-6700). You’ll find out how to make dishes like eggs poached in tomato sauce with spinach and feta, as well as chilaquiles verdes (tortilla chips and shredded chicken simmered in tomatillo salsa). You’ll also learn how to poach an egg, which seems easy until you try it for the first time. It’s $75 per person and registration is required. The event takes place 10am – 12:30pm November 29.
And bring along your favorite sangria and head to the BYOB Wooden Spoon for a Spanish tapas making class. Dishes like garlic shrimp, spiced pork skewers, and roasted artichokes with lemon oil dip are certain to be crowd pleasers when you throw your holiday party. It’s $75 per person. It takes place at 3pm November 29. 5047 N. Clark St., (773) 293-3190