Wet Your Whistle

Wet Your Whistle

‘Waitress’ delivers cocktail class


Walton Arts Center staff members are constantly striving for compelling ways to engage guests and create dynamic connections to the shows they present. The Broadway Book Club series, the Creative Conversation for Broadway subscribers and the Arts and Appetizers program are all established opportunities for guests to interact more deeply with the context of a show or with the venue itself.

Still, director of events and patron services Nick Zazal reveals his engagement team is always looking for occasions throughout the year to “create another something.” Whether that be an authentic tea service add-on during “The King and I,” a Latin dance party following “On Your Feet!” or a cocktail class led by a local master mixologist, finding new ways to enhance the show experience is a fun challenge.

“I think the instruction angle is what’s unique about it — actually having a class that teaches people how to do cocktails at home,” Zazal shares. Any theater in the country will have a specialty drink at the bar themed to the show, he points out.

“And patrons love those. But this is something totally different because we’re not just saying, ‘Here’s this drink that fits the theme.’ We’re saying, ‘Here’s a drink, and here’s how to make it.’ Let’s give you a takeaway so that if you enjoy this, you can go home, and you can replicate it.”

Teaching guests to make that delicious libation is Steven Idlet, mixologist and bar manager at the iconic Fayetteville institution Maxine’s Taproom. Idlet led the WAC’s first cocktail class in October in conjunction with “Jersey Boys,” focusing on signature drinks from that era. When he was asked to return for a class during “Waitress,” Idlet got to flex his creativity.

“I spent some time up at the bar and played around with pie ingredients and started building a flavor profile,” Idlet says of the two original recipes he created for the pie-themed class. “My two favorites are pumpkin and apple, which will show through in this class because one of the cocktails has a pumpkin puree, and the other one has fresh, muddled apples. So I started with that as my base and then built around those with spirits and citrus and spices and bitters.”

The hour before the show, Idlet will instruct guests on how to create their pie cocktails — which they will then, of course, imbibe — and will send guests away with the recipe to re-create their drinks at home.

“Just building good, solid, well-balanced cocktails, for people who want to learn how to make quality cocktails, that’s the most important thing,” he adds. “And that always just goes back to the basics: adding a proper amount of acidity or sweetness, proper technique on shaking and stirring, what kind of ice you use.

“I think the goal of this class is to encourage people to either make their own cocktails or go out and try different things that they haven’t tried before. And I want to help foster that and spark people on something that I’m very passionate about.”



‘Waitress’ Cocktail Class

WHEN — 6:30 p.m. April 13

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $35, as an add-on to the 8 p.m. performance

INFO — 443-5600, waltonartscenter.org

FYI — Patrons who have already purchased tickets to the Saturday evening performance may still add the cocktail class by visiting the “Waitress” info page on the WAC website.

Categories: Food