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Megan McClinton, speaking at Monday's event with Bud Kennedy, will be teaching Cocktails 101 on Thursday. Photo by Jeff Prince

Have you ever invited a date to your lair, er, living room and whispered seductively, “Can I make you a drink?” And then your special someone says, “Sure, I’ll have a Pendleton Old Fashioned with lime and heavy on the syrup, please – but only if you make your syrup from scratch.” And then you say, “How about an Old Crow and water?” and watch your chance at love wither on the vine.

Few things are sexier than being able to whip together a gorgeous cocktail using fresh and scintillating ingredients that titillate a tongue to tango. You can make that happen by attending “Cocktails 101 with Megan McClinton” from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday at HG Sply Co (1621 River Run, Ste 176, 682-730-6070). The event is free.

Want to make a proper martini or a Tom Collins using fresh juice? McClinton will show you how.

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“I’m going to share some industry insight and tips and tricks for [attendees] to make a better cocktail at home or at parties or with friends, and give them some things to look for when drinking cocktails in public,” said McClinton, a bartender at The Usual and the president of Fort Worth’s chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild, a professional organization for drink slingers.

Syrups can be key to making a sublime cocktail, and McClinton is a syrup master willing to share her knowledge. She uses varying combinations of sugars, herbs, and spices.

“Most classic cocktails call for some sort of simple syrup,” she said. “You can pack a lot of flavor and texture in that one ingredient, and it keeps in the fridge, so you don’t have to do it new every time.”

McClinton’s is the final event of Cocktail Education Week, which ends on Saturday with McClinton’s presentation and began last Monday with “What Journalists Are Looking for in Your Bar.” Fort Worth Weekly associate editor Eric Griffey moderated a panel that included Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Bud Kennedy and three other local journalists at MASS.

Kennedy said the local publication doesn’t do much of the traditional restaurant food reviews such as those written regularly by The New York Times. 

“We are looking for news, and most of all, we’re looking for anything that is new, different, or changing,” Kennedy told the audience. “One of the greatest misconceptions is that the people who get written up in the paper have some sort of secret “in” or have some magic way to get in the paper. The people who get written up … are the people who send me notes and news and tell me what’s going on. If you’re not getting written up, it means you haven’t sent me anything lately. Tell me what’s new on your menu. Tell me about your seasonal changes. Tell me something new I can base a news article around.”

That panel was followed two days later with “Resources for Connecting with Our Homeless Neighbors,” a panel that tackled helping the homeless.

Up next on Thursday is a discussion on the huge role that women have played in bringing spirits to the masses. “Women in Whisk(e)y” will feature Anna Mains from Maker’s Mark discussing how women helped create the country’s best whiskeys. The event is at 1 p.m. at Reata Restaurant, 310 Houston St., 817-336-1009.

“There is a long history of women who have shaped, specifically, bourbon but whiskey all over the world, particularly with Maker’s Mark,” said Jason Pollard, a bartender at The Usual. “There have been a number of distillers and distillery employees over the years who have been women.”

Maker’s Mark bourbon was founded in the 1950s by Bill Samuels, but his wife, Margie Samuels, is the one who came up with the name and marketing angles that helped make the whiskey so popular.

“The iconic red wax on the bottle, the hand-drawn label – that was all her,” Pollard said. “He handled making what went in the bottle, and she handled building that brand and bringing it to the masses.”

Cocktail Education Week is sponsored by the United States Bartenders Guild to showcase learning opportunities about making, serving, and consuming great cocktails.

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