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History of cocktails focus of new Bitters and Bites event in Oxford

A new cocktail class is coming to Oxford — and it’s for a good cause.

Bitters and Bites will be a fundraiser for the Arts Council Endowment Fund and is set to feature two local bartenders, Ivy McLellan of Snackbar and Joseph Stinchcomb of Saint Leo, educating those in attendance on the backgrounds of classic cocktails and how to properly taste one.

The event will be taking place on Sunday at the Powerhouse from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“Our city has such a strong food culture with great bartenders that they hope to raise up the discussion and knowledge about cocktails,” said Wayne Andrews, the director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. “The event will benefit the YAC’s endowment fund and is part of our fall donation drive culminating in our annual 72 Society party.”

McLellan says this event is something that he and Stinchcomb have been “talking about for a while.”

“We have always enjoyed discussing what we are working on or interested in at our bars,” he said. “We have a common desire to help this burgeoning cocktail scene in Oxford flourish. The idea of a class is a good way to get people into a nice approachable setting and get them excited about what they’re drinking.”

He says that once they approached Andrews about it, he took the reins from there.

“We are profoundly lucky to have someone as passionate and hardworking leading our Arts Council,” McLellan added. “For the class we are focusing on simply executed well-rounded cocktails. Some of the backbones of their particular spirits. We will also delve into the history of said cocktails and learn a bit about the spirits themselves. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Good food. Good drinks. Good company. Hopefully not long winded, boring booze nerds.”

Stinchcomb hopes that people leave with “what goes in their glass when they order a cocktail.”

“We also want to make sure that everyone has a basic knowledge of spirits and classic cocktails as well,” he said.

Andrews says that it’s important to not count out the arts for the economic impact it has on Oxford and the surrounding communities.

“We completed an economic impact study last year documenting we had 222,000 people active in arts and cultural events generating $11 million of economic impact as our programs attract people for the cultural experience and connect them with our restaurants and shopping experiences,” he said.   

Admission is $50 for members of the Arts Council and $60 for non-members.