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    Bit to Do

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    Copper & Kings Distillery is hard to miss, due to the bright orange of their modular, contemporary design. As I walk into the open concept distillery, I am presented with a small green notebook, a pen, a slip with two cocktail recipes and the immediate smell of apple and cinnamon flooding from the two huge copper brandy stills. The 25 of us, dressed in inappropriately snug jeans for the late summer heat, look at each other and realize: This isn’t bourbon country anymore.

    We’re here for a class organized by LevelUp Louisville. The group’s creative team, led by founder and “happiness chief” Natalia Bishop, orchestrates pop-up classes in various fields, taught by experts and hosted at trendy Louisville locations. Today’s class: Mixology 101. For $25, we toured the distillery, had a free cocktail tasting, learned how to make the Jack Rose and a Manhattan (up, of course), and ate three free charcuterie boards. It was the best $25 I’ve ever spent.

    Image: Avery Walts

    That night, I became a pseudo-bartender, under the direction of Butchertown Grocery’s Bar Manager, Nic Christiansen. She showed us how to whip up the brandy-based Jack Rose, and then it was our turn. Add in one ounce of unaged apple brandy (Copper & Kings brand if you know what’s good for you), one ounce of aged brandy (again, Copper & Kings), and three-quarters of an ounce each of lemon juice and of house-made grenadine. Finally, add the ice and shake, shake, shake. Never stir a citrus cocktail. Make sure to strain as you pour it, before adding an orange peel garnish to finish. Christiansen even showed us how to light our peel on fire to extract the flavor.

    Image: LevelUp Louisville

    Bishop, a native of Colombia and UofL graduate, created the group as a spin-off of her community workspace, Story Louisville, a place for local artists, creatives and entrepreneurs to gather and collaborate, which also serves as the venue for several LevelUp Lou classes. Both share the goal of connecting people with similar interests in an intimate setting, without the commitment of taking a full-blown course. “I wanted to give members an opportunity to get to know each other and also bring new people in to visit our space by teaching pop up classes here,” she said. “I wanted it to bring people together, to be fun and exciting, but also for our students to take a skill home with them, something they can replicate on their own and spark a fire in them for a new hobby or trade.”

    The group has no shortage of classes to choose from. Past classes have included sign language, hand-lettering, and a flower making/craft beer night with Monnik Beer Co. Natalia maintains that the goal of the group is to foster connections and “above all have fun.” In the future, Bishop hopes to coordinate at least eight events per month. “People are contacting us wanting to teach and host classes,” she said. “We have a few requirements (aka we want to make sure they are experts in their field and have some teaching experience, and more importantly we want them to be all around cool people) and of course I visit the venues personally to make sure it’s a good fit.”

    Image: Avery Walts

    As the sun crept below the downtown skyline and the buzz of brandy set in, the class slowly filtered out. The table was still caked in a booze-concoction aftermath, but by this point, the brandy aroma was no longer overwhelming. It was inviting and I didn’t want to leave. My interest in taking another LevelUp Louisville class was fully confirmed.

    Cover Image: Avery Walts

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