For over 10 years, Tammy’s Tastings has been “creating unique food and drink experiences” for locals who want chocolate, cocktails, or the experience of crafting their own unique treat. Founder and owner Tammy Coxen says that the genesis for the business came from a class at Zingerman’s. “I took their truffle workshop in May 2006 and the ones I made didn’t turn out quite right,” she says. “Being the perfectionist I am, I decided to try them again. This batch was a huge hit with my friends at my cohousing community.”
When she sold chocolates for Mother’s Day and sold out, Coxen realized she was onto something. She soon secured space at a commercial kitchen; from there she started scheduling chocolate and wine tastings.
In 2010, Coxen became interested in craft cocktails. “I started throwing cocktail parties at my house and checking out the cocktail scene around the country,” she says.
The opening of the Ravens Club (an upscale bar that specialized in craft beverages) in 2011 turned out to be a game changer for Tammy’s Tastings.
“I had been tapped to be a secret shopper for (Ravens Club) and while debriefing Jeff (Paquin, one of the owners), I mentioned that I was thinking of doing cocktail classes,” she says. “Almost immediately he said, ‘Why don’t you do those here on Mondays when we’re closed.’ ”
Classes started small and quickly grew, moving to The Last Word when Ravens Club opened for business on Monday nights. “I hit the market at just the right time,” Coxen says. “Craft cocktails were becoming huge in our area and we were there to provide the experience.”
Coxen currently offers cocktail classes about twice a month. Attendees learn about the history of the drinks and get hands-on experiencing making their own cocktails. Classes include Fall Cocktails, Winter Warmers, and Better with Bubbles. One of Coxen’s favorites is the Drink Like a Monk class, which featured monk made herbal liqueurs such as green and yellow chartreuse.
The most popular class is the Farm-to-Glass Cocktail class, which highlights cocktails that use seasonal herbs, fruits and vegetables. Prior cocktails have included cucumbers, beets, tomatoes, and even sugar peas.
Tammy’s Tastings is not limited to classes at The Last Word. Coxen regularly books birthday parties, bachelorette parties, and corporate trainings.
“Since expanding the business, I have done a bourbon and bacon class, taught Mixology 101 classes through Ann Arbor’s Rec & Ed program, and did an heirloom apple tasting at the Canton public library,” she says.
Folks who want to hear more about all things cocktail need only tune into Michigan Radio (91.7 FM) every other Friday when Coxen appears on Stateside with Lester Graham.
“I enjoy the opportunity to highlight all the different bartenders we’ve interviewed, and of course our great Michigan products,” she says. “And I’m always tickled when someone says, ‘I heard you on Michigan Radio.’ ”
The enormous success of Tammy’s Tastings allowed Coxen to quit her day job two years ago to focus on her business. Coxen laughs: “My son always says that I have the best job!” Who could disagree with that?
Upcoming classes include History & Hops, a walking tour of downtown brewpubs and bars featuring local beer aficionado and historian Patti Smith, on July 11 from 6:00-8:00 pm and Brunch Cocktails on July 15 from 12-2 pm at the Last Word.
For tickets and more information, log onto http://www.tammystastings.com
To nominate someone for “Patti’s Cool Jobs,” e-mail Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org