MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marines gathered at the station community center to temporarily escape from the burdens of everyday Marine Corps life March 21.
For a $10 cover charge, Marines attended the Great Escape’s At-Home Bartending Class sponsored by Semper Fit and taught by James Rudnick, a former bartender and Marine.
“The idea for a home bartending class came from my experiences when my husband was deployed,” said Mary Tatton, Semper Fit assistant. “I would go to the bars around town with my girlfriends and I never really knew what to order to drink. I hated paying eight dollars for a drink that I didn't like. This was a way to try out popular drinks to see which ones you liked and also learn how to make those drinks at home.
“The class went off without a hitch. We had a great turnout,” she added. “(Everyone) had a great time. James Rudnick was awesome. He knew what he was talking about and he was really laid back so it was easy to pay attention.”
Rudnick said that if somebody wants to get drunk, they can drink beer or whiskey. This class was aimed to prepare students for occasions that are more high class.
“I didn’t come here to teach people how to get people drunk,” said Rudnick. “I wanted them to learn how to make a good cocktail and be responsible for the people at their parties.”
Rudnick blended a mix of instructions and demonstrations with drinks and stories to keep the class interesting.
“I wanted to teach people what they needed, the recipes and basic techniques, to mix drinks and how to have fun doing it,” said Rudnick. “I was able to teach the basics and a few tricks of the trade as well. It was a hands-on class. We kept the atmosphere light and I think everyone had a good time.”
Pvt. Angela Huerta, Marine Aircraft Group 13 administration clerk, said she finally found a class she felt comfortable in.
“I really liked the class. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the people. The drinks just made it that much better,” said Huerta, a native of Visalia, Calif. “We drank and had a good time without getting dumb.”
While Rudnick wanted his students to have a fun time, he also had a very serious message.
“We tried to promote safe drinking habits. (Rudnick) explained at the beginning of the class that we were not there to get hammered, but to have a great time sampling drinks and enjoying their flavor,” said Tatton. “He also talked about the responsibility you take when you serve someone a drink.”
Semper Fit took responsibility for the students in the class and had a van standing by to take home students who had a few too many sample drinks.
“We want people to go home, make the drinks for their friends, but we also want them to remember that they need to make sure that their friends get home safe,” said Tatton.
Semper Fit already has the next potentially life-impacting Great Escape planned for 6:30 p.m. April 25 at the station community center. It will focus on tasty, healthy meals that can be made even by barracks residents without kitchens.