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The Best Boozy Classes on the Upper West Side

By Emily Frost | April 25, 2013 9:57pm | Updated on April 30, 2013 7:03am

UPPER WEST SIDE — After many years of torpor, the Upper West Side is experiencing a burgeoning nightlife scene, but the buzz may not be for everyone.

For those hoping to cast off the same-old, same-old constraints of bar life without giving up the booze — fear not.

DNAinfo.com New York has rounded up some of the Upper West Side's best BYOB offerings and adult-only classes that actively invite you to imbibe. So if you're looking to chase your downward dog with a sip of wine or unleash your artistic side with a cocktail, search no further.

"Whether you’re 22 and working in your first job, or you’re a husband and wife and want to have a date night, or a doctor and just need to switch out of your left brain — we provide people with an experience they don’t have [otherwise]," said Rebecca Schweiger, owner and founder of The Art Studio, which offers wine-infused art classes and BYOB sessions. 

Schweiger, an artist, believes art is transformative. Her goal, she said, is "to combine all that with the opportunity to have a glass of wine and kick back and have this fun, fulfilling experience."

Yogi and wine specialist Stefani Jackenthal also recognizes the power of combining wine with weeknight activities. For her, a glass of wine extends the benefits of stress-reducing yoga, a concept she's bent on bringing to Upper West Side yoga classes.

"People love the idea," she said. 

Wine and Painting Party 
The Art Studio, 145 W. 96th St.
Tuesdays from 7 - 10 p.m. and Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m.
$45 includes unlimited wine, art supplies and instruction

"Sometimes the idea of taking an art class feels intimidating, and with New Yorkers, time is a rare bird," explained Schweiger, who founded The Art Studio nine years ago.

"When you add in a nice bottle of wine or BYOB, immediately people feel like 'Maybe I can do this.'"

The experience of drinking also takes the edge out of classroom dynamics, Schweiger said.

"[Wine] makes it less serious and less competitive. We have a [misguided] perception that you have to be Picasso to be an art class," she said.

Upper East Sider Amanda Heidel, 26, and her two roommates decided that an art class with wine couldn't be too intimidating and decided to try it.

"I thought it looked like a really cool place. I thought it was just a fun thing," Heidel said

She wound up totally immersed in her art, having felt a profound connection, and didn't want to leave.

"[The class] pulled out a lot in me that I didn’t know was there," said Heidel, who works in advertising.

She was so moved by the class that she's looking for ways to shift her career towards creative expression. 

Jamie Askin, 45, didn't want to wander far from her neighborhood, but she did want to try something different.

I wanted to step outside my comfort zone and feel like a beginner again," said Askin, who runs a Kraft Service catering company.

She hadn't bargained for the experience to be so much fun, she said.

Helped along by the wine, there was a buoyant and collaborative atmosphere in the class, Askin recalled.

"Nobody got really loaded but it certainly lowered inhibition levels," she said.

"There were a lot more people than I expected. There were married couples. There were people on a date. There were girls just going to have fun and guy friends — it was amazing how we all got along."

Heidel purchased the class on Groupon and said the studio was far less crowded than she expected from a Groupon experience, where you often have to wait months to redeem your credit due to high demand.   

Couples Painting Class Party
The Art Studio, 145 W. 96th St.
Saturdays from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
$75 per couple includes unlimited wine, painting supplies and instruction

"Instead of everyone working on their own painting, a couple will work on a painting together," Schweiger explained.

Couples on a first date mix with couples who've been together for years during the two-and-a-half hour session. 

"[The class] 
creates an intimacy and a meaningful experience that you really don’t have in many other places," Schweiger said.

BYOB Painting Class
The Art Studio, 145 W. 96th St.
$150 for four consecutive nights and two canvases

This BYOB class is structured differently from other one-time classes at The Art Studio.

Participants, who can be complete novices, sign up to attend the class on four consecutive weekday nights. They bring their own libations, with the goal of finishing two canvases.

"The environment is super friendly. Within 15 minutes, people who didn’t know each other are talking and sharing — [asking each other] ‘Can I give you a glass of wine?’" said Schweiger.

And even though there's plenty of alcohol flowing, people can get engrossed in the artistic process and sometimes forget to drink at all, Schweiger said.

Vino and Vinyasa
Pure Yoga Studio, 204 W. 77th St.
Also available by request at private homes and offices 

Vino and Vinyasa is perfect for people who want to keep positive energy flowing and enjoy a glass or two of wine after yoga class, said NTS Wine Tasting founder Stefani Jackenthal. 

Jackenthal sets up shop in the lobby of Pure Yoga with several different wines from across the world and offers people the chance to taste them for free, while lingering and enjoying themselves. 

"For the most part people are pretty psyched when they come out of the class," said Jackenthal, who is generous with her pours and encourages participants to try a range of wines — white, red and sparkling. 

"Wine is a yogi's best friend," proclaimed Francesca Valarezo as she sipped pinot noir after a vinyasa class. "It's a holistic medicine for the body."

20's & 30's Rooftop Yoga and Wine Reception
The JCC, 334 Amsterdam Ave.
Classes monthly through spring and summer

$15 for members; $18 for non-members

The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan has also picked up on the popularity of combining wine and yoga. 

"We like to pair [activities] with wine because people enjoy it — it’s a great way to relax after a long day of work," said Adina Schwartz, who runs some of the center's 20s and 30s programs. 

The JCC offers a one-hour vinyasa yoga class that's geared toward people in their 20s and 30s and is followed by wine and snacks on its Meyerson Family Roof Terrace, which offers views of the city.

"It’s something different. It’s not just another drinks event. There are so many of those in the city," Schwartz said

Having the yoga class first is an intentional move by the JCC to promote bonding. "Afterwards you have new friends you can talk about the class with," she explained.

And though there's a perception that yoga is more popular with women, Schwartz said there's a balanced mix of genders in this incredibly popular class. 

Tapas Cocktail Party
The JCC, 334 Amsterdam Ave.
May 30, 7 p.m. 
$85 for members; $95 for non-members

Cooking instructors will teach students how to make 10 types of tapas, from mashed chickpea, basil and radish dip to bites made from Asian pears, brie and figs.

Unlike many other cooking classes, students will also learn how to make cocktails, including a cucumber lychee martini, white sparkling sangria and a star anise spice cocktail. For chocolate lovers, there's even Mexican hot chocolate shooters.

"They will be enjoying the cocktails [as they go]," Schwartz said.

Beer Pong
The JCC, 334 Amsterdam Ave.

May 30, June 20, July 24, August TBD
$15 for members, $18 for non-members

Beer pong isn't exactly a class per se, but it involves teamwork, according to Schwartz. 

After the JCC offered beer pong at a barbecue last summer, the organization was peppered with demands to bring it back, and has launched a series this summer on its roof, Schwartz said.

"We want this to feel like a party atmosphere. We’ll probably open the event up to 150 people," she said.

The Little Shop of Crafts 
711 Amsterdam Ave.
Open studio, 
Wednesday through Saturday, 6:30 - 10 p.m.

When Herb Goldberg opened The Little Shop of Crafts on the Upper West Side seven years ago, he wanted to create a relaxing space for adults to do crafts and projects — and found that wine made the perfect addition.

"We thought 'Why don’t we serve complimentary wine to make it feel like an adult atmosphere?'" he said.

"We try to make it as irresistible as possible," Goldberg said of the drop-in art studio where the only charge is for the primary materials. 

Visitors select from an array of more than 1,500 items, including mosaic pieces, cups, bowls, woodwork, wooden trains, mirrors and more
all priced between $17 and $29.

Additional art supplies and the wine are free and crafters can take as long as they like to complete their projects, or come back later to finish their work at no extra charge.

The wine helps create a non-threatening atmosphere, Goldberg said. 

"It’s not about getting drunk, it’s about relaxing," he said. "We even have kosher wine by request."

Saturdays are generally the most popular day according to the manager, and visitors' ages range from young adult to late 30s. 

Women are often leading men to the shop only to have their boyfriends or husbands become more enthusiastic than they are, Goldberg said. 

"It’s wonderful for couples because everybody relaxes and conversation flows much easier," he said.