THE BASEMENT of a hotel is one of the last places I would expect to host an evening of cocktail making.

But the smugglers' tunnels that run beneath the Old Ship Hotel in Brighton turned out to be the perfect setting for the venue’s debut masterclass.

Packed with charm and charisma, the walls of The Cellars were practically screaming stories at me as I ducked down to reach the reception area to meet the group.

Joining the rest of my new friends for the evening, we tucked into a welcome drink – a long, punchy number with a kick of chili – lovely.

The Argus: The hotel plans to make the classes a regular eventThe hotel plans to make the classes a regular event

The air was damp and musty, which in Brighton is usually reason to contact your landlord, but here, it just added to the ambience, with a flickering light bulb amplifying the spooky atmosphere even further.

Intentional, I had presumed, but alas it was just dodgy electrics.

From our initial meeting point, we went through to the private room. A simply gorgeous, mystical cavern, dimly lit with giant candelabras and pretty tea lights dancing in the background.

Our class of 15 was guided by Miles Cunliffe from Mixology Group, a team outsourced by the hotel to host the classes.

The Argus: The cocktails flowed at the eventThe cocktails flowed at the event

Miles oozes pure passion – I imagine he dreams of vodka waterfalls and has pure tequila coursing through his veins. His flamboyant gesticulations are that of a man who lives and breathes his trade, and it is hard not to feel equally enthused along with him.

We begin with an introduction to the equipment laid out in front of us, all kinds of gadgetry which at first glance could appear daunting, but Miles takes the time to guide us through each step carefully and is only too happy to help should we get a bit lost.

The first drink we make is a gorgeous shaken number, mainly comprising vanilla vodka and elderflower, with just a hint of chili. It really was something.

As we nibble on olives and contemplate the fact we have all successfully made something we would pay for in a bar, Miles chats with us and keep the evening flowing.

The Argus: The BrambleThe Bramble

The next beverage is a Bramble – gin with lots of lemon, and some fantastic blackberry liqueur. Entirely different to the previous drink, but equally delicious.

It is great fun watching a group of novices get stuck in to making a few drinks – and even better fun drinking them.

The session lasts for around 45 minutes, before we  return to the lounge area for nibbles and tipsy chatting.

And so came the end of the debut cocktail masterclass at The Old Ship Hotel, and what an evening it was.

Often, classes such as these can feel disjointed, and try-hard, but not here. The combination of a stunningly characterful setting, and an authentic host made for a brilliant evening – and one that is certain to put the Old Ship at the forefront of things to do in Brighton.

Though I’d recommend taking the bus home afterwards.