Adult classes in NYC, from acting classes to language courses

Adult classes in New York cover virtually every subject you can think of—study our edited selection of courses and workshops and prepare to be inspired.

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  • Photograph: Courtesy Astor Center

    Adult classes in NYC: Advanced Bar Skills at Astor Center

  • Photograph: Courtesy Astor Center

    Adult classes in NYC: Advanced Bar Skills at Astor Center

  • Adult classes in NYC: Applied Deconstruction 101

  • Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Glass

    Adult classes in NYC: Intro to Neon Weekend at Brooklyn Glass

  • Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Glass

    Adult classes in NYC: Instructor David Ablon at Brooklyn Glass

  • Photograph: Martin Seck

    Adult classes in NYC: Fashion Merchandising at Parsons

  • Photograph: Courtesy OM Factory

    Adult classes in NYC: AcroYoga at OM Factory

  • Photograph: Courtesy Furniture Joint

    Adult classes in NYC: Beginner upholstery at the Furniture Joint

  • Photograph: Courtesy French Institute Alliance Française

    Adult classes in NYC: A French class at FIAF

  • Photograph: Courtesy the New York Studio School

    Adult classes in NYC: Painting at the New York Studio School

Photograph: Courtesy Astor Center

Adult classes in NYC: Advanced Bar Skills at Astor Center


If you’ve always wanted to learn another language, acquire upholstery skills, or perfect your improv or writing technique, what’s holding you back? Whether you want to boost your career with professional training or just do what you love, find inspiration to go back to school with our roundup of the best adult classes and workshops. Many institutions also offer the option to study online.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of adult classes in NYC

Bartending and Brewing | Cooking | Crafts | Fashion | Health and fitness | Home and garden | Language | Performing acts | Self-improvement | Visual arts arts | Web and IT | Writing

Bartending and brewing

Whether you’re planning a late-summer soiree or you want to make the most of last-chance outdoor tippling, Chelsea Wine Vault (75 Ninth Ave at 15th St, inside Chelsea Market; 212-462-4244, chelseawinevault.com) holds a tastingcentric “Summery Spirits and Cocktails” class (Aug 22 6:30–8pm; $75) in its elegantly revamped event space, an ideal way to bone up on refreshing drinks. Participants learn to mix artful punches, juleps, tropical tiki drinks and bracing gimlets while getting a primer on each ingredient, from the base spirits to bitters and citrus fruits, and trying the concoctions for themselves. Everyone goes home with recipes and a cocktail shaker.

If your last mixology class got you thinking about trying to go pro, Advanced Bar Skills (Aug 14 6:30–8:30pm; $69) at Astor Center (399 Lafayette St at 4th St; 212-674-7501, astorcenternyc.com) will bring you a step closer to Sasha Petraske–protégé material. Taught by mixology veteran April Wachtel, the lesson imparts techniques in speed, multitasking and service. Participants get behind a bar to practice making various drinks simultaneously, upping their efficiency while sipping some of the cocktails they’ve made.

Home-brewing shop Bitter & Esters (700 Washington Ave between Prospect and St. Marks Pl, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; 917-596-7261, bitterandesters.com), which opened in 2011, has quickly become a prime destination for wanna-be brewmeisters. Its Brewshop 101 class (2hrs 30mins; $55), offered three or four times a week and limited to 14 students, teaches everything you need to know to brew five gallons of beer at home. Participants watch a PowerPoint presentation before trying their hand at the craft and sampling suds made by a previous class. Those wishing to go beyond the basics can choose from three advanced classes, each offered approximately once a month. According to owner John LaPolla, “90 percent of the flavor of beer comes from the yeast,” which explains why B&E devotes an entire class to the essential ingredient (90mins; $75); it comprises a lecture and a presentation on the optimal way to treat yeast to make the best beer, followed by a tasting of eight versions of the same beer, each fermented with a different strain. A session on all-grain brewing (2hrs 30 mins; $55) guides you through making wort, the sweet barley liquid that acts as the beer’s base, solely from grains; and the lesson on hops (3hrs 30mins; $70) includes tips on growing your own.


Cooking

Given its status as America’s original melting pot, NYC is an excellent place to learn to cook a variety of international cuisines. At Rustico Cooking (40 W 39th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 917-602-1519, rusticocooking.com), Italian cookbook author Micol Negrin and her husband, Dino De Angelis, offer a diverse roster of hands-on classes, from pasta making to ones focusing on a specific regional cuisine. Students are divvied into several groups to make a selection of dishes, which they eat together at the end of the class. Among this fall’s highlights is the third annual “Funghi, Funghi, Funghi” (Sept 16 6–9pm; $110), which explores a variety of woodsy mushrooms in such dishes as ravioli filled with roasted shiitake, goat cheese and ricotta, bathed in truffle-laced sage butter; veal scaloppine topped with an array of wild mushrooms and marsala; and tortino, a wild-mushroom flan. Though seafood may not be the first thing that comes to mind when Italian food is mentioned, it plays the star role in many classic dishes. Among the creations participants prepare in Rustico’s “Succulent Seafood” (Sept 28 noon–3pm; $110) are a pasta featuring monkfish chunks in amatriciana sauce (pancetta, tomatoes and chili); Mediterranean sea bass (branzino) in a saffron–white wine sauce; and a shrimp and asparagus risotto.

For three decades, fans of Indian food have flocked to Julie Sahni Cooking School (101 Clark St at Henry St, No.13A, Brooklyn Heights; 888-606-5333, juliesahni.com) to study with Sahni herself, who has authored eight cookbooks, including the iconic Classic Indian Cooking. The school, established in 1973, is known for its comprehensive (three-and-a-half-day) and intensive (two-day) programs, but newbies may want to start with the three-hour “Taste of India” workshop (Aug 25, Sept 15, Oct 8, Nov 10, Dec 30 1–4pm; $495), which guides students through the preparation of a three-course meal and is limited to just four people. Participants learn about Indian spices and spice blends, sauces and how to make pilafs while crafting the meal’s two appetizers, three main courses (featuring seafood, lamb and/or chicken) and dessert.

Helping to sate New Yorkers’ constant demand for French cooking classes is “Saveur French Classics” (Aug 9, 23 6:30–9pm; Aug 18 5–8pm; $110) at Miette Culinary Studio (109 MacDougal St between Bleecker St and Minetta Ln, suite 2; 212-460-9322, mietteculinarystudio.com). Students of Belgian chef Paul Vandewoude (of Tartine and Zinc) learn to whip up a quintet of Gallic favorites, including poussin Vallé d’Auge (chicken with onions, calvados and cream), gratin dauphinois (au gratin potatoes) and soufflé au chocolat, in the spot’s second-floor kitchen. Each participant goes home with a year’s subscription to Saveur, a canvas tote and a recipe book.

The executive chef of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market, born-and-bred Brooklynite Anthony Ricco, stops by the Institute of Culinary Education (50 W 23rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 800-522-4610, recreational.ice.edu) to teach some of the tricks of his trade in the class “Light Asian Flavors” (Aug 19 6–10pm; $125). On the menu for the evening are some of Ricco’s signature dishes—many of which are riffs on recipes he encountered while traveling in East Asia—including spicy Thai slaw with crispy shallots and vinaigrette made from condensed milk; Indonesian roasted chicken; and a fruit salad with spiced passion-fruit broth and white-pepper ice cream.


Crafts

Whether you want to create abstract sculptures à la Dan Flavin or variations on classic signs, you’ll gain the basic techniques at the Brooklyn Glass Intro to Neon Weekend (103 14th St between Second and Third Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-569-2110, brooklynglass.com; Sept 28, 29 11am–4pm; $395), taught by neon artist David Ablon, owner of the U.S. chapter of distribution organization Tecnolux. Over two days, you’ll learn how to manipulate glass tubes using tools such as ribbon burners (for bending curves) and crossfires (for sharp bends and splices); how to attach electrodes; and how to evacuate the tubes and fill them with noble gasses. You’ll also be initiated into creating different colors and light effects—as education director Alan Iwamura explains, neon in a clear glass tube is always red, but using a green or blue tube will change the hue. Other noble gasses create different effects, such as argon, which “mimics incandescent light.” Participants can expect to complete a free-form piece on the first day, then move on to a more complex project. An eight-session course (starts Sept 10, Tue 6–9pm; $595) is also available, as are a variety of glassblowing classes.

A wall sconce made out of an old rat trap. A medicine cabinet refashioned from a 1950s suitcase. A table balanced on a frame of wooden crutches. These are just a few of the inventive items Rodney Allen Trice has created from objects that might have otherwise ended up in a landfill. Trice, who was named one of Time magazine’s Green Design 100 in 2009 and is currently working on a sustainable-design TV pilot, offers Applied Deconstruction 101 (applieddeconstruction101.com), a series of single- and four-session workshops, in his Bushwick studio; contact him via his website, as classes are organized in response to demand. Each begins with an explanation of the designer’s philosophy and in some cases you may have “homework,” to seek out items before you arrive. “A huge part of the philosophy is about how you see objects around you—how to pay attention and look at things,” Trice explains. In the four-hour workshop “The Family Jewels” ($65), Trice, a devotee of large, chunky adornments, shows participants how to turn an object of their choice—anything from a broken watch to a pile of paperclips—into a piece of wearable art. In four-part courses ($285–$325), the designer shows students how to transform unlikely objects into hanging or table lamps, or turn old luggage into such useful items as a table or a medicine cabinet.

“Welding is one of those things, like dancing or sex: You just have to get a feel for it,” says Madagascar Institute class organizer Kim Couchot. “Some people are better at it from the start than others, other people need more practice.” The self-styled “art combine” (217 Butler St between Bond and Nevins Sts, Gowanus, Brooklyn; madagascarinstitute.com) usually offers four welding classes per month: three-hour sessions in MIG or TIG welding ($50 plus $10 materials fee) and a six-and-a-half-hour class that combines both techniques ($110 plus $15 materials fee). MIG welding, using a “gun” equipped with a wire that provides both the feed metal and power, is the most popular; the slower, cleaner but more difficult TIG welding employs a tungsten electrode. Since classes are limited to six, each participant will get at least a half hour’s worth of welding, but don’t expect to make anything: The session is devoted to learning safety and technique. If you have your own project in mind, whether sculpture or something more practical, join the Institute ($50–$75 per month) for unlimited use of the facilities and 50 percent off further classes.

Once you’ve perused the fabulous adornments on display in “Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger” at the Museum of Arts and Design (2 Columbus Circle at Broadway; 212-299-7777, madmuseum.org; through Jan 20, 2014), learn to create your own pieces with prominent jeweler David Mandel, whose work is featured in the exhibition. Four- to five-hour-long workshops include “Remixing Jewelry, Old and New” (Oct 19 at 1pm; $65, MAD members $55), in which Mandel shows participants how to take apart and repurpose old pieces. In “Crafting Wire Beads” (Nov 9 at 1pm; $65, MAD members $55), he’ll impart techniques for making large spherical beads using wire, plastic, fabric and other materials.

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