Do you know the difference between a Julep strainer and a Hawthorne strainer? How to use the drinker shaker or the proper way to stir your cocktail to ice-cold perfection? Maybe you have the bar tools figured out and you just need some ideas for creative mixers, or you just want to throw back a few craft cocktails with some friends.

Either way, you can do all of those things at Prohibition-style speakeasy cocktail bar Congress Street Up during their new cocktail classes offered Monday nights.

The bar is located upstairs in the American Prohibition Museum, 209 W. Saint Julian St., and the Congress Street Up entrance is at 220 W. Congress St. The entrance alone gets you into the speakeasy mood, where you are greeted by the bartenders in their Prohibition-era clothing and directed up a dimly lit stairway.

The idea of these cocktail classes is not only to teach you how to use your bar tools and create tasty cocktails, but also to give you the confidence to branch out and try new things. And who doesn't like to play bartender when your friends come over for a dinner party?

If you're like me, your confidence may start out pretty low at the beginning of class, when you look at the table set for you and realize you don't know how to use half the tools offered. Each table is set for either a pair or for solo guests with a glass pitcher for mixing, a set of bar tools, small bottles of bitters and other ingredients you'll use. Clever local add-ons like Byrd's cookies are also on the table so you can cleanse your palate between drinks — or coat your tummy in case you forgot to eat before you arrive.

The bartenders are total professionals and do a great job to get you relaxed. They start out the class by introducing themselves, welcoming you and then going around the room asking each person where they are from and their liquor of choice. For example, Kim from Savannah, and my drink of choice is vodka. Yes, you have to narrow down to one. This opener gives everyone a chance to get comfortable and start engaging with one another, and your chosen liquor is presented to you at the end of the class to use to make a special cocktail.

Then the real fun begins. I've been known to make a variety of cocktails at home, but when asked if I knew the proper way to hold a shaker, I realized I've been making my Manhattans all wrong and watering them down. I also learned that I should have put my vermouth in the refrigerator, and the better-quality vermouth really does make a much better drink.

I won't give away all of the secrets, but the list of what I learned is long. I also learned I enjoy a stirred cocktail better than one that is shaken, probably because I was using the wrong spoon and method for stirring. The bartenders take turns showing you how to make a stirred cocktail, then letting you make one yourself. They do the same with shaken cocktails so you get a chance to learn to make a variety of drinks with a variety of liquors during the class. And yes, you get to drink what you make.

The mixers aren't the typical over-processed syrups you may find at your grocery store. They offer a variety of handmade mixers, high-quality ingredients and, of course, the liquor is high-end and as local as possible.

Along with learning the art of cocktail making, you get a history lesson in how certain cocktails were created, how they used to be made and the origins of the ingredients used. Ever wonder where the term blind drunk comes from? It's all a part of the American Prohibition history lesson you get with the class.

Proper garnishing techniques are also taught and, after a few cocktails, you find the volume in the room gets louder and friends are made quickly. So if you decide to go to the class solo like I did, you'll still have a good time.

I quickly made friends with the couple next to me, Shari Cole and Dave Harding from Tampa. They were in town for the week on vacation and found out about the class. They said they were looking for unique places to visit. "We have had the best time in Savannah," Cole said. "This is the best way to end our trip."

And the class ends with a round of cheers and glasses clinking. You're welcome to stay and continue the party or you can head on out and find dinner. New friends joined by good spirits and a lovely atmosphere makes for an evening that is truly Savannah.