Special Events
Great Hotel Cocktails for Special Events

Great Hotel Cocktails for Special Events

Whether served up, on the rocks or with a twist, cocktails have always invited innovation. Three hotel beverage specialists share bar trends from the fresh and fruity to the divinely decadent.

FAIRMONT THE QUEEN ELIZABETH, MONTREAL, QUEBEC

BACK TO BASICS

Old is new again, according to head bartender David Pacheco. “People are asking for cocktails that were popular 20 to 30 years ago,” he says. However, the use of updated ingredients — such as fresh herbs, freshly squeezed juices and premium brands — caters to more sophisticated palates. “Our ‘Perfect Manhattan’ features [super-premium] Gentleman Jack instead of traditional Canadian whisky,” he says. “And we do a ‘Golden Mojito’ with Mount Gay Rum, fresh lime juice, brown sugar, fresh mint leaves and ginger ale over crushed ice.”

LOCAL LIQUORS

“People always want to try local products when they come to Canada,” Pacheco says. “We serve a lot of iced cider as well as cider and maple liqueurs, which are especially popular at harvest time or around the holidays.”

HARRAH'S ENTERTAINMENT: HARRAH'S LAS VEGAS/CAESARS PALACE, LAS VEGAS

DESSERT SERVED UP

“One of my favorite newer concepts has been the marriage of dessert and cocktails,” says director of catering sales Michele Polci, CPCE, CMP, which she believes is a union born of necessity. “Planners are faced with fitting more content into less time. They need to offer their attendees the full experience of meetings, speakers, entertainment, and great food and beverage. Dessert is one component of a meal that can easily be incorporated into another event element.” Caesars recently created its signature “Lemon Meringue Cocktail” (see sidebar page 45), which illustrates this trend.

FRESH AND FRUITY

“From a consumer standpoint, we are all more mindful of organic products and choosing locally grown fruits and vegetables in our daily lives, and cocktails have followed suit,” Polci says. “Fruits and vegetables are no longer just the garnish; they are the body of the drink.” Indeed, the use of fresh apples, pears, figs, berries, stone fruits, grapes and peppers, as well as fresh herbs such as basil, mint and thyme, has become the foundation of some of the most unique and popular cocktails at the Harrah's properties.

Organic raw sugar is another must-have ingredient, Polci reports. “It has a natural sweetness and accents the spirit component of the beverage beautifully,” she says. Flavored vodkas — with muddled berries or a splash of citrus, and topped off with soda or fresh fruit juice — have remained hot as well.

THE VENETIAN RESORT HOTEL & CASINO, LAS VEGAS

TO YOUR HEALTH

Late nights and lazy mornings have Las Vegas patrons looking for a beneficial boost in their booze, reports banquet beverage manager J.D. Kollar. “I have seen a big trend toward healthy cocktails,” he says, noting that acai berries, lychee, green tea and ginseng are among the most popular additions, used either as mixers or essences for vodkas and rums.

COCKTAILS WITH CHARACTER

It goes without saying that the theme capital of the world would offer creative cocktails to complement various shows on the Strip. The Venetian did just that for its run of “Jersey Boys.” Kollar and his team created a clever cocktail menu featuring drinks with names riffing on Four Seasons' songs such as “Big Girls Don't Chai” — an espresso, chai and vodka martini made with chai liqueur, Absolut Vanilla Vodka, coffee cordial and Triple Sec. A perennial poolside favorite is the “Tahitian Treat,” which blends Bacardi Limon, Amaretto, cranberry juice and Sprite on the rocks. “This refreshing cocktail is perfect for events at the Palazzo pool,” Kollar says.

SIGNATURE SIPS

Every bartender worth his margarita salt has a signature drink. Three mixologists (and one pastry chef) share their favorites:

“SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY,” J.D. Kollar, The Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino

Originally created to accompany summer barbecue buffet menus, this drink has become a year-round favorite among guests of The Venetian and Palazzo properties.

2 oz. Seagrams Sweet Tea Vodka

6 oz. fresh lemon sour

1-2 oz. club soda

Mix all in a shaker with ice and pour into a Mason jar. Serve with a fresh lemon wheel.

“YOKO FRESH,” David Pacheco, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth

Created in honor of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's famous “bed-in” at the hotel in 1969, this cocktail cools the palate with the refreshing essence of cucumber.

3 cucumber slices

1 1/2 oz. vodka

1/2 oz. sake

3/4 oz. lime juice

3/4 oz. sugar syrup

Crush cucumber slices with a muddler in shaker. Add all other ingredients and shake with ice. Shake and pour into a martini glass; garnish with a slice of cucumber.

“LEMON MERINGUE COCKTAIL,” Eddie Perales, beverage specialist, and Randy Sebastian, executive pastry chef, Caesars Palace

This ultimate dessert cocktail, created to kick off a weekly event at the property, features homemade Meyer limoncello, which took the food and beverage team 11 days to create.

Core one whole large lemon; cut both ends off. Baste outside of the lemon with honey and sprinkle with sugar candy. Place the lemon into the chosen serving glass. Baste the inside of the glass with honey. To the pulp of the lemon add:

1 tsp. orange marmalade

A pinch of toasted vanilla bean

1 oz. fresh lemon sour 1 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice

2 fresh mint leaves

Muddle all ingredients together, then add:

1 1/2 oz. aged tequila

1/2 oz. citrus liquor

1 oz. limoncello

Shake together over ice and double-strain into frozen lemon and serving vessel. Then add meringue and toast with torch in front of guests. Serve with a small spoon or straw.

RESOURCES

FAIRMONT THE QUEEN ELIZABETH
www.fairmont.com

HARRAH'S ENTERTAINMENT, LAS VEGAS
www.harrahs.com

THE VENETIAN RESORT HOTEL & CASINO
www.venetian.com

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