Craft cocktails, specialty glassware and seasonal garnishes are helping these two properties further distinguish their drink menus—and themselves.
Clubs and resorts are reviving their bar scenes by introducing craft cocktails and signature drinks that go well beyond a classic martini or a Bloody Mary. House-made mixers, cut-to-order fruit garnishes and specialty concoctions created by professional mixologists are fair game for properties embracing the artisanal cocktail movement.
The New-Fashioned Old-Fashioned
Having arrived at Indian Wells (Calif.) Golf Resort’s IW Club only a few short months ago, Lead Bartender Javier Santana (pictured above) was handpicked by Scott Winant, Director of Food and Beverage, to help reinvent the club’s cocktail menu, one drink at a time.
“I’m really passionate about craft cocktails and creating drinks for guests who appreciate the taste of alcohol and a well-balanced drink,” says Santana, who has more than a decade of experience in the bar business.
Before Santana, the bar scene at the IW Club lacked an identity. Drinks were serviceable, but forgettable. Now, thanks to his passion for the craft, the club has become a cocktail destination not only in Indian Wells, but for residents and visitors throughout the Coachella Valley.
“We’ve slowly elevated the quality and variety of our drinks,” says Santana, who believes that fresh ingredients, as well as proper glassware, play a critical role. “We use fresh lime and lemon juices. We cut all of our garnishes to order. We hand-carve ice. We’ve even started making some of our own infusions and mixes.”
The result of his efforts is a menu of cocktails—priced between $8 and $10—that is drawing in more bar business for the property.
“We still have plenty of guests who only want a gin-and-tonic,” says Santana. “And it’s important to our business to have those simple, straightforward drinks. But now we have something for guests looking for a more interesting cocktail experience, too.”
The club’s specialty drinks menu is divided into two sections, “Classics Reinvented” and “Craft House Specialties.” Among the latter, these are two of the most popular:
- Pisqu: a mix of Pisco Portón (a white spirit from Peru used to make cocktails like the pisco sour, margarita and martini), Chartreuse (an herbal liquor), Serrano chile and fresh raspberries. The drink is poured over a hand-cut ice cube and served in a double old-fashioned glass.
- Cynar Sour: a mix of Cynar (a bitter artichoke liqueur), an emulsified egg white, agave nectar or honey, cherry liqueur and fresh lemon juice, served in a snifter.
The “Classics” side of the IW Club’s drink menu features more familiar favorites, such as the Moscow Mule, made with a housemade ginger beer, as well as a Rye Manhattan made with a Prohibition-era rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters.
“We take time with our cocktails,” says Santana, whose passion is rubbing off on the club’s bar staff, too. “We are in the process of upgrading our glassware and our ice options, so we can elevate our cocktails even further.”
In March, when Quail Lodge & Golf Club, Carmel Valley, Calif., unveiled a $28 million renovation after a three-year closure, Tim Eldridge, Club Manager, and Craig Barkdull, Marketing Manager, sought out a mixologist to help create two signature cocktails that would not only commemorate the occasion, but also bring further distinction to the property.
“We hosted a huge grand opening party with over 1,000 people in attendance,” says Eldridge. “We had live entertainment, food stations, passed hors d’oeuvres, and even a farmer’s market. We thought that we could really top off the event by offering a few signature drinks that we could use on our bar menu, too.”
Through its liquor distributor, the club was able to bring in a mixologist who created two cocktails that were tailor-made for the property:
- Carmel Valley Breeze: a mix of vodka, tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, mint and cucumber.
- Ruffled Quail: a mix of tequila, Aperol (an Italian aperitif), grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup and water.
“These drinks are unique, but still approachable, which makes them perfect for Edgar’s, our upscale casual restaurant, in the clubhouse,” says Barkdull.
Both the Carmel Valley Breeze and the Ruffled Quail are now signature to Quail Lodge along with “The Imperial,” which is made with finely diced cucumber, gin, lime juice and champagne.
“Signature drinks should align with your brand,” says Eldridge, who notes that two of the three signature drinks also share the property’s signature colors of green and orange. “We approached these cocktails much like how our chef approaches his menus—with a focus on quality, fresh ingredients and well-balanced flavors.”