Scott Beattie, Meadowood Napa Valley’s beverage director for estate events, talks about ice with the same sharpness and enthusiasm as Teju Cole does with travel photography or Jon Gruden with football. With the energy Beattie demonstrates, you can sense that the look of a cocktail, not just its taste, is vital to the experience.
When prompted, Beattie waxes poetic about Meadowood’s intricate process of freezing and chiseling ice to create geometric wonders that keep drinks at the perfect temperature. As you’ll read below, his Bali-Spiced Old Fashioned is all the more comfortable right now because of it.
But Meadowood’s lovely potion isn’t the only drink to catch our attention this season. Be it a tasty twist on another classic in London or an all-out potable production in Scottsdale, Arizona, restaurants and bars around the globe continue turning libation preparation into pure art (especially Old Fashioneds). And for that reason, our Forbes Travel Guide editors would like to propose a toast to the spots that use ice spheres, freshly plucked herbs and even a bit of nitrogen to bring their works of art to life.
Salamander Resort & Spa’s Jefferson Appletini
On most nights, the two campfires sitting a few hundred feet from Salamander’s Gold Cup bar are good settings for recapping the day’s activities or having your first lesson in s’mores-making. We don’t know if it’s the autumn air in Middleburg, Virginia, or what, but gatherings around the flames with a drink are even better. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star property suggests snuggling up with the Jefferson Appletini, a future fall favorite made from Va. Distillery Co. whiskey, apple pie moonshine, apple-cardamom shrub and local apple cider.
Meadowood’s Bali-Spiced Old Fashioned
Before Beattie has the chance to discuss ice cubes, have him show you his favorite spot on The Grill‘s terrace. Overlooking the Meadowood Golf Course, your place in wine country only gets sweeter once you have a Bali-Spiced Old Fashioned in hand. A wonderful blend of bourbon and Bali-spiced syrup (cinnamon sticks, star anise pods, cloves, syrup) that’s topped with orange zest, the cocktail tastes like autumn in a glass — a glass that’s been filled with a clear, gorgeously constructed sphere of ice, of course.
Montage Palmetto Bluff’s Empire Sour
On September 1, South Carolina’s Montage Palmetto Bluff debuted a $100 million expansion that includes more rooms, more meeting spaces and, thankfully, more places to gather for a good drink. Say “cheers” to the fresh look with the resort’s Empire Sour, a seasonal stunner that incorporates egg whites, Bulleit bourbon and red zinfandel. The latter is aged in oak, which ensures that the wine’s taste complements the bourbon perfectly. Complete the experience by pairing the warm drink with a few culinary selections from the new Jessamine restaurant.
The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans’ Crescent City Cooler
When your friends head out for $5 daiquiris on Bourbon Street, we’d advise you to hang back at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans for a more civilized night of drinking and dancing. With regards to the latter, the New Orleans hotel’s headlining musician, Jeremy Davenport, delights Wednesdays through Saturdays. As for what you’ll be sipping during all the toe tapping, the Crescent City Cooler — Absolut, thyme/lavender syrup, Peychauds Aperitivo and crushed ice in a too-cute copper pineapple container — is the beloved summer drink that will secretly still be available this fall.
The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C.’s Smoke Old Fashioned
At this Four-Star D.C. hotel, Quadrant lead mixologist Christopher Mendenhall layers smoky flavors on top of each other. Mendenhall smokes oranges and uses the juices, sugar and brandied cherries to make his smoked syrup. He combines it with handmade cherry bitters and Knob Creek Bourbon and then adds a smoked orange peel and brandy cherry garnish. Even the glassware gets smoky: He ignites a cedar plank and extinguishes the flame by placing the glass over it, allowing the glass to fill with smoke and absorb that taste.
The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician’s 2704′
When Five-Star The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician emerged from a massive renovation in August, it debuted The Canyon Lounge. The new bar focuses on craft cocktails like the 2704’ (the name nods to the elevation of Camelback Mountain, where the Scottsdale hotel resides) with Phoenician Woodford Reserve bourbon, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, rosemary-infused mesquite honey, lemon juice and Fee Brothers’ lemon bitters over a large ice cube. The fun happens after the rosemary sprig and candied lemon wheel garnish: The cocktail sits under a glass cloche and is cold smoked using oak chips. The result is a pronounced but subtle smoky aroma and flavor.
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota’s Shipwreck Honey
Specialty cocktails are one of the reasons to visit Jack Dusty, the restaurant inside this Four-Star hotel. One of the best on the menu is this slightly sweet libation. The secret is that Shipwreck’s namesake ingredient is hyper local — the honey comes from The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota’s own beehives sitting on its 18-hole golf course. The Sarasota honey is mixed with bee pollen, Laird’s Applejack Brandy, chamomile-infused Dolin Blanc Vermouth and Avissi Prosecco for a well-balanced, effervescent tipple.
The Milestone Hotel‘s Smoked Old Fashioned
At this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star London hotel’s Stables Bar, the Old Fashioned gets a makeover. The classic cocktail arrives under a glass dome filled with smoke infused with apple molasses and orange peel. When the dome is lifted, the fragrant smoke hits your nostrils and betrays a hint of what you’ll taste. Though it’s not all flash and no substance: The whiskey is aged at The Milestone Hotel in wooden barrels that have been prepped with neutral spirits and Canadian maple syrup.
Rosewood Washington, D.C.’s Fortified Maple
One of our favorite fall flavors is rich maple — we firmly believe that it should be savored year round. But rather than pouring it on pancakes or waffles, go to the newly opened Washington, D.C. hotel’s Rye Bar for an adult spin on syrup. Rosewood Washington, D.C.’s Fortified Maple uses barrel-aged maple syrup, along with port and rye for a sweet but strong cocktail. Sip it while admiring autumn views from the bar’s floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the canal.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ The Marrakech Express
Las Vegas can take its toll on your body. The Cosmopolitan may not have the remedy for those 3 a.m. runs to the roulette table, but the Four-Star hotel’s The Henry restaurant has a suggestion for patrons looking to have fun without the alcohol — the Marrakech Express mocktail. Because of the colorful mango, kalamansi and passion fruit purees, the drink begs for a social media posting. And since its heaviest ingredients are ginger beer and coconut cream, you can have three of them and not have to pay for the decision with Tylenols in the morning.