Attention is nothing new for The Peninsula Beverly Hills. The Santa Monica Boulevard property is a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star institution. Its newly renovated spa is a Four-Star delight. The sublime Belvedere is a Four-Star foodie paradise. Its rooftop pool may not have an official award designation, but it’s such a tranquil urban escape that world-famous designers and top actresses reserve cabanas for midday meetings.
So, when the sophisticated Club Bar was recently named to Forbes Travel Guide’s list of the World’s Best Hotel Bars, the news wasn’t so much a surprise as it was further proof that The Peninsula Beverly Hills is a complete experience.
Rebecca Goldberg won’t take all of the credit for the latest honor, but as the hotel’s director of food and beverage, she plays a huge role in how the property has created such a vibrant cocktail destination. In the following interview with Forbes Travel Guide, Goldberg talks about The Club Bar’s ambiance, the season’s new pours and the future of L.A.’s bar scene.
How does it feel to be a part of Forbes Travel Guide’s World’s Best Hotel Bars list?
It’s pretty amazing being a part of a bar within a hotel. It means you get travelers from all over the world. It’s really a wonderful thing to have the world come to you and you not have to leave your bar, which is great.
Memorable experiences can be found all over Los Angeles. What makes an evening at The Club Bar so unique?
The first thing is that it’s incredibly comfortable. It’s not super bright like the rest of the world outside is. It definitely creates a mood. I think the team in The Club Bar, from the cocktail servers to the bartenders to the manager, they really treat the space as if it’s their own. They come to work and fluff the pillows. They rearrange the tables. They look at who’s coming in. They set everything up to create this vibe for the guest. And they do this perfectly.
The team in there is probably the strongest in the hotel. They know everyone. They know who’s going to like each other. They know who they should introduce. They really know how to create an evening for people.
Beyond creating a great atmosphere with fluffed pillows and soft lighting, you need good drinks. What are a few items on the cocktail menu that you would suggest people try?
I think the barrel-aged cocktails are really excellent. We take classics like a Negroni or a Manhattan and barrel-age them so they’re really smooth and clean cocktails. It’s a process that’s handled by our bar manager [Reggie Maharaj]. Thankfully, I get to benefit from that process because I can taste the cocktails from time to time and make sure they’re the right age. But I think that’s definitely a signature of the space.
We have seasonal things as well. Cocktails that are more inspired by our guests, [too]. We have an Italian spritz that’s excellent. It’s a good way to start the night or end the night — which is typically what people do at The Club Bar for sure. It’s either the beginning or the ending of your night.
You hinted at seasonal offerings. What are you especially excited about in the coming months?
We have a boozy pumpkin spice latte. The world is crazy for those things so we thought, “Why not make it better and add some alcohol to it?”
We’ll have a spiked hot chocolate cart. It’ll actually be in [The Belvedere] but it’ll also move through The Club Bar as well. Reggie is also working on a spiked apple cider cocktail, which is really great. Both will start about mid-November.
How would you define L.A.’s current cocktail scene?
I think it’s starting to catch on. For me, the cocktail scene starts in New York and moves its way over. I see that [L.A.] is starting to take on the trends from there. Aperol spritz was a big thing in New York a couple of years ago and now I see it making its way over here.
Barrel-aging and bottle-aging is becoming more of a thing here as well. The appearances of cocktail bars, where you really perfect the craft [of making drinks] is definitely popping up throughout the city.
Sadly, another trend that continues is the lack of women as head mixologists. What has to change in the industry to fix this in the near future?
That’s an interesting question. Well, I don’t know if it’s the industry not giving women a chance. That would be unfair to say. It might just be an industry where women don’t gravitate towards for whatever reason. I think, maybe, increasing the awareness of the process of making cocktails [will help].
In so many ways, it’s the same as certain things can be considered feminine, like making perfume. But it’s all creating, and I think that should be for men or women or anyone. It might just be a perception.