Small-scale wines and barrels aren't just for artisanal distillers anymore -- more and more large hotel chains are jumping on the small-batch trend, collaborating with local vineyards and spirit makers to offer exclusive pours. On your next business trip or family vacay, an in-hotel meal might not be such a boring thing, especially if it's washed down with one of these signature drinks.
1. Bourbon from Maker’s Mark Distillery and Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa
If you’re looking for an “authentic” sip of an esteemed barrel-aged spirit, look no further than the hotel bar at the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa in Lexington, Kentucky. Marriott partnered with whiskey behemoth Maker’s Mark to create custom aged bourbon in their own baked American oak staves, some infused with French mocha, others with French spice. The result is a surprisingly exclusive pour that few would expect from two large-scale brands.
2. Tequila from the Chicago Hilton
Tequila probably doesn’t spring to mind when you think of Chicago, but if you’re looking for a decent drink downtown, we’d be remiss not to recommend this option. Hilton’s agave-based spirit is hand-selected in Mexico by their food and beverage team, and then fermented and distilled for almost a year in oak charred barrels. The finish is quite possibly one of the smoothest you’ve experienced, with hardly any burn.
3. Rum from Key West's Casa Marina Waldorf Astoria resort
In (legal) homage to the history of rum smuggling, which once ran rampant in the Florida Keys, Casa Marina in Key West carries the rare Pyrat Cask 1623. The regionally exclusive rum, bottled in Anguilla, is a highlight of the Florida rum trail. And while the hotel doesn’t actually collaborate in its preparation, it is the only place in town where you can find it, so we feel it deserves a place on this list. If you’re still feeling thirsty after your first pour, you’ll have no shortage of selections from the hotel bar, which boasts the most expensive collection of rum in Key West. (Close the tab on this one.)
4. Pinot Noir from Tarrica Vineyards via Hilton West Palm Beach
In a hotel that might otherwise be thought of as a businesswoman’s layover, the Hilton West Palm Beach is probably the most surprising, and welcome, addition to this list. The Pinot Noir from Tarrica Vineyards is an exclusive blend, made from grapes that the Hilton team hand-selected from the vineyard's sixteen varieties. The result is an utterly smooth red wine that you can’t believe a hotel bar made. Also not to be missed are the local jalapeño-infused cocktails, and some of the most knowledgeable and welcoming mixologists around.
5. Vodka from Philadelphia Distilling and AKA
How about a custom vodka to go with that luxe hotel suite? That’s more or less the idea behind a.vod, an artisanal vodka crafted for AKA’s hotels in Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, D.C., and London. The hotel, in partnership with Philadelphia Distilling, selected four grains and they distill their vodka in a continuous column -- the only distillery in the U.S. to do so. Even if you’re not a vodka aficionado, we’re wagering that you’ll enjoy your drink just as much, all the same.