Top 15 Hotel Welcome Drinks from Around the Country
Some say it takes a week to transition into vacation mode. That time lessens to, say, four or five minutes when you’re handed a welcome drink at the check-in desk. Caribbean resorts have been serving rum punch in the lobby for decades, but more hotels are following suit, pouring signature cocktails, bubbly or beer as a welcome amenity. It signals to guests that vacation is here—and it’s going to be a good one.
The Welcome Drink: California Pinot Noir
Guests are greeted with a glass of the family’s 2012 Lost and Found Pinot Noir. The grapes come from co-owner Catherine Bartolomei’s nearby Sonoma property, where the family has grown vines for five generations. “It’s a really yummy wine done in a leaner, more Burgundian style,” says Catherine’s brother, co-owner Joe Bartolomei. Newly arrived guests take in the view of the gorgeous grounds, including the pristine pool and spa, both part of a recent $8 million renovation.
The Welcome Drink: Coronitas
This cool Kimpton hotel near the University of California at Santa Barbara is full of Mexican-inspired touches. At check-in there are Coronitas—7-ounce Coronas—as well as small bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola (which uses sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup). In the late afternoon, a social hour in the lobby offers generous pours of spiked agua frescas (past flavors include plum and lemon Thai basil). And every Tuesday evening, there’s a fiesta in “Rita,” the hotel’s Airstream, which is stocked with margaritas, sangria, chips and salsa.
The Welcome Drink: Aged Manhattans
Guests who book a private residence here find a small oak barrel filled with local Breckenridge Distillery Bourbon, aged for 42 days with two kinds of sweet vermouth (Contratto Rosso and Carpano Antica) and three kinds of bitters (Angostura, Fee’s Bourbon Barrel and Regan’s Orange). Alongside the Bourbon are glasses garnished with housemade cherry preserves. Fans of the Colorado Bourbon can also enjoy it at The Remedy, the resort’s new pre-Prohibition-style bar, and at the spa’s new barbershop.
The Welcome Drink: Spiced rum punch with coconut
To get to Little Palm Island, guests catch a boat from Little Torch Key. While waiting on the dock at the thatched-roof Welcome Station, they sip a cocktail similar to rum punch called the Gumby Slumber. One of the island’s first bartenders created this signature drink in the late 1980s, using spiced rum, citrus and cranberry juices, and shredded coconut marinated in 151-proof rum. Nearly 30 years later, the bartender’s name may have been forgotten, but the name he gave the cocktail lives on. He said that when you drink it, your body relaxes into a Gumby-like state, and you want to slumber in a hammock all afternoon.
The Welcome Drink: Georgia beer or California wine
One of the property’s so-called “Andaz Hosts” invite guests into the property’s living room overlooking Ellis Square, and offers an enticing choice. They could sip a Canyon Road wine (2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 Merlot, 2013 Chardonnay or 2014 Pinot Grigio), or a Pale Ale or IPA (in a can) from locally beloved Service Brewing Co., owned and operated by an Army vet. Guests can take leftovers in a to-go cup and tour the town—that’s legal in Savannah!
The Welcome Drink: Super-fresh Mai Tai
As they check in, guests of this year-old Relais & Châteaux property (a k a heaven) can choose water infused with either locally grown mint or hibiscus. By the palm tree-lined pool, mixologist Kerry Meekel serves a complimentary “Mye Tye.” Instead of pineapple from concentrate, orgeat syrup and triple sec, Meekel’s less-sweet take on the Mai Tai uses fresh-pressed Maui pineapple juice and Amaretto.
Make this at Home: Mye Tye
½ ounce light rum
½ ounce Amaretto
½ ounce fresh lime juice
2 ounces fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 ounces fresh-pressed Maui pineapple juice
2 ounces Lahaina dark rum
Mint sprigs, for garnish
Slices of lime, for garnish
Pineapple spear, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the light rum, Amaretto and fruit juices. Shake well, then pour into a glass. Float the dark rum on top. Garnish with the mint, lime and pineapple spear.
The Welcome Drink: Lavender-honey Margarita
Smack-dab between Albuquerque and Santa Fe is this lovely Pueblo-style hotel, surrounded by the gorgeous Sandia Mountains. The signature Margarita de Miel is made with lavender-infused honey. Both the honey and the lavender are sourced on the property. Guests can sip the drink while touring the property, which recently renovated its resort spa and café.
Make this at Home: Margarita de Miel
2 ounces lavender-honey simple syrup (recipe below)
3 ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice
1¼ ounces silver Tequila
¼ ounce lime syrup (recipe below)
Slice of lime
Kosher salt, for garnish
Lime twist, for garnish
Lavender petals, for garnish
Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients except the garnishes, and shake well. Rub rim of glass with a sliced lime and dip in kosher salt. Fill glass half way with ice. Pour margarita into the glass. Garnish with lime twist and lavender.
Lavender honey simple syrup:
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lavender petals
1 cup honey
½ cup sugar
Bring water and lavender to a boil in a saucepan. Add sugar and honey. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool. Strain and refrigerate.
Lime simple syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Zest of 4 limes
Combine sugar, water and lime zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Strain and refrigerate. Keeps for up to two months.
The Welcome Drink: Huckleberry-lime Punch
When Paws Up debuted 10 years ago, “glamping” wasn’t yet a trend—or even a word. Having since spawned dozens of imitators, this remains the ideal luxury camping experience. Guests know they are in for a memorable experience when they receive a glass of Huckleberry Hound at check-in, made with Local 44 North Huckleberry Vodka. Then they are led to the patio that overlooks the stunning Mission Mountains and the 37,000-acre property.
Make it at Home: Huckleberry Hound
1 750-ml bottle of 44 North Huckleberry Vodka
1 12-ounce can concentrated limeade
16 ounces huckleberry syrup (available online), or substitute with blueberry syrup
6 cups water
Lime slices, for garnish
Huckleberries, raspberries or blackberries, for garnish
Combine vodka, limeade and huckleberry syrup into a large pitcher and stir well. Add water (you could use four refills of the empty limeade can). Add ice and stir. Garnish with lime slices and seasonal berries.
The Welcome Drink: New Hampshire beer
As you might expect, the Ale House Inn caters to beer lovers. It’s housed in a beautiful brick building that once stored thousands of kegs for the Portsmouth Brewing Company, which closed in 1917. Guests choose from four varieties of local Smuttynose Brewing Co. beer: Finest Kind IPA, The Shoals Pale Ale, Old Brown Dog Brown Ale or the seasonal Hayseed Summer Ale. Ask ahead and you can have a six-pack waiting in your suite’s fridge. Also in your suite are beer reference books like 1,001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die. (One down, 1,000 to go.)
The Welcome Drink: A cocktail themed to your suite.
The 42 brand-new suites here are themed—Sunrise, Dusk or Nights—and designed to evoke the feeling of a gallery space, showcasing original works by emerging NYC artists. At check-in, guests receive a mystery ingredient and an invitation to the hotel bar, where the ingredient will show up in a special cocktail. Guests of the Central Park View Suite “Sunrise” receive blood-orange sugar cubes, which appear slowly dissolving into a Champagne cocktail at the bar. “Dusk” guests are treated to a view of the Hudson River and a jar of pickled cherries, which leads to a rye whiskey Manhattan. Waiting in the ultra-luxe “Nights” suites are bottles of housemade ginger-honey syrup that appears in a cocktail that features Glenfiddich 12-year-old and lemon juice.
Make it at Home: Nights Cocktail
2 ounces Glenfiddich 12-Year Scotch
¾ ounce lemon juice
1 ounce honey-ginger syrup (recipe below)
Pour whisky, lemon juice and honey-ginger syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, stir and strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with candied ginger.
Honey Ginger Syrup
8 ounces ginger, peeled and sliced
1 cup honey
6 cups water
Bring the water and ginger to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes; remove from heat and strain. Pour 2 cups of liquid back into the pot, add honey and heat on low, stirring, until incorporated. Remove from heat, cool, and store in a mason jar. Keeps in the refrigerator for 2 months.
The Welcome Drink: Loire Valley Sparkling Wine
Upon arrival at this pristine Adirondacks resort (completely rebuilt in 2008 following a fire), guests are seated in leather armchairs by the fireplace. A bottle of Bouvet Signature Brut, a sparkling wine from the Loire Valley, will arrive on a silver platter. A staff member will pour it into flutes and add a splash of agave nectar. Guests can finish the bottle while sitting on one of the many cherry-red Adirondack chairs that dot the property, overlooking gorgeous Lake Placid.
The Welcome Drink: Spanish or Virginia sparkling wine
This two-year-old hotel is one of the most stylish places to stay in Charleston. Ray Berrouet, the general manager, greets guests by pouring glasses of sparkling wine in the beautiful circa-1804 carriage house kitchen. (When in stock, they serve Pippin Hill’s Blanc de Blanc. Right now, it’s Arte Latino Cava.) Flute in hand, Berrouet leads guests on a tour of the property and the restaurant, Zero Café, where chef Vinson Petrillo recently launched a Chef’s Tasting Menu, featuring seven courses for $105.
Photo courtesy Zero George
The Welcome Drink: Pink Sangria
If you’re looking for a cool Austin experience, stay in one of Liz Lambert’s hotels, either the iconic Hotel San Jose, or the newer, more upscale Hotel Saint Cecilia. This summer, guests in suites 1, 4 and 5 the 14-room estate are greeted with a glass of “Soul Sangria,” made with Domaine de Fontsainte rosé and Lillet-soaked local berries. Drink it while lounging underneath chandeliers by the best pool in town.
Make it at Home: Soul Sangria
2 cups strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
4 ounces Lillet Rosé
1 bottle dry rosé, like Domaine de Fontsainte
4–5 lemon wedges, sliced thin and halved
Soak fruit in Lillet rosé for about 1 hour. Add dry rosé and lemon. Refrigerate overnight. Pour over ice and serve.
The Welcome Drink: Rye-lime Cocktail
Capella personal assistants (in other words, butlers) greet guests at this handsome new Georgetown boutique hotel, showing them to a seat near the oversized onyx fireplace and a giant painting by expressionist Edvins Strautmanis. Before going over the weekend itinerary, the assistant pours glasses of head bartender Angel Cervantes’s signature sweet-sour Rye Bar Limeade.
Make it at Home: Rye Bar Limeade
1½ ounces James E. Pepper Rye Whiskey
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce lavender simple syrup (recipe below)
Splash of soda
¼ ounce Campari
Lime twist, for garnish
In a tumbler filled with ice, add whiskey, lime juice, syrup, soda and Campari. Stir 3 times. Pour into a glass, and garnish with lime twist.
Lavender Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons dried lavender
Bring sugar and water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add lavender and let sit overnight. Will keep for up to two months.
The Welcome Drink: Rum Punch
The Buccaneer is one of those low-profile places that doesn’t advertise much, but it does brisk business, with a loyal fan base returning year after year. Founded in the 1700s, the hotel has been family-run for generations. Down the road is the Cruzan Rum distillery, family-run since the early 1800s. Naturally, the welcome drink is a rum punch made with Cruzan Rum. Guests drink it in the resort’s Great House, overlooking the golf course, harbor and the crystal-blue Caribbean Sea.
Make it at Home: Buccaneer Rum Punch
2 ounces Light Cruzan Rum
1 ounce fruit juice (ideally a mix of pineapple, guava, orange, mango and grape)
Nutmeg, for garnish
Mix rum with juices. Serve over ice, and garnish with shaved nutmeg.
- 1Farmhouse Inn, Sonoma, CA
- 2The Goodland, Goleta, CA
- 3Four Seasons Resort & Residences, Vail, CO
- 4Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Palm Island, FL
- 5Andaz Savannah, Savannah, GA
- 6Hotel Wailea, Maui, HI
- 7Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, Santa Ana Pueblo, NM
- 8The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, MT
- 9Ale House Inn, Portsmouth, NH
- 10Mandarin Oriental, New York City
- 11Lake Placid Lodge, Lake Placid, NY
- 12Zero George, Charleston, SC
- 13Hotel Saint Cecilia, Austin, TX
- 14Capella, Washington DC
- 15The Buccaneer, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands