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Behind the Hotel Bar

Hotels around the world have been upgrading their cocktail menus for years, but an increasing number are now inviting their guests behind the bar. While wine tastings and cooking lessons are as common as extra-thick mattresses and flat-screen TVs, mixology classes are quickly becoming the new must-have amenity. From small hotels to the big chains, including Marriott, Kimpton and Fairmont, travellers have the opportunity to brush up on their bartending skills when they’re on vacation.

The lessons aren’t for professionals, but they’re often taught by some of the best mixologists in the country. A few weeks ago, the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle, Washington, flew out two top New York City bartenders—Alex Day from the bar Death & Co. and Toby Cecchini, author of Cosmopolitan—to lead a couple of two-hour sessions. (Get a recap at Foodista.) The evening was part of an ongoing program, which has featured an array of cocktail all-stars since it began last August. Each class costs $50 per person and includes drinks, tips, lore and gourmet snacks.


You can get some hands-on-training at six of the Dorchester Collection’s luxury hotels (including the Dorchester in London, the New York Palace and the Beverly Hills Hotel) by signing up for a personal mixology tutorial with a bar manger. (Classes start at $200 per hour.)

Looking for something less intense? Every Friday night the bartenders at the Liberty Hotel in Boston (pictured above) host a free cocktail demonstration during happy hour complete with samples. The best part? You don’t even need to be a guest. Now that’s a hotel perk we hope spreads across the country.

Camelback Inn, Scottsdale, Arizona:

The JW Marriott Resort & Spa runs a successful series of winemaker events for it guests. This winter the property will start offering cocktail classes, which will include a tour of the hotel’s organic herb garden and, of course, a tasting.

Fairmont Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona:

Book the Fairmont’s Desert Icebreaker package and you’ll get a night at the hotel, a 60-minute “Mixology Master Lesson” at the Stone Rose Lounge and a round of signature cocktails. The next morning you’ll get breakfast and, naturally, Bloody Marys.

The Phoenician, Scottsdale, Arizona:

Every Friday night from mid-February through August, the luxury resort offers a complimentary poolside mixology demonstration.

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, Illinois:

Going to be in Chicago this summer? On Friday nights the Fairmont offers a free class on recent bartending trends with mixologist Monika Marcinkiewicz.

Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, Louisiana:

New Orleans is one of the great drinking towns in America. Guests of the Ritz-Carlton can both imbibe and schedule a private mixology lesson with the hotel’s award-winning bartender Daniel Victory.

Boston Marriott, Burlington, Massachusetts:

Looking for dinner and drinks? Once a month the chef of the hotel’s restaurant does a cooking demonstration with a featured seasonal ingredient. The hotel’s bar supervisor then makes cocktails using the same ingredient. Finally, a local master gardener explains how you can grow the ingredient at home. The hour-long lesson costs $20 per person but it’s free if you stay for dinner.

Hotel Monaco, Seattle, Washington:

This Kimpton hotel offers a bartending class once a quarter. Students learn how to make five different martinis, and the class costs $60 per person, which includes a recipe book and a cocktail shaker.

Series & Type: Travel Trends

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