Hotel bars specializing in one type of liquor have seen strong social media buzz, higher local-patron footfall and higher profits.
The increase in interest in artisanal, top-end liquor—for example, single-malt whiskeys, premium gins and small-batch rums—has not been lost on hoteliers. Some operators have decided to forego many bottles of different liquors, cordials and mixers and instead specialize in one particular drink and market events, tastings, pairings and other initiatives to help boost social media buzz and revenue, reported Hotel News Now.
Hotel News Now spoke to three hoteliers asking why they decided to go “solo” with types of liquor.
Jeremy Hopkins, GM of London’s independent Athenæum Hotel, claims his hotel’s Whisky Bar, which has more than 300 “expressions,” has London’s largest selection of single malts and blended whiskeys. An on-site whiskey sommelier helps guests with recommendations and food pairings, Hotel News Now reported.
“Since we became privately owned in 1992, we have had an interest in whiskey, and five years ago decided to change to a whiskey bar destination,” Hopkins said. “Our whiskey bar has both guest and non-guest patronage. Non-guest involvement is marketed through word of mouth and recommendation, primarily as it remains one of the biggest hotel collections in London. We wanted to create something iconic, which was representative of the hotel and our guests, and the (signature) blend has been a big success.”
Hopkins said the whiskey bar worked closely with the hotel’s restaurant, notably in events focused on whiskey and cheese pairings and five-course paired menus, Hotel News Now reported.
Barbara Ricci, GM of her family-owned Hotel Adriano in Rome, started a gin bar, The Gin Corner, at the property two years ago because of her passion for the drink, Hotel News Now reported.
“When we opened the bar, gin was not really known in Italy. There was no interest, but it became a big success after only a few months,” Ricci said. She maintains it is the only gin bar in the country. “Locals in Rome have now come to appreciate the bar very much, and we also now host gin parties.”
When the bar opened, it had 60 different gins. Today, that number is 95. For Ricci, a good bar won’t push any particular label of gin on guests, Hotel News Now reported.
“We divide gin in classic, premium, super-premium and ultra-premium (categories) so that our guests can choose their preference, because our bartender can give information about each type of gin without suggesting one in particular,” Ricci said.
The bar Proof at the InterContinental Toronto Yorkville specializes in vodka with 65 different types for sale. Frank Guerreiro, food and beverage manager at the hotel, said the idea first came to light six years ago. The bar was the first of its kind in Canada’s largest city, Hotel News Now reported.
“Of course we cater to our hotel guests first, though the percentage of patrons seems now to be higher on the transient side. We get a lot of foot traffic, as well as large parties and events, Guerreiro said
For all three hoteliers, the business decision of focusing on one liquor came from a desire to be pioneers, Hotel News Now reported.
“Most important is to be ahead of trends and not follow them,” Guerreiro said. “I have empowered our bar team, and they have become our ambassadors for our brand. The team that has been brought in treats it as though it’s their own bar,” he added, an approach mirrored in the bar’s standalone website.