4 Hotel Bars Stepping Up the Game (East Coast Edition)

The Punch Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte  | Foodable WebTV Network

The Punch Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte | Foodable WebTV Network

This is Part 1 in a two-part series. Read Part 2 here.

With expectations of bad food and even worse cocktails, it’s good to know that hotel bars are stepping up their game. 

Hotel bars have seen the benefit of improving their biggest commodities and have started offering unique cocktails. Historically, guests of hotels used the lobby bar for a quick drink before a night out or a place to hold a meeting, but never a final destination or night out. On the flip side, hotel bars were never a destination for locals to drink. Why would they go to a hotel bar when they could go to a fun and trendy place in the neighborhood? 

Hospitality professionals have recognized this and have started revitalizing their hotel bar’s aesthetic, as well as the bar program and atmosphere. They not only want hotel guests but also locals to make a point to come in and try an amazing cocktail. This is perfect for hotel guests because they never have to leave the hotel to enjoy an inventive libation and, moreover, it is offering the local clientele an experience that matches or even beats the cocktail at their favorite non-hotel bar. 

Bob Peters at The Punch Room  | Foodable WebTV Network

Bob Peters at The Punch Room | Foodable WebTV Network

The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte Featuring The Punch Room

The newly opened The Punch Room in the Ritz-Carlton is located in the Uptown neighborhood of Charlotte. The Punch Room is reflective of an upscale speakeasy with leather couches and wingback chairs lining the main room. The Punch Room is located on the hotel’s 15th floor and features a punch of the day that is served to every patron. The venue gains its exclusivity with only 37 seats total. Bob Peters, the head mixologist, fills this venue with so much southern hospitality it feels more like an intimate cocktail party than a pretentious bar. This venue sets itself apart by using unique ingredients that pack a flavor punch, including miso, grilled juices, St. Germain foam, and vanilla infused Fernet Branca. The Punch Room is further excelling and raising hotel bar standards by utilizing a rooftop garden, upgrading cocktails with molecular techniques, featuring local spirits, and offering guests a unique punch service. 

Recommended Cocktail: Miso Daiquiri
Queen Charlotte Rum, Luxardo, Grilled Grapefruit Juice, Muddled Lime, and Mint Miso Simple Syrup

The Freehand Miami Featuring The Broken Shaker

The Broken Shaker is not only a James Beard Award Semi-Finalist bar, it’s also the 2014 “Best Hotel Bar” winner from Tales of the Cocktail. This hotel bar specializes in cocktails made with fresh ingredients including herbs, elixirs, and syrups. The Broken Shaker, which opened a Chicago outpost this year, boasts a menu with creative and innovative cocktails that feature ingredients like black tahini, dried stone fruit, cantaloupe foam, and matcha green tea. In addition to cocktails, the venue offers a daily, customized punch for $150 where guests choose their spirit, fruit, and botanical. The customized punch serves 6-12 guests. This hotel bar steps it up by using very unique ingredients that captures the curiosity of hotel guests and locals alike. 

Recommended Cocktail: Matcha Caipirinha
Matcha Green Tea infused with Leblon Cachaça with House Lime and Green Tea Cordial

Gourmet burgers & drinks at Hudson Common  | Credit: Instagram, @alineportapila

Gourmet burgers & drinks at Hudson Common | Credit: Instagram, @alineportapila

The Hudson, New York City Featuring Hudson Common

Hudson Common is a burger joint located in the Hudson Hotel in New York City. Forget going to a diner or chain restaurant for a burger and soda; this hotel bar and restaurant sets itself apart from the typical hotel bar by offering gourmet burgers with boozy soda fountain cocktails. Hudson Common offers five flavors of spiked sodas including Vanilla Cream Soda, Cherry Coke, Italian Soda, French Soda, and Irish Soda. Pair one of these boozy delights with a Common Burger and Thrice Fried Duck Fat Fries and you have yourself an over-the-top epicurean dinner from a hotel bar. 

Recommended Cocktail: Cherry Coke
Cherry Grand Marnier, Bulleit Bourbon, and Boylan Pure Cane Cola

The Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston Featuring OAK Long Bar + Kitchen

Classic and contemporary describes this historic venue that offers more than the basics or classic cocktails. OAK Long Bar + Kitchen features farm-to-table ingredients and seasonal craft cocktails. Seasonal fall ingredients in the cocktails include pear, cranberry, apple, and citrus fruits. This hotel bar is unique because they offer five seasonal sangrias as well as a list of creative seasonal cocktails. The sangrias include the Rouge, the Poire Glace, the Sparkler, and the Red Room. This is the perfect place to have a dessert like the Boston Whoopie Cream Pie (pastry cream, ganache, vanilla gelato) paired with a Busy Bee cocktail that uses house-infused citrus gin, honey, and rosemary.

Recommended Cocktail: Delfino
Don Julio Blanco Tequila, Blood Orange, and Sage

Recommended Sangria: Poire Glace
White Wine, Pear, and Ginger 

Hotel bars are taking cocktails to the next level by using seasonal and distinctive ingredients, offering punch service, providing fun experiences, and using innovative techniques to entice guests and locals alike. Which hotel bars in your city are raising the bar?