Charlotte Pours: A Mixology Primer
A cold beer or a chilled glass of Chardonnay is easy to come by, but a skillfully-crafted cocktail? That’s an art. Here’s how to explore Charlotte’s mixology universe, whether it’s taking a shaken-or-stirred class, visiting a distillery, or simply ordering a drink from the Asprey trolley at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte.
As one of the country’s fastest growing cities, it’s no surprise that Charlotte, North Carolina’s culinary and cocktail scene has flourished in recent years. Home to a bevy of distilleries, speakeasies and luxe lounges, it’s the perfect place to dive deeper into the world of the craft cocktail.
A Locavore’s Delight
Seasoned concierges at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte recommend a trip to the city’s distilleries and breweries, serving locally-produced beverages unique to the Queen City. Favorites include The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, serving German brews and pretzels with beer cheese. Summer afternoons inspire hearty sips on the large patio, and winter transforms the space into a holiday market with string lights and locally-sourced finds.
The city itself houses over 25 breweries and distilleries combined, making it a true Southern spirits destination. Charlotte distilleries celebrate the “grain to glass” movement, and Great Wagon Road Distillery welcomes out-of-town visitors with a facility tour and glass of Rua, an American Single Malt Whiskey. Owner Ollie Mulligan, born in Ireland, comes from a line of whiskey-makers, a family business he proudly continues in Charlotte. The hotel’s elevated Honor Bar features a unique partnership with the local distillery—the bottle of Rua in each room was aged in a barrel for the hotel, presenting a sip unique to The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte.
Cocktails prepared in the hotel’s bars further highlight the city’s culture and flavor through spirits and garnish selections. Locally-sourced gin, vodka, and rum give drinks a uniquely “Charlotte” touch. Mixologists hand-select garnishes grown on the hotel’s rooftop garden, which include fresh hints of rosemary, mint, thyme, and even edible flowers. Tour the garden on Saturday mornings to learn more about the LEED-Gold certified hotel’s commitment to sustainability, a feat that earned it the title of “Best Eco-Friendly Hotel” from USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest.
The Art of the Cocktail
To learn the secrets behind a Ritz-Carlton cocktail, join a seasoned mixologist at the hotel in a mixology lesson, complete with introductions on both shaken and stirred cocktails sure to impress guests at a soiree. Hidden Wine, a boutique wine shop in the hotel lobby, caters to date nights, girls’ getaways and business celebrations at its Wine Blending Experience. Craft a unique wine blend with inspiration from this instructor-led course, which provides an in-depth analysis of grape varietals and their flavor profiles.
In a city known for its spirits, it’s no surprise that Queen City was the first stop on the U.S tour of The Ritz-Carlton Cocktail Trolley by Asprey.
To further highlight the Asprey partnership, the hotel hosted a series of cocktail demonstrations and VIP events to introduce the bespoke trolley and its handcrafted accessories. Ritz-Carlton mixologists from Charlotte, Key Biscayne, and Washington, D.C. poured artfully-crafted cocktails in The Punch Room, an upscale spot reminiscent of a nineteenth-century drinking den. Throughout the month of September, mixologists led cocktail demonstrations in suites and in the lobby accompanied by chef-driven small bites.
Upon the trolley’s departure, celebrations of spirits continue at the Charlotte hotel. The Punch Room serves craft cocktails among golden sofas in an exclusive setting, while K Lounge jazz inspires an evening of craft beverages and live music. In addition, in-room mixology lessons highlight the art of the cocktail in an intimate, firsthand setting.