Suiting all seasons4 min read . Updated: 28 Nov 2014, 08:51 AM IST
The best drinks in the world are built to be flexible just like a hotel room is built to be adaptable for any occasion
I have stayed in hotels a lot. I still do it often and it surprises me to see how the space that one occupies for a night or two must be malleable to a variety of needs and occasions. Mostly I stay in hotels when I travel for work, and during my stay, my room becomes part office, part bedroom, part after-party venue (sometimes). And on occasions when I go on vacation, I use my hotel rooms completely differently. There are, in fact, some hotels where I have stayed while at work and on vacation at different times. And it is amazing to see how the same space takes on two very different roles at different times. But that’s the beauty of a hotel room—it is designed for all occasions, all needs, and all types of travellers.
Two of my most memorable stays have been in the US. The first was a trip to Los Angeles, a city I hadn’t visited before, but one that quickly endeared itself to me. Due to some major event in the city that coincided with my visit, the only hotel room that I could get was one situated just off Sunset Boulevard, a rather wonderful place for a hotel.
The room itself was not designed for business use. It was huge with a balcony that overlooked the Strip and a bathroom that would have made any Texan ranch feel small. On my first night there, I discovered that one of my friends was also staying in the same hotel. Now, that’s coincidence. A seasoned visitor to LA himself, he took me under his wing and encouraged me to stay up past midnight to beat my crippling jet lag. Armed with a bottle of bourbon and a champagne cooler full of ice and beers, we set about chatting and pushing through leaden eyes, until we could take no more and had to give in to the timezone.
That evening set a precedent, and with every evening that followed, the assembled masses in Room 1424 kept growing, and by the end of my week-long stay, I think I had the hottest party spot in all of LA.
By contrast, I once visited New York on a leisure trip, staying in a rented apartment in the heart of Manhattan. I had booked the place out as a party pad for a week of fun. At that time, I was working in the music business, and while in New York I popped along to check out a new act I had heard about—a band that was playing at a local bar called Pianos.
Twenty minutes into watching the act, I knew I wanted to sign the band, but there was stiff competition from a number of other record labels. But I was determined. So determined that I cancelled my vacation, transformed the apartment into a travelling version of my London office, and extended my trip to work out a deal.
These two events show how a hotel room is built to be adaptable for any occasion, just like the best drinks in the world are built to be flexible, too.
Take Johnnie Walker Blue Label. It is considered to be one of the most reverenced drinks in the world and is created using some of the oldest and rarest stocks of Scotch that its owner Diageo has. And that is some serious stuff, believe me.
As such, it is tempting to serve a drink like this neat, or with just a dash of water. But that doesn’t always have to be the way. Staying in a top hotel for business in LA doesn’t mean the room can’t become the ultimate late night hotspot for a week for those in the know of the city.
The same is true of a good Cognac, such as Remy Martin XO, which works well with the sweet, grape-based flavours mixing well, and makes an excellent Old Fashioned, substituting the bourbon for Remy XO and dialling back on the sugar.
The key here is to make the spirit work for you; if you want serious and stylish, then drink these top-notch products neat, or with ice or a dash of water. There is nothing wrong with that at all. But if you want to dress down a little, let your hair down but with a premium product, then there is nothing wrong in bringing some party attitude to your pour of choice. The nights I had in that hotel in LA were unforgettable. Let’s hope a cocktail with a serious spirit will be, too.
Joel Harrison is a drinks writer and consultant and co-founder of the website Caskstrength.net.
Johnnie Walker Blue Moon
Johnnie Walker Blue Label stirred down with oloroso sherry and chocolate bitters.
50ml Johnnie Walker® Blue Label
5ml oloroso sherry
One dash of chocolate bitters
Stir ingredients until perfect dilution. Strain over large ice cube (or cubed ice) in a rocks glass. Garnish with blue flower or orange twist.
Three hotels where your room can double up as a work gin or party palace:
Paris: Le Meurice. Situated just off the River Seine, this beautiful hotel is adorned by interiors designed by Philippe Starck and is a short walk from Paris’s best whisky shop, La Maison Du Whisky, to top up your minibar if needed.
London: The Berkeley. Sitting between Knightsbridge and Hyde Park Corner (with views over the park itself), this brilliant hotel has just introduced Signature Suites, extremely large apartment-style offerings with a bar that is stocked with Macallan Scotch, Remy Martin cognac and other amazing spirits. The perfect place for a London stay.
New York: The Peninsula. A stone’s throw from the Museum of Modern Art, you’re already well placed to get down to the financial district for work, or stay where you are to entertain. The easy-to-remember address (on Fifth and 55th Street) will mean any gathering you host will be well attended.