Staycation and Cocktail Crawl with The Plaza Hotel
I’ve lived in New York since I was eight-years-old and in that time I’ve check a lot of items off my bucket list. I’ve climbed the stairs to the top of the Empire State Building, I’ve scarfed down a pastrami on rye at Katz’s deli, I’ve even kissed a boy on a rowboat in Central Park. But one iconic experience has always eluded me. So when I got an invite for one-of-a-kind stay at New York’s most famous hotel, The Plaza Hotel, I jumped at the opportunity.
This fall, Fairmont Hotels is launching a new cocktail program called Classics Perfected, and to celebrate, they invited bloggers and mixologists from all around the world to gather at their New York hotel — The Plaza. Rather than just share the new menu with us, we instead embarked on a NYC crawl of the many bars and restaurants whose tastes and recipes inspired their new cocktail program.
As I entered The Plaza Hotel, I was immediately floored by its elegance. I’d grown up seeing The Plaza in movies and television shows, but until you see it with your own eyes, you can’t really fathom its splendor. From the grand staircase and crystal chandeliers in the main lobby, to the stained-glass ceiling of The Palm Court, it’s clear why this has been the ultimate destination in luxury travel for over 100 years.
After checking into my beautiful suite, I headed down to the stylish The Rose Club to meet the Fairmont Tastemakers. I was greeted by a diverse group of mixologists representing Fairmont properties from across the globe. We immediately began getting to know each other while sipping rum and champagne concoctions served in giant punchbowls. Though they were absolutely delicious, I had to pace myself — there were still four more bars to visit.
Leaving the opulent Rose Club, we headed downtown for a completely different vibe at Death & Co. Death & Co is a speakeasy so incognito, that I literally lived on the same block as it and never knew of its existence. While it was sunny and bright outside, stepping into the bar was like taking a trip into the upside-down. While it was certainly the darkest bar I’d ever stepped foot in, the drinks were just the opposite — bright and colorful explosions of flavor.
Next up was Dante, a cafe and bar operating in Greenwich Village since 1915. Dante exudes retro coziness, the type of place you could imagine seeing Hemingway at, curled up in a corner and nursing a whiskey. We were imbibed with countless offerings from their cocktail menu, including a few that the Fairmont mixologists remarked were some of their absolute favorite drinks. I’m a huge negroni fan and was blown away by their extensive variations on the cocktail. It’s a place I would absolutely return to, especially on a Friday when they offer live jazz.
Heading east, our next stop was Mace, a cocktail bar specializing in herbal drinks (think bee-pollen infused vodka or cardamom tequila). I was glad to have the Fairmont mixologists present to help me decode the menu as everything was definitely out of my comfort zone. It was exciting to try the creative, almost scientific takes on classic cocktails (one of which included “ants bitters,” yup, as in the bugs!) The stop concluded with a hilarious game wherein the bloggers and mixologists dared each other to eat the Thai peppers garnishing one of our drinks. For the record, I tried the pepper and I still can’t feel my tongue.
Our final stop on the tour was across the East River at Maison Premiere, a New Orleans-style watering hole in Williamsburg. It was quite the cinematic destination with a grand horseshoe-shaped bar and suspender-clad bartenders. To be fair, after tasting what seemed like hundreds of cocktails, almost anything would have tasted good to me, but their drinks (especially the ones made with absinthe) were out of this world. By the end of the evening, our group was laughing and exchanging phone numbers and email addresses, promising to visit the Fairmont hotels in each mixologist’s hometown. I felt like I left the evening with a deeper appreciation for the art of the cocktail and found myself eagerly awaiting the Classics Perfected menu that the Fairmont mixologists were putting together.
To say I slept well that night would have been the understatement of the century. Luckily, I had nothing planned the next day because wild horses couldn’t have dragged me from my lush, king-sized bed. Of course, a decadent breakfast care of The Plaza room service was the one and only thing worth waking up for.