Last December, Skip Adams took over as the food and beverage director at the Windsor Court Hotel. One of his tasks was to upgrade the cocktails. Instead of checking out contemporary trends, he first hit the history books.
"Some of the first bars in the country were hotel bars," Adams said. "One of the first places a guest would get a punch would be at the front desk while waiting on a room. If this is where it started, then we should be on the forefront of today's offerings."
The cutting edge, though, can be a dangerous place for a hotel. Not every traveler, after trudging through airports or enduring a conference, wants to decipher a menu of unfamiliar drinks. The Windsor Court, like other hotels upgrading their bars, had to balance the needs of both locals and guests.
Adams' first move was to hire bartender Christine Jeanine Nielsen, who was working at Loa with master mixologist Alan Walter. At the hotel's second-floor Polo Club Lounge, Nielsen dumped the pre-made mixers in favor of fresh juice. She created a menu of classic cocktails associated with hotels, but she made sure the regulars would think of the Polo Club Lounge as better and not different.
"Polo is about taking care of regular guests who have been coming there for years. They're very influential people in the city," Adams said.
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