While in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail in July, I was treated to a sneak peak of Omni Hotels & Resorts new “Homegrown” cocktail menu. Sitting at a table at the prestigious Rib Room restaurant in the storied Omni Royal Orleans, I was surrounded by some of the best and most lauded mixologists in the business, including Duggan McDonnell, Christy Pope, Kim Hassarud, Freddy Diaz and Adam Seger, all of whom contributed four cocktails to the five respective regional menus. We quaffed some of Seger’s Midwest-inspired drinks and dined on Exectuive Chef René Bajeux’s playful French fare as we celebrated the launch of Omni's regionally focused menus.
In this photo from left: Christy Pope, co-founder of Cuffs & Buttons Cocktail Catering & Consulting company; Freddy Diaz, co-founder of AlambiQ beverage consulting company; Kim Hassarud, founder of Liquid Architecture; Adam Seger, founder of HUM Spirits; and Duggan McDonnell, founding partner of San Francisco's Cantina.
In fact, that lunch highlighted what the Irving, Texas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts does so well — giving a personalized flavor and feel to each of its 47 properties.
Launching this August, the Omni Hotels team debuted its five regional "Homegrown" menus that highlight authentic, regional flavors, showing the distinct and unique differences that pervade the different U.S. regions. What's more, the "Homegrown" menu is supplemented by additional cocktails created by Patrick Henry Creative Promotions that showcase a “farm-to-bar” focus. Like their "Homegrown" counterparts, these cocktails feature fresh ingredients that taste just as great as they look.
"The goal was to develop and implement an innovative beverage program that would differentiate the Omni brand from other luxury hotel companies," explains David Morgan, Vice President of Food and Beverage for Omni Hotels & Resorts. "Our hotels and resorts are carefully thought out to exemplify the local culture and flavor of each destination in an authentic manner. It was a natural evolution to carry that approach forward into a unique cocktail program that would be tailored to each region. The inspiration for the recipes come from local trends, local flavors and fresh indigenous ingredients."
Each mixologist has a special connection to the specific region for which they created cocktails, meaning the beverages provide a distinct understanding of each area, allowing Omni to become a haven for local imbibers to enjoy their own culture as well as an eye-opening experience for tourists looking to experience local fare and traditions.
With world-renowned and award-winning mixologists crafting the perfect cocktails, the Omni menus are full of fun, whimsical and delicious drinks. For Morgan, it was a no-brainer when choosing the five mixologists because "they are from or steeped in the knowledge of the five different regions — West, Texas, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast" and, therefore, are able to "ensure the drinks they created would be an authentic reflection of the area."
For example, San Francisco-based mixologist Duggan McDonnell’s Shanghai Gimlet (ABSOLUT Wild Tea Vodka, Thatcher’s Organic Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lime juice, topped with fresh cracked black pepper) is a refreshing beverage, featured at Omni’s West properties in Los Angeles and Colorado.
For native Texan and founder of Liquid Architecture Kim Hassarud creating cocktails for the Texas region was easy because Texans “are down to Earth, have a sense of humor like their food and drinks with a lot of flavor without the pretentiousness.” She indulges the region’s Southern charms with drinks such as Dr. Woodford Bell, a spiked milkshake made with Woodford Reserve, Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, Dr Pepper and graham crackers. For Haasarud, this reminds her of growing up in Texas, where she and her family had “two staples in our house, Dr Pepper and Blue Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.” The Texas menu also includes the Jalapeno Hop (jalapeno, vodka, citrus and Corona), the Smokin' Patron (a classic Patron Margarita with fresh lime and a touch of mezcal) and the Prickly Pear Sangria (a blend of Bacardi Limón and fresh prickly pear puree).
Founder of HUM Spirits, Adam Seger pays homage to his Midwest roots with quaffable treats such as the Ponche el Patron, made with Patron Silver Tequila, HUM Botanical Spirit, exotic citrus juices and smoked tea. In the Northeast region, Christy Pope, co-founder of Cuffs & Buttons Cocktail Catering and Consulting company, mixes a Pear & Rosemary Buck, made with Patron Silver Tequila, pear puree and fresh-squeezed lime juice, muddled with rosemary and topped with Fever Tree Ginger Beer. If you’re looking for more Southern classics, Freddy Diaz, co-founder of AlambiQ beverage consulting, concocted drinks for the Southeast hotels, including the Southern Basil-Berry Smash, which combines Woodford Reserve, Dry Sack Sherry, Cointreau, muddled strawberries, basil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
For Morgan and his team at Omni, creating an unforgettable experience is always the main goal.
"We want to elevate our guests’ overall culinary experience while being recognized as a leader in our category," he says. "The addition of the "Homegrown" cocktail menu not only offers our guests fresh, craft cocktails, but is a fresh and innovative approach to traditional beverage menus.