How We Created the Fall Cocktail Menu by Bartender Ari Rector


The Oliver Hotel134.jpg

Fun Fact! At Oliver Royale, we change up the food menus, but we also change up the cocktail menus every season. It’s an exciting time to witness the changes and I’m even more thrilled to share with you, first hand, how we created this Fall’s cocktail menu.

Taking on my first cocktail menu change was intimidating. I’ve contributed to previous menus, but never had to manage the intricacies of developing a well-balanced and on-theme lineup. There are plenty of details to consider, both creatively and logistically, when working on a new seasonal menu. There are questions we bartenders must think about and ultimately answer for a perfectly balanced, delicious, and thoughtful menu. Thankfully, my counterpart, Chris, is a veteran of the cocktail game, and we worked together to create a fresh take on this year's Fall menu!

So diving head-on, we pored over each cocktail, each alternative, again and again. We asked ourselves questions like how do we make tequila taste like fall? Instead of drawing primarily from stereotypical autumn flavors like pumpkin and allspice, we drew inspiration from the sensations of fall: a dry, crisp breeze, the coziness of being wrapped up in a blanket, or the smell of smoke from a campfire.

We even tackled presentation, like would a certain cocktail be better presented in a coupe or a whiskey snifter? Beyond liquor, you also want to present a varied cast of supporting ingredients. A bright, tart tequila drink must counterbalance an earthy, saccharine gin drink on the menu.

We went back and forth on the drawing board to figure out the logistics, too: is there a variety of spirits being used? You probably want a few different whiskey drinks, one boozy, one bright, one dry. The list goes on - How many gin cocktails are too many? How many drinks should be served up? How many on the rocks?

With this template to guide us, we began to craft our first menu together.

So here we are now - polishing up the menu, adding the last touches, and excited to present you a couple of Oliver bar classics, like the rich and smoky Campfire Old Fashioned and Bram Stoker. You’ll see some new takes on old classics with the Eye Opener and the Circa 1895. To keep things current, we brought plenty of new players to the game with Smoke & Mirrors, A Clinch River Runs Through It, the Terra Otono, and the Euphemia.

Chris and I are tremendously excited to present the Fall cocktail menu to our guests and to build upon the solid foundation we inherited from our previous bar manager, Colin, and lead bartender, Matt. We will do all we can to live up to their legacy!

Here’s a sneak peak of one of our brand new cocktails premiering in the coming weeks, Smoke & Mirrors. Go ahead and give it a try! We'd love to know what you think!

Smoke & Mirrors

● 1 oz Rye Whiskey

● .5 oz Suze

● .5 oz Amaro Abano

● .5 oz Lillet Rouge

Stir, pour up into a coupe and top with champagne! Drink up!

Stay tuned for the menu release on 9/26! Check us out on Facebook or Instagram for more sneak peeks!