December is a time for hotel beverage programs to take advantage of guests’ good spirits and elevate revenues through holiday-themed cocktails that have a seasonal backstory to enhance the customer experience. Under pre-pandemic conditions, holiday-themed cocktails traditionally drive incremental revenue in hotel bars and events, especially with corporate groups and year-end parties.
While the pandemic continues to sideline business travel and corporate events at many hotels throughout the U.S., the Caribbean is heating up with leisure travelers looking to escape winter weather and enjoy the holiday season. For example, the enormous 3,805-room Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas recently reopened on December 10 after being closed most of the year due to coronavirus.
Meanwhile, its Caribbean neighbor more than 900 miles to the south, the Hyatt Regency Resort Spa & Casino in Palm Beach, Aruba, reopened in August after being closed since March because of COVID-19. During that time, the property completed a multimillion-dollar renovation, with additional outdoor dining options and a focused social distancing strategy that has been successful so far. Guests staying at the 359-room property in December will notice a few holiday-themed tipples on the menu to accent the season. We asked F&B Director Maurice van der Linden to give us the backstory and recipes behind two of these cocktails: The Christmas-themed Bon Pasco and the Hanukkah-inspired Electric Lemonade.
The cocktail: Bon Pasco
The Bon Pasco translates to Merry Christmas in Papiamento, the native language of Aruba. It’s currently featured in the new Master Mixology class at the resort’s Palms Beach Bar, which is a one-hour course conducted for guests each Sunday afternoon. Attendees learn how to make a signature drink using organic spirits from Greenbar Distillery in Los Angeles. In addition, the Bon Pasco is also sold as a special menu item to guests during regular hours at the Palms Beach Bar and the resort’s Alfresco Bar throughout the month of December.
“Our Bon Pasco cocktail for the holiday season is inspired by the colorful lights seen on Seroe Preto, a tall island hillside that the neighboring community in the town of San Nicolaas help decorate with lights each year,” explains van der Linden. “We wanted to craft something that was a sensory experience reflective of Christmas in Aruba. The vodka is mixed with the Campari to offer the perfect balance to the special red fruit jam, which consists of fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries using an equal portion of each fruit. To make the jam, mix the fruit with white sugar and then cook for 15 minutes. The final result is a beautifully sweet and vibrant red cocktail that is as bright as a holiday light and adorned with a Christmas tree-like green spearmint sprig on top.”
Bon Pasco recipe
1.25 oz. vodka
½ oz. of Campari
½ oz. of fresh lemon juice
2 oz. of red fruit jam
Garnished with fresh spearmint
The cocktail: Electric Lemonade
The main spirit in Hyatt Regency Aruba’s Electric Lemonade is Blue Curaçao, a liqueur which originated about 70 miles east of Aruba on neighboring Caribbean island Curaçao. Aside from the regional roots, the spirit’s color in this particular cocktail is meant to reflect the blue in Israel’s flag as a nod to Hanukkah. Electric Lemonade is a holiday menu item available to guests at the resort’s Palms Beach Bar, Alfresco Bar, and the poolside Balashi Bar and Grill during December.
Photo: The main spirit in Electric Lemonade is Blue Curaçao, reflecting the blue in Israel’s flag as a nod to Hanukkah.
“This cocktail represents the festival of lights and the miracles we are reminded of throughout this holiday season. The Blue Curaçao symbolizes the national color of Israel while the lemon relates to love, light, and good fortune,” van der Linden says. “The vodka in this drink is a classic spirit representing tradition, in the same way a potato latke is part of traditional Hanukah meal. The ginger ale ties everything together, providing a pop of syrupy sweetness.”
Electric Lemonade recipe
1 oz. Blue Curaçao
1.25 oz. vodka
3 oz. lemonade
Splash of ginger ale