Hotel Cocktail Bars Make Their Big, Expertly Shaken, Comeback

Not many think of hotel bars today as the pinnacle of imaginative craft cocktails. Imagine trying to order even a basic Manhattan at a Holiday Inn. Shudder. But the fact is that hotels were once the home to some of the best bartenders in the world. Ago Perrone is one of our favorites in London. While many hotel bars are stuck in the Dark Ages, the lure of a hotel — and finding top-notch cocktails within — has not been lost to time. Here in NYC, it on the rise with the opening of NoMad and at a small but mighty bar called Lantern's Keep in the Iroquois Hotel.

Bringing a downtown approach to midtown, Keep's head bartender Theo Lieberman (previously of Milk & Honey) lists classics alongside new creations on his ever-evolving menu — and even finds room for a modern twist, like a carbonated cocktail that changes daily.

Combine those drinks with squeezed-to-order juices, an ice program that includes double-chilled Kold-draft shaking ice, premium spirits and a rotating cast of incredible bartenders, and you have the makings of a notably decadent hotel bar.

However, one of the things that makes Theo's approach different from the many now-legendary predecessors that worked in hotel bars years ago is that he is not adverse to sharing drink recipes to guests who inquire. The craft today is not about secrecy, but service: the mastery of making a drink, and the irreplaceable quality that a bar can bring to the customer.

One of my favorite drinks on the menu is the namesake Iroquois #2 cocktail — a gorgeously rich drink suitable for the marbled setting. The foam created from shaking the fresh pineapple resembles an egg-white cap, providing a weightless resting point for the Angostura garnish.

Hotel Cocktail Bars Make Their Big, Expertly Shaken, Comeback
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  • 1 1/2 ounces Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac
  • 1 ounce Fresh squeezed pineapple juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
  • 1/4 ounce Cane sugar
  • Angostura bitters
  1. Combine ingredients and shake vigorously with ice for about 10 seconds.
  2. Strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish with two dashes of Angostura bitters.
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