As the winner of the 2013 VIBE Best Spirits Program award for the hotel segment, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts (the international chain with roughly 70 locations in the US, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East) saw another landmark resulting from the 2006 search for a new look and feel to their beverage programs. Engaging well-known culinarian Kathy Casey of Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen, the chain launched F.A.M.E. – Fairmont Artistic Mixology Experience – what they hoped would become a superior beverage program and bar culture for its many lounges, bars and restaurants that was both memorable and unique.
The ultimate goal – to ensure that cocktails were delivered with consistency, precision and perfection – embraced the concept that a well-executed bar program can match the world’s best kitchens in terms of freshness, flavor, creativity, passion and innovation, among other things.
Part of that depends on premium and super premium spirits of course, but key also is an international mixology training program that elevates levels of excellence in drink-making, cocktail history and spirit knowledge required of bartenders in all corners of the globe.
Of course, consistency across far flung operations is difficult, so part of the program focuses on a variety of training programs and operational tools including on-site refresher training that provides operational standards, product knowledge and menu review and customization. On-line training videos allow instruction to be universal, wherever the location. Operationally, the program provides some tools that are often overlooked in the high-flown cocktail world, like opening and closing checklists; product, garnish and bar tool checklists, and an accountability program, including property specific cocktails, more than 600 recipes are kept in an active database.
And whenever possible, freshly picked and properly stored herbs, fruits and vegetables are being sourced from the hotel gardens, and organic honey comes from hotel-kept beehives.
Creative signature cocktails that contributed to the program’s award include the Tequila Rojo (Sauza Blue Reposado Tequila, Campari, fresh Ruby grapefruit and sweet vermouth), Ri’Invention ((Ri)1 Rye, Aperol, St.-Germain), and the Terrace Rum Punch (Bacardi 8 Rum, Bacardi Select Rum, Grand Marnier fresh lime, white peach puree, pineapple juice). At the Fairmont Olympic in Seattle, mixologist Michael Vizzoni’s signatures feature such drinks as Glacier Blue (Bombay Sapphire Gin, vodka and a dash of blue Curaçao) and Olympic Gold (citrus vodka, gin, Canton Ginger Liqueur, Remy Cognac VSOP and a lemon twist.)
In an area often neglected by cocktail programs, Fairmont gave creative energy toward non-alcohol cocktails like Rosemary Lemon Fizz (Fresh lemon, rosemary, roof-top honey syrup, soda, topped with honey lemon foam) and the Seasonal Market No’jito (hand-pressed, market fresh fruit, fresh lime, local honey and soda).