Tag: HotelChatter Interviews

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Confessions of Hotel Bartender, Vol 7: A Cheeky Drink at Virgin Chicago

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  Site Where: 203 N. Wabash [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60601
March 26, 2015 at 3:45 PM | by | ()

A few weeks ago we stopped by Virgin Chicago to sample some food in their all-day dining outlet, Miss Ricky's and ended upstairs at the Commons Club to partake in an adult libation from the cheeky bar menu.

After bellying up to the bar, we had chance to bend the ear of the head bartender, Jon Harris about what the drinks we were sipping and his thoughts on the industry.

This Chicago native has spent some time mixing cocktails from DC to London and back to the Windy City. Shaking some of the hottest drinks in DC's first cocktail bar, The Gibson, Jon eventually landed the job at the Virgin and started putting together the back bar well before the hotel swung it's doors open to guests.

Keep reading for our Q&A with Jon Harris

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Confessions of a Hotel Bartender, Vol. 6: W Chicago - City Center

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  Site Where: 172 W Adams Street [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60603
February 4, 2015 at 2:24 PM | by | ()

While Chicago temps are going down and the streets are piling up with snow, we can always rely on the folks over the W Chicago City Center to keep us warm and toasty with delicious libations. We scored a chance to catch up with the hotel's head bartender and resident mixologist, Lauren Parton, to get her thoughts on industry trends and what we can see for the spring thaw when it comes to drinking.

(Coincidentally, Parton was tasked with creating the cocktail menu for the renovation relaunch party for their sister property, W Chicago Lakeshore, and whipped up some edible cocktails that were passed around like hors d'oeuvres. We can't argue with this concept.)

The genius mind behind a specialty cocktail menu in the W's Living Room, Parton has more than just cocktails in her repertoire. Her industry career began creating some culinary masterpieces in a few of Chicago's greatest eateries. When she made the move to hotel bartending--at Raffaello's Drumbar--Parton was shipped off to Bourbon Camp and the rest is libation history!

Keep reading for our Q&A with Lauren Parton

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Confessions of a Hotel Bartender, Vol. 5: Ritz Paris & Connaught London

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  Site Where: Carlos Place, London, United Kingdom, W1K 2AL
April 11, 2014 at 9:47 AM | by | ()

What happens when two famous hotel bartenders spend a week mixing cocktails in the same bar? In the case of Agostino Perrone, director of mixology at the Connaught London, and Colin Field, head bartender of the Ritz Paris, it’s a bringing together of styles, a list of delicious drinks as a result, and lucky for us, double the Confessions of a Hotel Bartender.

We stopped by the buzzing Connaught Bar to hear about Colin’s week-long residence in London and learned more about cocktails in an evening than we had in our entire lives, from molecular mixology being dead (in case you didn’t know already), to the story of an old Italian liqueur called ‘the Witch’, and of course, the perennial hangover-cure conundrum.

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Confessions of a Hotel Bartender, Vol. 4: The Langham London

March 28, 2014 at 2:06 PM | by | ()

We caught up with Alex Kratena, the award-winning bartender at the Artesian bar at The Langham London earlier this week on a visit to the Langham Pasadena where he unveiled some of the specialty cocktails drinks he's created for Langham's U.S. hotels.

But Kratena also showed off another one of his best drinks, The Langham Martini (£16.50), a gin martini made with Tanqueray No. TEN, vermouth and bitters and served in a custom-made, detachable silver vessel, that lets you sip the martini at the perfect, cold, temperature until the last drop. The olives, macerated with Tanqueray No. TEN botanicals are served on the side. Even if you don't like gin, you will like this drink. You will also probably never want anyone other than Kratena to make you a gin martini again.

(Cool fact: Some call the drink The James Bond Martini because you can drink the martini with one hand and whack somebody on the head with the heavy stem in your other hand.)

On a busy night, Kratena and his team can make over 500 cocktails. So we couldn't wait for him to spill his Confessions of a Hotel Bartender including his answer to the all-important question--how do you cure a hangover?

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Confessions of a Hotel Bartender, Vol 3: Park Hyatt Chicago

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  Site Where: 800 N. Michigan Avenue [map], Chicago, Illinois, United States, 60611
October 11, 2013 at 12:16 PM | by | ()

Keeping with our series of bending the ear of our favorite barkeeps, we recently had the opportunity to find out what NoMI Lounge Manager and bartender, Kevin Beary, at the Park Hyatt Chicago thinks about the industry's preferred poisons.

HotelChatter: So, what's your bar-tending journey?

Kevin Beary: I started my hotel bar career at the historic Bellevue in Philadelphia and moved to the iconic Clover Club.

HC: NoMI is quite the destination in Chicago, with an ideal location and great reputation, what is your thought process when designing a new cocktail menu?

KB: A new cocktail list is like the first day of school. It's a little nerve racking but exciting at the same time. It allows me to be creative yet still stay true to the NoMI experience.

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Is Marriott’s Autograph Collection Planning to Take Over the (Hotel) World?

October 11, 2013 at 9:13 AM | by | ()

We’ve been receiving a steady stream of news and tidbits over the past few months about the ever-growing portfolio of properties that are joining Marriott’s Autograph Collection (not to be confused with AC by Marriott).

Within the past month alone, properties that have fallen under the Autograph Collection umbrella are The Lexington (the Collection’s third property in New York), the Siena Hotel in North Carolina, the Castle Hotel in Florida, the Powerscourt Hotel in Ireland, The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo, and—this just in—the not-yet-built Civic Hotel in Surrey, British Columbia. With its 50th hotel being announced later this month, this begs the obvious question: Is the Autograph Collection aiming to take over the world?

To get to the bottom of this, we approached Amanda Altree, VP of marketing for Autograph Collection, to give us the straight scoop.

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What's on Deck for Tomorrow at HotelTonight

April 4, 2013 at 4:32 PM | by | ()

We mean "tomorrow" as in the future.

"Back where it all began." HotelTonight founder and CEO Sam Shank reflects for a moment, and takes a bite of a kettle-cooked potato chip.

We're chilling at the bar in the far back of the bustling lobby of The Ace, where, in late 2010, Shank launched HotelTonight and which now inspires the interior design of the HT headquarters on the other side of the country.

Has it already been more than two years?! HT still seems like the hot new thing, though they've grown to a staff of over 80 and now support 5 languages and 6 currencies for properties on sale in 12 countries. Their most recent "big news" came only last week, as they welcomed hotels in Rome, Florence, Madrid and Barcelona to the app and showed off their snazzy SF digs in a episode of TechCrunch's TC Cribs. Heck, you know we're already fans; last week we booked three nights in two countries using HotelTonight.

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Confessions of a Hotel Bartender, Vol 2: QT Gold Coast

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  Site Where: 7 Staghorn Avenue, Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia, 4217
March 29, 2013 at 3:44 PM | by | ()

Keeping with our series of bending the ear of our favorite barkeeps, we recently had the opportunity to find out what bartender, Nicholas James, from Stingray Lounge at QT Gold Coast in Surfers Paradise thinks about the industry's preferred poisons.

HotelChatter: How many years have you been in the industry and time at Stingray?

Nicholas James: 5 years in the industry, and coming up to nearly one year at Stingray.

HC: What type of formal training do you have?

NJ: I have studied and worked alongside some of Australia’s most recognized and award winning industry professionals in and around Sydney’s small bars, pubs and restaurants.

HC: With such an extensive list of creative cocktails, what is your least favorite to make; the one you go 'really? I have to make that?' but still do it with a smile?

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Confessions of a Hotel Bartender, Vol 1: Trump Panama

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  Site Where: Calle Punta Colón, Panama, Panama, 0833-00321
March 12, 2013 at 9:32 AM | by | ()


We recently saddled up to Cava 15 at the Trump Ocean Club in Panama. While sipping on a (what else?) Panama beer, we struck up a conversation with the bartender, who went by Jack the Ripper. Out chat went something like this…

HotelChatter: So, being a hotel bartender and all, we're guessing you like to drink?

Jack the Ripper: Yes, but I don't like to overdo it. I only drink to enjoy.

HC: That's very wise. When did you decide that?

JTR: Well, I used to work on cruise ships, quite far from Panama, far from my country. I'd be gone eight months at a time, and when I came home, I discovered that after two or three drinks, I didn't want anymore. My body rejected it, you know? So I said, 'No more. I feel disgusting, I feel heavy.' Two or three drinks, and that's it.

HC: Which cruise line did you work for?

JTR: Costa. It's an Italian cruise line

HC: Isn't that the one that capsized near Tuscany last year?

JTR: Yes.

Continue reading after the jump!

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We've Got The Inside Edition On Edition Hotels

October 31, 2012 at 9:03 AM | by | ()

Construction is certainly coming along over on Berners Street in London, as the historic Berners Hotel continues its transformation into the Edition London.

But what about the actual Edition brand as a whole? In the four years since it was first announced, we've only gotten to see two properties: the Edition Istanbul, and the now ex-Edition Modern Honolulu. And we have it on good authority that Edition London is being hailed as the brand's big re-launch, rather than just hotel number three.

Whose authority, you ask? Why, Edition's new VP of Brand Experience, Ben Pundole. (If that name sounds familiar, then you're right: Pundole was one of the original founders of King & Grove Hotels, though he left the company in June. Now, he works full time for Edition Hotels under the man himself, Ian Schrager).

Read on to hear from Pundole himself about Edition's new direction!

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From Knights Inns To The Westin: the Hotel Evolution of Ben Folds Five

October 24, 2012 at 9:14 AM | by | ()

As Starwood hotel openings go, we've seen some pretty wild (and occasionally nerdy) parties. But the one at Westin New York Grand Central last Friday seemed extra special.

About a dozen Westin heavenly beds were hauled up to the hotel's third floor ballroom, where select SPG members got cozy and settled in for a private performance by indie trio Ben Folds Five. It's not every day you get to watch a live concert in bed!

But that wasn't the only exciting thing about the grand opening. Earlier in the day, HotelChatter got to sit down for an exclusive interview with the band and quiz them on their early days in the 90s as motel-hopping road warriors. Sure enough, they had plenty of stories to share...

HotelChatter: When you guys were just starting out and traveling to different cities each night, what was it like? Where would you stay?

Ben Folds: The Knight's Inn. Usually, one of us would book the room as if it was just for one person, and the others would hide out in the van and wait. The reason being, if there was more than one of us, the price would go up. So then we'd get into the room; someone would share a bed, I usually blew up a mattress and slept on the floor.

HC:: And how much did you have to pay?

BF: $39.95 usually. We would use whatever cash we'd gotten from the night before.

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The Sheraton's Oldest Employee Shares A Few Memories From The Hotel's Heyday

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  Site Where: 811 7th Ave [map], New York, NY, United States, 10019
October 8, 2012 at 9:33 AM | by | ()

Back in May, our resident hotel archivist JetSetCD posted scans of the very 1960s-looking Hotel Americana, which these days we all know as the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers. And while plenty about the hotel has changed over the years, one thing that's remained constant is a particular server that's worked for the hotel since it opened in 1962.

Tilla Soeder came to the US from Germany in 1959 when she was 21 years old, and, on the advice from her aunt and uncle's neighbor, she applied for a job as a server at the soon-to-open Americana Hotel. The rest, as they say, is history...

HotelChatter: Do you still work here?

Tilla: I still work here. But right now I'm on sick leave, unfortunately.

HC: What is your favorite part about working here?

Tilla: My favorite part is the atmosphere, the connections we make with guests; it's just a big family. Yes, things get hectic, but that comes with the job. At least we don't get bored!

HC: How different was the hotel back in the 1950s?

Tilla: When I came, we had the Colombian Coffee House downstairs. That was such a popular restaurant, we seated 350 people each day. People would be waiting on the stairs when we opened in the morning: the line never stopped!

HC: Who used to have breakfast there?

Tilla: Business men would come and have breakfast down there because we had a public announcement system. They'd show up, put their name down, and every other second you would hear, for example, "Mr. Goldstein, would you come to the desk, please?" They just wanted to get their name called out in public—the business men loved it!

For more of the interview, read on below!

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