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The Biltmore Santa Barbara Wins the Official Drink of Santa Barbara Cocktail Contest

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Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, an AAA Five-Diamond award recipient and California’s premiere Four Seasons resort, has won the Official Drink of Santa Barbara Cocktail Contest with their creation, the Biltmore Fuerte.

After nearly five months of Resort closure due to the Thomas Fire and Montecito Debris Flow, Ty Lounge Bartender Samantha Graham welcomed this year’s contest with eager arms. Originally from South Africa, Sam quickly fell in love with the close knit community feeling Santa Barbara had to offer, and was deeply moved by the loss the community faced in the wake of these two natural disasters. When thinking about cocktails and ingredients that truly embodied the spirit of Santa Barbara, Sam recalled a news story about Nick Wigle, owner of Super Bee Rescue, a bee removal and rescue company. Sam reached out to Nick and discovered that in addition to saving the honey, he also rescued many bees whose hives were destroyed in the Thomas Fire. The honey he extracted from these hives had a new and unique flavour with notes of sweet smoke, which Sam knew she had to use as the key element of her community strength-inspired cocktail, the Biltmore Fuerte.

The Biltmore Fuerte cocktail features locally-distilled Cutler’s 33 bourbon, which holds notes of sweet honeycomb, caramel, vanilla and spice.  The notes of honeycomb are mirrored by the Super Bee Rescue Thomas Wildfire honey, which offers subtle rich smoky flavours. Local Ebby’s Farm strawberries create a crisp and tart contrast, while lemons and lavender flowers from the Resort’s gardens balance the cocktail perfectly.

“Just as Nick was able to find something good in the wake of tragedy, we have come together as a community to support and help one another, despite being faced with unimaginable odds,” says Karen Earp, General Manager of Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. “Santa Barbara is truly resilient and has never been stronger or better – the Biltmore Fuerte is a testament to the strength of our beloved community.”

Visit Santa Barbara, the destination marketing organisation for Santa Barbara’s South Coast region, hosted its second annual competition June 21, 2018 following two weeks of online voting to secure the five finalists. Local restaurants, bars and lounges were invited to develop a signature mixed drink that celebrates the distinctive attributes of the “American Riviera.” The creation required inclusion of a spirit from Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, a locally owned small-scale craft distillery in the city’s Funk Zone. Contestants were encouraged to use at least one local ingredient and take inspiration from Santa Barbara’s dramatic landscapes, architectural landmarks and culinary scene. Finalists participated in the live competition, where a panel of judges decided on the winning cocktail.

In celebrating this award, along with its 90th year, the Resort is currently offering the Experience More – Resort Credit Package, which includes luxurious accommodations and a Resort credit of up to USD 300. Guests may use their credit to experience more – from scenic oceanfront dining at Bella Vista and handcrafted cocktails and sunset tapas at Ty Lounge to tennis lessons, spa treatments and more. For reservations, book online, call 805 969 2261 or contact your travel professional (chain code FS).

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is also celebrating with its popular Summer Tasting Series, which returned with a new lineup of the best local purveyors, distillers and winemakers. Guests are invited to experience the bounty of Santa Barbara via three tasting events set within several of the Resort’s standout venues. Additionally, new culinary and spa offerings have been introduced, further enhancing the guest experiences already available.

Wines & Spirits

Touring through the best Italian wines

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Dreaming of an Italian vacation? You can experience the country’s ancient, romantic regions without even leaving home. The wines of Italy embody the heart and soul of the regions in which they’re grown.

Letting the vineyards be your guide, travel from the Tuscan coast to the Adriatic’s sandy beaches, to the black, rich slopes of an active volcano. Marvel at Sicily’s crystal blue waters and Campania’s storied past. You can even learn about some dedicated winemakers along the way.

Invite your friends for a wine tasting, open up these Italian whites, and enjoy their not-commonly-known varieties accompanied by light, Italian fare.

Ca’Marcanda Vistamare: The playful name of this wine, which means “sea view,” was inspired by the Tyrrhenian sea breeze, the sun and the cheerful, lighthearted outlook of the Tuscan coast. Coastal innkeepers would use “vistamare” to entice hotel guests, even if their rooms only offered a limited Mediterranean view. The vineyards used for Vistamare enjoy a panoramic view, and their grapes are gently touched by the salt air and brilliant colors of the Tuscan sea.

Terlato Vineyards Colli Orientali del Friuli Friulano: Travel to Northern Italy’s Friuli region, where mountains overlook the Adriatic Sea, its coastline dotted with lagoons. Friulano is the predominant wine here because of the ideal growing conditions. This Friulano comes from very old vines on estate vineyards at 1,050 feet above sea level, with cool nights and warm days, ideal for producing wines with excellent acidity and elegance.

Anselmi San Vincenzo: Grown in the Monteforte area within the Veneto region, San Vincenzo vines are planted on 110 acres of volcanic tuff and limestone. Veneto is encircled by Lake Garda, the Dolomite Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Imagine floating down the Grand Canal in Venice before finding a cafe where you can sip this delicious wine of the region.

Alta Mora Etna Bianco: Travel south to Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, where these grapes are grown and harvested on the slopes of the active volcano, Mount Etna. The soil is black, fertile and dynamic, and the name Alta Mora translates to “tall, black,” representing the great heights of the vineyards on the mountain and the dark, black volcanic soil. This wine is a slight nod to Sauvignon Blanc in style.

Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina: This vineyard is in Sorbo Serpico, a tiny village in Campania’s Irpinia region, near Mount Vesuvius. The area, with its numerous castles and fortresses, has ancient roots, and has been a transit land between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic seas. Named after the method of vine cultivation in Sannio at the end of the Roman Era called Falangs (“poles”), this Falanghina is ideal as an aperitif. It can also accompany appetizers, plates of simple fish and vegetables as well as fresh cheeses.

Let these wines bring the beauty of Italy to your table.

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Wines & Spirits

Putting the Sparkle into Summer with new Spritzes

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Nothing says summer like a chilled, refreshing Spritz. The clink of ice cubes in the glass, the fizz of bubbles being poured, the swirl of a swizzle stick. And to celebrate summer this year, a number of Four Seasons hotels and resorts across Europe and Africa have created their own special twists on the classic Spritz, giving guests a new cocktail list to tick off this summer.

The Aperol Peach Spritz at Four Seasons Hotel Baku

Peaches are one of the favourite fruits of Azeris, being at their sweetest in summer and reminiscent of holidays spent in the great outdoors. The Aperol Peach Spritz at Four Seasons Hotel Baku combines fresh juicy peach with the ingredients of a typical Spritz to create a cocktail that has a touch of sweetness, yet remains refreshing.

Says the Hotel’s Assistant Food and Beverage Director Firat Saridikmen, a self-confessed “peachaholic,” “Sometimes you remember your summer holiday by one dish you ate, one song you heard, or one fragrance you smelled. We’re hoping that our Peach Spritz becomes the summer memory that our guests will take home with them this year long after they leave us.”

The KOLLÁZS Spritz at Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest has given a Hungarian twist to the traditional Spritz for this summer, with the addition of homemade local mountain berry soda in its KOLLÁZS Spritz.

Says Balázs Orbán, creator of the cocktail and Bartender at KOLLÁZS Bar, this is an “original Aperol Spritz with an extra punch that comes from the addition of the sweet red berries that give it a gorgeous pale red colour. The perfect pre-dinner drink to quench the thirst on a hot summer night.”

The Club Spritz at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel

In the sun-bathed Côte d’Azur, guests at Club Dauphin at Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat this summer will be able to enjoy the Club Spritz, created by Frank Carcamo, Chief Barman, and Johann Burgos, Director of Club Dauphin. Combining homemade rosemary syrup, cucumber syrup, fresh basil leaves, tilmut pepper berries, prosecco and a spray of homemade bitters, this is the perfect tipple infused with the flavours of the Grand-Hôtel. But the real secret is in this final spray of bitters.

Inspiration hit the pair like a ray of sunlight when they realised that many guests were enjoying the traditional Aperol Spritz poolside at the Club. Johann and Frank decided to create their own palate-tickling Spritz that fully expresses the unique scents, flavours and emotions of the region. Their homemade bitters recipe remains a closely guarded secret, but is based on the aromatic herbs found in the fragrant gardens of the Grand-Hôtel, whose blossoms and beauty have inspired Picasso and other famous artists over the years, as well as local liquors and wine. The process behind the bitters is at once unique and traditional, inspired by the Champagne riddling method. It starts with the preparation of a birch barrel, which is submerged in the Mediterranean for 24 hours and then desalted in fresh water. The barrel is next filled with homemade bitters for 14 days, and shaken and turned daily to infuse it with the concentrated aromas. Finally, the elixir is discarded and the barrel is refilled with the bitters mix to be aged over one year right at Club Dauphin. The result? A unique Spritz combining iodized, herbaceous and slightly vanilla flavours for a refreshing seaside sip.

The 2017 bitters is the first of a new vintage collection offered by Club Dauphin. Next year guests will have the chance to choose between the 2017 or 2018 vintages, each putting its own unique characteristics into a Club Spritz. This is just the beginning as more vintages are planned for the coming years to complete this unique collection by the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel, along the French Riviera.

Take a stroll along the Via Veneto with Four Seasons Hotel Firenze

The garden at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze is the perfect spot for sipping a summer tipple, and Edoardo Sandri, Head Mixologist at the Hotel’s Atrium Bar, has just the thing. Called the Via Veneto, this is his recommendation for this summer’s Spritz of choice. “It’s a sweeter version of the classic Italian Spritz, and is a blend of prosecco, St-Germain elderflower liqueur and fresh berries, decorated with a fresh flower. It’s like summer in a glass!”

Enjoying the Panorama at Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg

Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg is famed for its spectacular views, and it’s these very same views that have inspired the Panorama Spritz. Made with a blend of South African Claudia brut bubbles, fresh celery juice, litchi eau de vie and gin, this cocktail has a complex yet refreshing taste.

According to Takunda Mposhi, who is responsible for delivering the best cocktails each day at the Hotel’s Pre View bar, “The Panorama was inspired by the uninterrupted views of our beautiful city Jozi from Pre View, so there’s really no better place to enjoy it that right here with the whole city panorama laid out in front of you.”

The 19 Spritz at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

Taking guests on a journey from the north to the south of Portugal, the 19 Spritz at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon takes its name from its main ingredient, a traditional Portuguese flower liquor dating back to the 19th century, named Licor Beirão. Originally used as a medicinal product to soothe stomach aches, the tonic contains extracts of eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary and lavender, which perfectly complement the cocktail’s other ingredients – Espumante Valdoeiro, a sparkling wine from the Bairrada region of Portugal, and Agua Castello, mineral water produced since 1899 in a national ecological reserve in the Alentejo region.

And why should this be the drink of choice this summer in Lisbon? “The 19 Spritz is made with unique Portuguese ingredients, two of them dating back to the 19th century. It’s a refreshing Spritz representing the Portuguese soul – bubbly and fun – and is the perfect refreshing drink for a hot day in Lisbon,” says Bar Manager Ricardo Felgueiras.

The Ciao Campari at Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita

Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita is inviting guests to say “Ciao Campari!” with its new Spritz for the summer, combining Campari, fresh lemon, homemade ginger paste and tonic for a refreshing taste of the island. Since it’s a Spritz minus the prosecco, according to Bar Manager Avinash Ooriah, “this cocktail is less alcoholic and more refreshing, something to enjoy guilt-free by the pool or on the beach.” And with ginger having medicinal properties including helping to lower blood sugars and cholesterol, it could be considered to be on the healthier side of the cocktail menu. Cheers!

The Fashion Spritz at Four Seasons Hotel Milano

In the European capital of fashion, Bar Manager Luca Angeli at Four Seasons Hotel Milano decided to create a tribute to one of the most famous Italian cocktails using flavours of the Mediterranean to create the Fashion Spritz. By combining Essentiae Luna orange liqueur, created in small batches to a traditional family method, and the Hotel’s own recipe soda infused with grapefruit juice and Sichuan pepper, he has created a refreshing Spritz with a touch of bitterness and a spicy finish.

Says Angeli, “I wanted to highlight the citrus flavours and balance the sweetness with a touch of fresh basil and our homemade soda, and the result is an aperitif just perfect for enjoying in our Hotel’s peaceful garden on a sunny summer’s day.”

The Gigi Spritz at Four Seasons Hotel Moscow

With this having been the summer of football in Russia, Four Seasons Hotel Moscow is offering a Russian twist on the classic Spritz in the guise of the Gigi Spritz, named after football legend Gianluigi Buffon and his nickname “Gigi,” to let the football excitement live on.

Forming part of a menu of 11 cocktails named after famous footballers around the world, Sergey Zaletov, Head Bartender of Moskovsky Bar, says that “the Gigi is inspired by my favourite Italian footballer who embodies the spirit of the classic Italian cocktail perfectly to me.”

Russia meets Italy with the soda water being replaced by local pear lemonade, giving it a well-balanced, rounded and bittersweet flavour.

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Wines & Spirits

The Rise of Post-Dinner Cocktails – And How to Order Them

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Bar 1910 at Reichshof Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton offers a wide range of whiskey, gin, and spirits. [ Credit: Hilton ]

After-dinner drinks are becoming more than just an old boys’ club tradition.

​An expanding group of diners is looking to make the most out of culinary outings by extending their meals with inventive after-dinner cocktails and digestifs at hotel bars and restaurants, according to Hilton mixologists.

For some, the drinks are becoming an extension of the dessert menu as less-indulgent diners focus on lower-fat diets. Sipping on a small serving of Port wine, or a coffee or tea blended with liquor and spice, may feel less indulgent than blueberry pie.

​ For others, the drinks are a way to explore new spirits and variations on dinnertime favorites –all while extending quality time with family, friends and even that date you don’t want to end just yet.

In addition, let’s face it: knowing the difference between a Port, Amaro and Grappa can make you seem more cultured.   ​

​ Psssst: Port is a fortified wine with roots in Portugal and tends to be red and sweet though there are variations.  Amaro, which means “bitter” in Italian, is an Italian herbal liqueur that is often bittersweet and sometimes syrupy. Lastly, Grappa, which is likewise Italian and ​ sometimes called “firewater” for its kick, is a byproduct of the winemaking process, thanks to leftovers such as grape skin.

Love sorbet or snow cones? Try frozé–an icy blend of frozen rosé–which is the perfect way to end dinner on a hot night. Try this one on the scenic rooftop bar at The Graham Washington DC Georgetown, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. [ Credit: Hilton ]

Hilton’s Thom Caska is the Director of Food and Beverage at Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza. Thom is just one of the master mixologists Hilton has at its thousands of restaurants and bars throughout the world – below he offers some tips for how to order with knowledge and suit your palate.

Ask yourself if you prefer spirit-forward or flavor-forward drinks. That’s the first question every after-dinner drinker should answer. Spirit-forward drinks can scream of bourbon, scotch and vermouth-based cocktails while flavor-forward drinks let the fruits, herbs and mixers do the talking.

For spirit lovers: try an Old Fashioned – often made with whiskey or brandy – or a Sazerac, a New Orleans variation of a cognac or whiskey cocktail.

For more flavor-forward drinkers: try an Aviation, a classic cocktail often made with gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and crème de violette that creates a pretty lavender color.

Determine which kind of craving you’d like to satisfy, then get creative. After-dinner cocktails typically fall into four categories: coffee, citrus, bitter and herbal, or sweet and creamy. Determining if you tend to prefer tiramisu or lemon meringue pie, or coffee versus citrus drinks, is a great way to narrow down your perfect after-dinner beverage.

Need sweet satisfaction? A Chocolate Martini or White Russian are indulgent creamy treats.

For coffee lovers, try a Siciliano – a cocktail made with cold brew, vermouth, simple syrup and soda. Mr. Caska created an original that is now on the menu at the Millennium Hilton New York UN Plaza. He calls his concoction the November Red Eye Foam, a caffeinated treat made with Amaro, espresso, butternut squash, anise and cinnamon –all of which he sets in a culinary molecular whipper with soy lecithin powder.

Great Citrus options include Limoncello – the Italian lemon liqueur – or a Sidecar, a cocktail often made with cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice.

Bitter and herbal more your style? Amaro, the Italian liqueur, qualifies as a digestif – a category of drinks meant to help settle the stomach after dining.

Know your basic terminology. Apéritifs and Digestifs aren’t one in the same: Apéritifs are meant to be enjoyed at the start of a meal to stimulate the appetite, while digestifs are to help digestion after a meal. If you need help ordering, ask your server or bartender for suggestions.

Don’t be thrown by the sometimes-small glasses. Some after-dinner drinks can be quite high in alcohol content so they’re poured in small glasses for portion control (and a pretty display). Grappa, for example, sometimes consists of 40 to 45 percent alcohol. No matter what you order, be sure to sip responsibly.

Thomas Caska is the Director of Food and Beverage at Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza. He has consulted on beverage design and planning at establishments all over New York City. Many of his iconic cocktails have been featured in Edible Manhattan, Cosmo, Zoomer, Healthyish, and several other top publications.

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