We’ve all worked outside of our job descriptions before. You know the times, when your boss needs something done and doesn’t know who else to ask. Hey, pick up that box…Cook these books…Fire Janet. Normally, these requests are not pleasant. For you or Janet.
And although the work required to draft this blog post certainly fell outside of my job description, it was far from unpleasant.
My mission? To sample (read: finish) five specialty cocktails from different restaurants across Universal CityWalk.
My only qualifications? Former bartender in college and current regular at TGIFridays in Kissimmee. Having beat out the competition (no one else wanted to work late), I set course for CityWalk—sufficiently hydrated—with pen and pad in hand.
I have my own tastes in adult beverages. Most of them come without ice or mixers. But for the sake of limiting bias, I deferred to the bartenders for drink recommendations. I asked each to prepare me a signature cocktail that was not only popular with guests, but that also paired well with the menu.
Here’s the list of must-try specialty cocktails at five of CityWalk’s hottest restaurants.
Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food – The Antorita
My first stop was Antojitos, the delicious and eclectic Mexican restaurant with killer esquites asados. The keyword here? Mexican, which meant it was an easy choice for Phil the bartender. I’d be sampling the Antorita, the Antojitos take on the classic margarita – with a couple twists.
Most notably, the addition of agave nectar, which really helped take the power out of the sour. Gran Gala is another secret to a great margarita. This one is really well balanced – not too sweet, not too sour. Which means you can have seconds, right?
Ingredients: Corazon Tequila, Cointreau Triple Sec, Gran Gala Orange-flavored Brandy, Agave Nector, Fresh-squeezed Lime Juice, Garnished with Salt, Lime Wedge and Orange Wheel
Vivo Italian Kitchen – The Barrel Aged
After a Mexican classic at Antojitos, I figuratively headed across the pond to Vivo Italian Kitchen. When I laid out my task to the bartender, Roger, he didn’t hesitate with a drink recommendation.
He immediately turned to the miniature wooden cask behind the bar and started pouring what he called The Barrel Aged. This might have been the most unique drink I encountered on my solo pub crawl.
And what set it off for me was the garnish—an orange peel studded with cloves, which provided a depth to the cocktail that was equal parts perplexing and delicious. Coupled with the in-house barrel-aged Old Forester, this Vivo-inspired homage to the Manhattan would make the perfect digestif.
Ingredients: House-aged Old Forester Bourbon, Tuaca Vanilla Citrus Liqueur, Sweet Vermouth, Simple Syrup, Garnished with a Clove-studded Orange Peel
The Cowfish – The Ruby Panther
Two of my favorite foods—burgers and sushi—collide on one menu at The Cowfish. So, when I checked out the drink list and found they hadn’t combined two of my favorite drinks—Guinness and Maker’s Mark—I was a little let down.
But, my disappointment quickly faded when Christina the bartender served me up a muddled raspberry concoction called The Ruby Panther. Think vodka-lemonade meets Pinterest. I felt like a college girl who’d just pledged to her favorite sorority.
Nothing can beat this drink on a hot summer day (or paired with a Firecracker Roll. Yeah, go with the Firecracker Roll).
Ingredients: Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka (Gluten-free), Simple Syrup, Fresh-squeezed Lime Juice, Pink Lemonade, Six (6) Muddled Raspberries, Garnished with a Lime Wheel and Raspberries
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. – The Bubba’s Blue Hawaiian
Let me spell out a highly effective formula for ordering a delicious specialty cocktail.
Is the establishment named after a person? Is there also a drink on the menu named after that person? Then order it.
Lucky for me, the bartenders at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. must subscribe to the same school of thought. Before I could even finish my hilarious “quality control” shtick, a flash of neon blue caught my eye.
This was The Bubba’s Blue Hawaiian. And with four different liquors, it packed the punch of a Long Island Iced Tea with the attitude of a guy who lives on a sailboat. It’s a laidback party in a glass (even in a specialty glass, for just a few bucks more).
Ingredients: Vodka, Rum, Gin, Blue Curacao, Pineapple Juice, Topped with Sprite, Garnished with a Lemon Wedge
Pat O’Brien’s – The Hurricane
Cue obligatory Scorpions music… Here I am! Rock you like a hurricane!
The night had reached its crescendo. As I air-guitared my way to Pat O’Brien’s, I knew what was in store for me. Almost anyone who’s patronized a Pat O’s, either in Orlando or New Orleans, has stared down the memory eraser known as The Hurricane.
Part Bacardi 151 rum, part proprietary Pat O’s hurricane mix—this is the friend you invite to the party if you really want it to pop off. Directions: sip slowly and prepare to dance.
Ingredients: Bacardi 151 Rum, Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Mix (think rum punch)
The stops I made on my escapade were just a few of the many available in CityWalk, but I think it’s fair to say that my adventure was a success. The rest will have to wait for another night. Maybe after that conversation with Janet.
How about you? What’s your favorite adult beverage at CityWalk? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers!
Editor’s note: Folks, don’t forget to be responsible with your alcohol. Jimmy sampled all five drinks in one night with “sampled” being the key word. At CityWalk, some venues require 21 years and older with a valid ID required. And never drink and drive because it’s never worth it.