When The Langham Boston began considering expanding its cocktail program, there was no question about which spirit best captured the iconic hotel’s history and style—gin. The drink is a nod to The Langham’s flagship hotel in London as well as the history of its own architectural landmark—the original Federal Reserve Bank of Boston which was built in 1922 and now houses the hotel. But the signature Reserve Gin that The Langham developed in partnership with Bully Boy Distillers—Boston’s first craft distillery founded by brother Will and Dave Willis—is a far cry from what the hotel’s food and beverage director, Alex Valencia calls, “old-school London dry gin style.” The Langham’s new handcrafted spirit and cocktail program puts a fresh twist on old classics, not only in the way it incorporates honey and tea into drinks, but also through its approach to balancing a classic brand with trends in consumer tastes.
“We were looking for a way to really differentiate our diverse program at the hotel,” Valencia explains. “We saw that custom spirits was an area that really hadn’t been explored in general by luxury hotels in this market, so we saw the opportunity.” As previously noted, the idea of gin harkens back to the company’s British heritage—the idea to partner with Bully Boy is a more contemporary take. Aside from the importance of having a local and recognized partner, Bully Boy’s values aligned with The Langham’s commitment to quality and local ingredients, making them a good fit, Valencia says. When developing the gin, it was important to The Langham to create a product that would be approachable to gin enthusiasts and non-gin drinkers alike.
“We definitely found a beautiful balance on the botanicals,” Valencia says. “We asked for grapefruit to be one of the top citrus profiles.” Juniper—typically gin’s defining flavor profile—is present, but the Reserve Gin highlights citrus flavors, and also includes the spice “grains of paradise,” floral notes of lavender and hibiscus, and orris root to balance juniper’s piney flavor. Aside from on the bottle’s label, The Langham incorporated its brand into the flavor profile with its signature scent, ginger blossom, as well as rose petals. The ginger blossom scent and Pink roses are elements present in the company’s hotel lobbies across the world, as well as on its Wedgwood China.
The Langham’s cocktail program is offered to guests and visitors in its fine-dining restaurant and cocktail lounge—BOND restaurant | lounge. The menu includes “Batch No. 1 Classics”—classic gin cocktails, like the gin martini with grapefruit rind twist—and “Reserve Gin & Tonics”—cocktails with quirky twists like the Pink Taxi, which combines Reserve Gin with strawberry jam, muddled pink peppercorns, and Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic. Those flavors also reference The Langham’s signature Afternoon Tea with Wedgewood at The Reserve, which offers its own gin cocktail infused with The Langham’s proprietary Palm Court Tea. That large format cocktail for two, called the “G&Tea,” is presented in a two-level glass teapot with the tea and gin infusion on top and, on the bottom, a mix of lemon, soda water, and honey from Cambridge, Mass.-based Follow the Honey, another local partner of The Lanham’s.
The beverage program is part of an overall effort by the hotel to innovate in a way that will resonate with the brand long-term. While local partnerships, quirky flavor combinations, and handcrafted offerings may be trending now, Valencia says that the Langham’s F&B strategy is more longterm.
“I think it’s always been in our culture to really be attentive, listen to guests’ needs, and try to intuitive as possible, and act on it,” Valencia says. “I think it’s something that we already do and it’s in our service culture to try to be ahead of the game and on top of trends.”
Pictured (top to bottom): “Pink Taxi” and “G&Tea” (Photo Credit to Sonya Highfield Photography)