One of the joys I’ve found journeying into the world of spirits is the kindness and communal attitude of those I’ve sought out for info and advice. Most are more than willing to lend me their time, wisdom, and support. For that reason, in the true spirit of gin, I will be interweaving features from other gurus and gin advocates within the stories of my personal gin-ventures.
Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Guy Hutchinson about his glorious podcast Drunk on Disney. I’ve always loved both Disney World and Land, but never thought I’d be able to combine this love with my love of gin. I was wrong.
Every week on Drunk on Disney, Dana Snyder (voice actor on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Disney’s Fish Hooks, and Epic Mickey 2) chats with fellow “Disney nerds” Guy Hutchinson and Bart Scott as they try out a different Disney signature drink each episode. Grab the ingredients and you can play at home as you listen to them chat about Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney movies and whatever else comes to mind.
Without further ado, the rest of this post is all Guy Hutchinson:
The Magic Kingdoms of Gin
People who aren’t regular Disney park visitors don’t usually understand the correlation between Disney and alcohol. Many non-visitors assume there is no booze behind the Mouse’s gates.
They are wrong.
It’s no surprise, really. Walt Disney himself was rather fond of drinking. He loved Mint Juleps and drank a Scotch Mist regularly at the end of the work day.
But why serve hard liquor at a place full of screaming children? BECAUSE IT’S FULL OF SCREAMING CHILDREN!
Disney serves alcohol (in some form or other) in EVERY ONE of its U.S. parks.
We will get to all of that. But first, let’s make a gin drink!
1¼ ounces gin
1¼ ounces pineapple juice
1¼ ounces orange juice
1 ounce grenadine
½ ounce lemon bar mix
1½ ounces heavy cream
¾ cup crushed ice
Directions: Mix gin, fruit juices, grenadine, lemon bar mix, and heavy cream in a blender with ice. Blend for 10 seconds. Pour into a tall glass. Garnish with orange slice and cherry.
This is a classic Disney drink and named after one of Walt Disney World’s famous monorails. There were several different monorail drinks—Monorail Purple, Monorail Yellow, Monorail Red—that were served for many years at the Top of the World, the supper club that for many years featured top celebrity entertainment, dancing and fine cocktails. It closed in the early 1990s. Today there is a Top of the World Lounge in another location at Walt Disney World, but it’s not the same place.
To tell a brief history of alcoholic beverages in Disney Parks we must go back to the very first park, Disneyland, in fabulous Anaheim, California.
Disneyland has a private (and outrageously expensive) club named Club 33. Walt decided to create the restaurant after spending time at the 1963-64 World’s Fair where he noticed the fantastic V.I.P. lounges where corporations wooed their clients.
But even before that, there was already booze in this park, so to speak. The Pirates of the Caribbean sang “drink up me hearties, yo ho,” and we all know the clowns got Dumbo and Timothy smashed on champagne before he took flight.
But guests had no chance to imbibe until Walt’s idea for what became Club 33.
Sadly, Walt passed away a year before Club 33 opened. Disneyland continues to serve alcohol in Club 33 but also has a park-wide liquor license and will serve alcohol for private parties.
If you can get into Club 33, you’ll see that they have a full bar. I hear the Bombay Sapphire Gin Martini is great, by the way.
And if you can’t afford the membership fee to Club 33, no worries! Disneyland has another park about three-hundred feet away called Disney’s California Adventure. The gem of Disney’s California Adventure is the Carthay Circle. Modeled after a long-gone movie palace from the glory days of Hollywood, the Carthay is about as high-end as Disney gets. It’s odd to see tourists in tank tops in such a pristine establishment, but maybe that’s what makes it so much fun.
They make a fine Pimm’s Punch. You can make your own by mixing ½ – 1 oz. Pimm’s No. 1 Liqueur, ½ oz. Plymouth gin, and 4 oz. strawberry lemonade. Pour in a glass and garnish with a strawberry.
They also make some mighty fine Gin Martinis with large crystal-clear ice globes to keep them cold.
If you haven’t had enough yet, there are some great bars at the nearby Disney hotels. The greatest of these (and in the running for the greatest of all Disney bars) is Trader Sam’s. This amazing tiki oasis has some of the finest rum drinks you can imagine. Gin lovers may want to go off menu and ask for a Suffering Bastard, which has gin mixed in with several fine rums.
Hop across the country to Orlando, Florida, and most trips start off at Magic Kingdom. This park was totally teetotaling when it opened in 1971. Then, in 2012, they announced the addition of wines and beers to the Be Our Guest restaurant’s dinner offerings.
For gin, however, you must go elsewhere.
The first (and most obvious) choice for gin drinks is EPCOT Center. EPCOT’s World Showcase is a collection of mini countries, each with their own culture, their own cuisine, and their own cocktails.
Go to the United Kingdom for an English Rose made with Beefeater Gin. Then jaunt over to Japan where you can get a Sake Martini with vodka or gin. Heck, they even do an event every year called EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival, where dozens of other nations are added in the form of beautifully themed food trucks.
At Food and Wine you can get a wonderful Singapore Sling made with Hendrick’s Gin, and then head over to the American section of the park where a wonderful amphitheater features top acts from the past performing their hits.
You might even see the Gin Blossoms.
Animal Kingdom park has several bars including a Rainforest Cafe which, despite their desire to put the putrid 99 Bananas Liquor in everything, makes some fine cocktails and stocks some tasty gins.
Last of the parks, but not last of the gin, is Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The finest place for gin here is the opulent Brown Derby. Much like the Carthay on the West Coast, this is pure class. Get a gin and tonic with your favorite brand and sit and admire the famous caricatures on the wall.
Top the night off at one of the numerous hotel bars. One of my favorites is the Turf Club at the Saratoga Springs resort. The gin-fueled Three Minutes to Post Time is a favorite of mine.
Walt Disney World uses “World” in its name and often you do indeed feel like you have left Earth and gone to a separate planet. It’s a little of the past, a little of the future, and a lot of gin.
Guy Hutchinson has worked as a radio talk-show host and personality on WHWH and WMGQ radio in New Jersey, and is currently the co-host of the podcasts Drunk on Disney, Adventure Club, Flux Capaci-cast, and Camel Clutch Cinema. Over the years he has interviewed Mick Foley, Bernie Kopell, Andy Richter, Bebe Neuwirth, Joe Camp, Marvin Kaplan, Robbie Rist and many other entertainment figures. A blogger since 2004, Guy blogs irregularly on bunchojunk.com and is the sole correspondent for the Ken PD Snydecast Experience. You can follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, and find links to all of his work on guyhutchinson.com.