Around the World with Our Favorite Libations


We travel a lot for business. We travel a lot for pleasure. And occasionally we travel just for a cocktail or two. Here are a dozen must-have beverages from some of our favorite destinations.

Pina Coladas in Key West, Florida
It was a hot August night, and we had just about melted into the sidewalk from our walk around town. The sun was going down, so we hurriedly ordered a piña colada at a bar on the boardwalk so we could catch the green flash of the sun slipping below the horizon — with glass in hand. This was Bob’s introduction to the classic, coconut flavored delight, and he was hooked.

Mai Tais in Laguna Beach, California
When we were dating, we would meet on the ocean front patio at the Laguna Beach Hotel for their famous mai tai cocktails. They are delicious and dangerous, meaning you have to pace yourself. Enjoying this fruity concoction on a warm summer evening, while watching frolicking dolphins in the water below us, was a favorite way of relaxing and getting to know each other.

Martinis in New York City, New York
The King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel features a large mural by Maxfield Parrish that is based on the old nursery rhyme. Conversation with patrons at nearby tables is always fun in this somewhat moody, quiet, and elegant hot spot. A martini served very dry and very cold is our idea of a classy cocktail. We are martini connoisseurs, you know. Jim is gin, Bob is vodka.

Pints on the Thames in London
You can’t go to London and not have a pint on the Thames. We’re in London on a regular basis, and our place with a view and no attitude is the Tameris Dock restaurant and bar, just across from the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel on the Albert Embankment. The floating gathering spot is actually an old boat that raises and lowers with the tides. If you stay long enough, you may hit bottom, or start swaying with the current. Steady as she goes, mate!

Pisco Sours in Peru
The Machu Picchu Hotel at Aguas Calientes in the rain forest of Peru is the ultimate luxury getaway spot. A good friend of ours owns this jewel of Peru. We soak up his hospitality and the pisco sours that are served on the secluded stone patio next to the rapid waters of the Urubamba River. A little sour, a little sweet, this cocktail hits the spot if you’re looking for a unique drink after hiking around the Machu Picchu ruins. Think if it as a cousin of the margarita.

Dark & Stormy in Bermuda
Perhaps best known as the “national drink” of Bermuda, the Dark & Stormy is a highball cocktail that is trademarked by Gosling’s Export Limited of Bermuda. A sweet blend of bubbly ginger beer and dark rum swirling like a storm in a glass, this luscious libation served over ice is very refreshing after a walk around the historic town of Hamilton.

Vino de la Casa in Barcelona, Spain
One of our favorite things to do in Barcelona is tapas bar hopping. Of course, one needs to stay “hydrated” on these excursions, so we always sample the bar’s vino de la casa, or “house wine.” Sometimes it’s a hit, and sometimes it’s a miss, but it’s always fun to try. Unless you speak Spanish or Catalan, you never really know what you’re going to get when you order a tapa appetizer, so a little vino helps the tapa go down.

Vodka shots in Novgorod, Russia
One of our first trips together was to Russia, and the city of Novgorod was a highlight. We should fess up and say our time spent in a little hole-in-the-wall “restaurant” was what we remember most about Novgorod. We got to know some of the locals through the international language of vodka. Boy, can those babushkas drink! Vodka makes the world a little smaller, or does it make the world spin faster?

A wee bit of whisky in Scotland
Scotland is a favorite, and so is the whisky produced there. We once stayed in Inverness at the Culloden House Hotel, a place that features a very comprehensive whisky tasting bar. We tasted and tasted, and would have tasted more, except we found out that some of the shots were upwards of £50 each. Just so you know, in the U.S. it’s whiskey, in Scotland it’s whisky. In both places, it’s fantastic. May we suggest that in Scotland you order your whisky with one ice cube or just a wee bit of water to bring out the flavor? That’s what the whisky barista told us, anyway.

Negronis in Venice
One third gin, one third Campari, one third sweet vermouth, with a slice of orange to garnish, creates a little bit of Italian heaven in a glass. A negroni on the canal-side terrace at the Gritti Palace Hotel has to be one of our all-time-favorite travel cocktails. There is something about the bitter bite of that first negroni sip, juxtaposed with the magic of the Grand Canal in Venice, that takes you to another glorious world.

Champagne in Paris
Nothing says Paris like a flute of cold bubbly. We have a favorite café on the Île Saint-Louis in Paris. It’s the one on the corner at the end of the Pont Saint-Louis bridge, just across from the Île de la Cité where Notre Dame majestically sits. Sipping champagne, nibbling ripe strawberries, and watching the boats glide down the Seine is Parisian heaven.

Tequila tasting in Mexico City
We recently stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mexico City and became very acquainted with their luxurious bar. Our attention quickly turned to the tequila tasting menu, and our choices were arranged by type: the plata or blanco group of newly distilled tequilas; reposado for something a little more aged, subtle, and expensive; or the budget-blowing, extra-aged añejo tequilas. We tried small samples from all three groups on our first go-around, and then stuck to the reposada group when the buzz started to kick in. Remember, the better the tequila, the milder the headache the next morning.

Every place has its own special drink, and we always make it a point to sample the best a destination has to offer. It’s all part of the travel experience.


JIM BURBA AND BOB HAYES For more than 25 years, Jim Burba and Bob Hayes have been partners in life and business. Co-founders of Burba Hotel Network and Burba Hayes LLC, this couple has formed a power partnership that produces conferences for the hotel investment community, feature films, and an upcoming Broadway musical. Since 2000, their conferences have attracted nearly 90,000 international delegates in 22 countries. Their book, Smart Partners will be published by SelectBooks (New York) in early 2016. Follow them on Twitter @BurbaHayes or at