Drinking at an All-Inclusive Resort

So you’ve just booked yourself one of those all-inclusive resort vacations. Maybe your cousin (or more likely an aunt or uncle) has decided that you are invited to their destination wedding. Or maybe you just need someone else to cook your food for you for a while. Whatever your reason for travelling to another country to stay somewhere that has almost nothing to do with the country that it is in, you might want to drink. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t be on this site if you weren’t into drinking.

Drinking at a Resort | Bartender Atlas

Here’s the thing, the now ubiquitous cocktail revolution in North America, Europe, Australia, parts of Africa and Central America, hasn’t really hit the all-inclusives and cruise ships yet. But fear not! We at Bartender Atlas just spent a week at an all-inclusive resort in Antigua and we have some advice for you.

To start, please remember that a lot of these resorts are beholden to whatever exclusive deals the owners/chains have worked out with sometimes giant liquor companies. That said, it never hurts to ask the bartender about whatever local spirits they might have behind the bar. If nothing back there sticks out, just relax (that’s why you’re there, right?).

Drinking at a Resort | Bartender Atlas
Frozen Drinks. The people behind these bars have probably made more frozen drinks than your favourite bartender at your favourite bar has made glasses of water. This doesn’t mean that the drinks won’t be overly sweet or garnished with the “cherries” we don’t speak of anymore, but you might find a gem or two coming out of that blender. Regardless, it seems rude to not try a house special, right?

Drinking at a Resort | Bartender Atlas
Beer is always a safe bet at a resort. Odds are the beer on offer is something light and almost colourless. Great! You don’t want to sit and savour it anyway, it’s 41 degrees (celsius!) outside. Beer is mostly water and your chances of passing out after 4 or 5 (see: before the dinner buffet) are slim.  You will probably be served your beer in a half-pint sized glass (if you didn’t bring your own reusable cup, which you should because the environment). That’s a good thing. Don’t fear the teeny size and decide to double up your order, beer at resorts is served in little cups for a reason. If this was a 20 ounce pour, your beer would be 20 degrees before you got to the bottom of it. Yuck. Small beers also mean extra trips to the bar from the beach that might just save your day.

Drinking at a Resort | Bartender Atlas
Rum and Soda. As mentioned, we are basing this on our recent trip to Antigua. There are beautiful rums in Antigua and combining them with mangoes, oranges, sugar and blue stuff may not be (is definitely not) the best way to enjoy them. As well, straight spirit in Caribbean heat can go south really fast. So here we have a compromise: rum and soda will give you the kick you want from the booze while also giving you some water to cool you off and keep you hydrated (depending on the soda of course). Bonus: you don’t need a straw (more on that in a minute) to drink these. Unless you are wearing lipstick at the beach, in which case…what?

Drinking at a Resort | Bartender Atlas

Bubbles. Not many resorts will offer high quality sparkling wines, or if they do, they might not be included in the whole package but some will, including The Verandah Resort in Antigua where we lounged for the past week. However regardless of the quality, we have good news everyone: MIMOSAS! While relegated to brunch anywhere else in the world, you’re in vacation town! Throw some OJ on your bubbles and you’re off to the races. Bonus tip: if you aren’t so concerned about sugar content, throw some strawberry liqueur in that bad boy. Delicious.

Drinking at a Resort | Bartender Atlas

Cocktails. You may find that there will be a house cocktail each day at your resort. The beauty you see above is the proprietary Rum Punch. We never asked what was inside but there was definitely orange and mango juices, some cinnamon and nutmeg, and a bunch (Antiguan Measurement System) of rum. While having three or four of these in a row will lead to rough morning, they are are delicious and again, you should probably try to the house special, you know, to be polite. Your resort may have their own cocktail menu, our advice is to skip ordering any classics as you will be definitely be disappointed in that vermouth that has been sitting on the bar in the heat all week/month/year.


Drinking at a Resort | Bartender Atlas

Straws. Here is something the rest of the world needs to get behind. The resort we stayed at (The Verandah Resort) had a “Straws by Request” policy. That Garbage Island in the Pacific isn’t getting any smaller (despite the efforts of Adidas *) and if you haven’t seen the “Sea Turtle with a Straw in it’s Nose” video, google that and be horrified. That said, do not be horrified to drink without a straw. Embrace it and relax.

There you have it, some resort drinking tips. Have fun on your next vacation!


*Hi Adidas! The author of this post wears a size 10 Men’s running shoe, just sayin’. Hi Adidas!

Josh Lindley
Co-Creator at Bartender Atlas
Josh Lindley has been bartending in Toronto since 2007. Before working for Hendrick's Gin as a Brand Ambassador he was bar manager at Campagnolo and a hired gun at Bar Isabel before working at Chantecler, Le Phenix and Eataly. He has contributed to many magazines, tv shows and newspapers with his recipes and opinions. He recently put his diploma in Radio Broadcasting from Humber College to good use through The Blackbird audio documentary. Currently pouring at Civl Liberties and teaching cocktail classes for Evelyn Chick's Love of Cocktails, he enjoys being an ambassador to Toronto and talking about horror movies, punk rock and basketball.
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