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Wine & Cocktail Tourism: Drink in the World

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Most booze enthusiasts know about major drink destinations like the Napa wine valley and Germany’s Bavaria for beer. However, TPG Contributor Spencer Spellman of cocktail/travel site Whiskey Tango Globetrot wants to splash a few other hotspots in your glass—so please join him for a tour below of some of the best cocktail tourism destinations around the world.

Wild Turkey Visitor Center
Wild Turkey’s new Visitor Center. Photo courtesy of Wild Turkey.

Kentucky

An American landmark, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail features many of the most recognized bourbon brands in the world, such as Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, and Maker’s Mark. While a trip along the Trail is easily self-planned, you could also let its only dedicated tour company, Kentucky Bourbon Distillery Tours, do all the work. As the popularity of bourbon grows, recent years have seen the rise of trail variations like the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, which highlights smaller craft distilleries like Old Pogue, Corsair, and MB Roland, and the Urban Bourbon Trail, located in Louisville (SDF), where you can drink all of these bourbons and more at local haunts like Haymarket Whiskey Bar.

Where to stay: Set a few blocks from the Ohio River, the 393-room Hyatt Regency Louisville has an indoor heated pool and serves Southern cuisine in its on-site restaurant, Sway. Rooms at this Category 3 property start at $299 or 12,000 Gold Passport points per night.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop in New Orlean
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans. Photo by Wally Gobetz on Flickr.

New Orleans

America’s cocktail history is rooted in New Orleans, and among the recipes invented here are the Sazerac, the Brandy Crusta, and the Ramos Gin Fizz—just to name a few. It follows naturally, then, that some of America’s best cocktail bars can also be found in the city, including 18th-century Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the country’s oldest structure built as a bar; Cure, a firehouse-turned-cocktail bar set on Freret Street; and Arnaud’s French 75, which opened in 1983 with a classic style designed to match the adjacent Arnaud’s Restaurant, opened in 1918. Each summer, New Orleans is also home to Tales of the Cocktail, considered the world’s premier cocktail festival. Any time of year, whether you’re a novice or experienced cocktail drinker, take the New Orleans’ Original Cocktail Walking Tour to get a first-hand experience of the history of cocktails in The Big Easy.

For more on what to do in town, see Destination of the Week: New Orleans.

Where to stay: Not far from the French Quarter, the elegant, 484-room InterContinental New Orleans hosts two restaurants—one including a cocktail lounge, of course—and a rooftop pool overlooking the city. Rooms start at either $271.50, 40,000 IHG Rewards + $70, or 50,000 IHG Rewards points. Be sure to also see The Points Guy’s review of The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans.

De Halve Maan Brewery
The view of Brugge atop a tour of De Halve Maan Brewery. Photo by Jim Linwood on Flickr.

Belgium

Belgium and beer have long gone hand-in-hand, since production here dates all the way back to the 1100s. Today, it’s home to nearly 200 breweries, comparable in size to the state of Maryland. A beer-themed trip in Belgium should begin in the capital, Brussels, with an internationally famous Delirium Tremens at brewpub/village Délirium Café, which features the largest beer menu in the world, with more than 2,000 different brands. Brussels is also home to a number of other breweries and beer museums, including Cantillon Brewery, a family-owned brewery making lambic beers that are often sour in character. If you only have a day, then take a tour with Brussels Beer Tours, which visits Cantillon and several other Brussels beer landmarks.

A one-hour train ride from Brussels is Brugge, an important town in the history of Belgian beermaking, with attractions like De Halve Maan Brewery, where the Maes family has been brewing for centuries and tours are now offered, and Staminee De Garre, a Belgian beer cafe down an alley off the main square where they serve you a bowl of cheese with your beer.

Where to stay: Set in the heart of the European quarter, the artsy, fun and modern Aloft Brussels Schuman has its own sleek lobby bar where you can knock back some brews and play some pool. Rooms start at 71 Euros ($81)  or 10,000 SPG Starpoints. Also see our reviews on the Hotel Stanhope Brussels and The Dominican Brussels.

Saint James Distillery
Saint James Distillery. Photo by Franck Bonelli on Flickr.

Martinique

Home to one of the highest concentrations of rum distilleries in the world, Martinique’s rum tourism is comparable to France’s wine tourism—an appropriate comparison, as this Caribbean island is a region of France and makes the world’s only rum designated  by the appellation d’origine contrôlée (A.O.C.). Martinique’s rhum agricole, made with cane juice rather than molasses, is produced by distilleries found throughout the island. St. James dates back to 1765 and features a museum and free tours, while Habitation Clément, includes tours and tastings but is also home to a botanical garden and art gallery. Make sure your drink tour of Martinique includes a stop on the beach at Le Petibonum, where you can try many of Martinique’s local rums, as well as Ti’Punch, a popular island drink with Martinique rum, lime, and cane syrup.

Where to stay: Martinique has next to nothing in the way of points hotels, but the completely renovated, 96-room Hotel La Pagerie, set amidst a tropical garden, might just take away this sting with its two bars (one by the pool), on-site spa, and close proximity to the beach at Pointe du Bout, in the town of Trois-Ilets. Rooms start at 273.60 Euros ( $311) a night.

Spier Winery South Africa
Spier Wine Farm. Photo by Danie van der Merwe on Flickr.

South Africa

While South Africa brings to mind sweeping landscapes and wild animals, it’s also home to one of the more under-the-radar, quickly-trending wine regions on Earth—even though they’ve actually been producing wine since the mid-1600s. The country’s most prominent region is the Cape Winelands, consisting of the Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Franschhoek valleys, all of which can be accessed from Cape Town in as quick as 30 minutes to an hour.

A good starting place is Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch, a multi-purpose wine destination with a farm, winery, restaurant, and hotel. From here, there are a number of wineries within 10-15 minutes, like Neethlingshof Wine Estate, dating back to 1705, and the award-winning Mulderbosch Vineyards. Cape Town tour company DC Tours offers a variety of different types of wine tours, while Cape Town Wine Tours specializes in wine tours, with everything from one-day cheese and wine tours to three-day excursions around the Cape Winelands.

Where to stay: Cape Town is one of The Points Guy’s favorite destinations, so be sure to see his reviews of the Park Inn Cape Town, the Hilton Cape Town, and the Westin Cape Town. Note also that South Africa’s Protea Hotels have joined Marriott Rewards.

Ever traveled somewhere just to taste your favorite beverage? In the comments below, please let us know where!

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