Travel & Leisure Travel, Food & Drink Vineyards & Wine

Raise Your Glass: 4 Memorable Wine and Cocktail Experiences

Whether wine’s your thing or you prefer gin, Luxury Defined rounds up four extraordinary drinking experiences in the U.S.A, France, and Wales

As thoughts turn to better weather, planning vacations, and the year ahead, you might find inspiration in a bespoke wine retreat in France, limited-edition botanical gins in Wales, special negronis in Tennessee, or a creative cocktail in Brooklyn—the possibilities are enticing.

Wine lovers seeking a vacation that offers the chance to indulge in their passion should bookmark Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa. Open year-round in the heart of the Luberon, it has a series of rooms and suites, as well as a bastide (a mini manor house) that sleeps 14.

Bottles of wine and a cheeseboard
Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa has three restaurants and two bars, each with their own style. Chefs Aurélien Trousse, bronze medalist at France’s 2019 Dessert Championships, and Thierry Enderlin work together to take diners on a culinary journey. Courtesy: Gilles Trillard.

Wine-Focused Weekends 

Guests can savor Tramontanes and Tempestas in the Aureto tasting room at Coquillade, and wine-focused weekends are available. The Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa Wine Weekend, for example, takes in the organic wines of Château de Mille and the Château la Canorgue in Bonnieux—the location for Ridley Scott’s A Good Year.

There’s also the chance to experience the secrets of Châteauneuf-du-Pape estates, including a wine and chocolate pairing workshop. As the day draws to a close, enjoy dinner at Avelan, the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant.

Negroni cocktail in clear glass on a bar
Brother Wolf, created by owners Aaron Thompson and Jessica King, offers small snacks and lower-proof cocktails, and marks the first time an aperitivo bar has opened in Knoxville, Tennessee. Courtesy: Tom Bell Blankenship.

A Classic Aperitivo Cocktail

How do you like your negroni? Classic? Spicy? With a dash of mescal? All these variations and more are available at Brother Wolf, the first ever negroni bar in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Conceived as a “love letter to Italy,” the bar was founded by Aaron Thompson and Jessica “Rabbit” King—the former is a certified sommelier with 25 years of experience, the latter is a master mixologist.

The pair became enchanted with the negroni, and Italy’s aperitivo culture, during a vacation to Europe. They describe Brother Wolf as cultivating an atmosphere that fosters “long conversations fueled by long drinks.” King has created a menu of 24 classic aperitivo cocktails, while Thompson has sourced 32 wines.

The bar features a large neon Brother Wolf sign and a wall devoted to a mural created by a local Knoxville artist. Sharing plates and pasta dishes are served courtesy of Milan-born chef Amalia Brusati.

Bottle of hibernation gin and cocktail glass
Dyfi in Wales is home to Dyfi Distillery. The area boasts some of the most diverse flora, cleanest water, and lowest population numbers in Europe. It is recognised by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve—the only one in Wales.

Visit the Distillery and Try for Yourself

A visit to a gin bar in the Basque Country inspired Danny Cameron to set up the award-winning Dyfi Distillery in Corris, Wales. Cameron, an experienced wine and spirits professional, and his brother Pete, a hill farmer, forager, and beekeeper, worked on creating a series of small-batch gins that reflect the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve where they are produced, using 28 locally foraged botanicals.

The range includes Dyfi Original Gin, which contains locally foraged botanicals including Scot’s pine tips and bog myrtle, also known as sweet gale, combined with juniper, coriander, and unwaxed lemon peel. It’s a great base for a martini cocktail or a classic G&T.

And then there’s Pollination Gin, with botanicals including wildflowers, aromatic leaves, fruits, and conifer tips, and Hibernation Gin, influenced by the wild fruit harvest, which features wild crab apples, blackberries, and bilberries.

Finally, bottling at 57% alcohol by volume, Navigation Gin offers something different from the rest of the range. Described as an alliance between seafaring tradition and maritime botany, the brothers combine hand-foraged coastal botanicals with exotic overseas spices.

Production is limited by necessity, with each bottle hand signed and batch numbered. If choosing sounds tricky, you can visit in person. There’s no need to book, simply turn up for a chat with the family, taste the gins, and take a peek into the distillery.

View of the Bathhouse bar and restaurant
Bathhouse includes dry and tropical saunas, a starlight steam room, and three thermal pools. Visit the Bathhouse Kitchen to try a selection of seasonable plates. Courtesy: Adrian Gaut.

Sustainable Wines and Creative Cocktails

Brooklyn’s Bathhouse bills itself as “the anti-spa spa experience.” You won’t hear faux whale song here. Instead, you’ll find massages that are more sports locker room than spiritual journey, invigorating body scrubs, saunas, and steam rooms. The spa’s mission is to be “a home for people who strive to look, feel, and perform their very best.”

Housed within a converted factory in the heart of Williamsburg, there’s a café, too—Bathhouse Kitchen—which serves a seasonal menu, sustainable wines, and creative cocktails. Choose from the gin-based Bathhouse Bloom, Five Spot, which includes tequila, lime, and absinthe, and Tropical Sauna, featuring mezcal, chili, and spicy salt: your only decision is which cocktail to try first. If you’re feeling indecisive on the food front, opt for the Chef’s Tasting Dinner and beverage pairing, and let them surprise you.

Banner image: Dyfi Distillery’s Pollination Gin