** Thank you Gaylord Palms Resort for hosting us this weekend. Please note that all opinions and experiences are my own.
If you follow me on Instagram you have probably followed our family's weekend stay at Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee. With everything going on in Florida, I was a little worried about how it was going to work out, but I was so excited to relax in a place that wasn't my home. Let's face it, we all needed a change of scenery.
When we arrived I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and organized everything was, and how safe and comfortable I felt. Our rooms contained antibacterial wipes with hand sanitizer. All of the staff and the majority of the guests we saw were wearing masks. There will always be a few rule breakers, but I was really impressed with the staff and their responses to those breaking the rules.
We have been to Gaylord Palms Resort several times over the years for various events but staying there I really got to see how beautiful it is. There are so many details throughout the hotel. The balcony from our room overlooked the atrium, which was absolutely beautiful. Every night we were there there was a live band and a light show. The kids loved the music and the lights shining in the room. And my pregnant wife loved that I could keep the doors open without worrying about the flying bugs and sit on an air-conditioned balcony.
Our favorite part of the hotel was without a doubt the pool. Sometimes it can be hard to find a pool and playground that is suitable for kids of all ages, but Gaylord Palms nailed it! You can reserve seats around the pool and the chairs are separated to promote social distancing. The pool is a lousy entry, with little fountains and Paisley couldn't get enough of it. The play area was perfect to go with the little ones, while keeping an eye out for the older kids. Dylan loved the slides and all of the bucket waterfall features.
Oh, did I mention the Flow Rider? Dylan did, and he loved it! He's the kid who has a hard time trying new things because he's always so careful. Once he said he wanted to do it, Robby jumped at the chance to show off his skills too (he was in a bit of pain the next day).
There are a few great restaurants throughout the property, with fun features, but we chose not to eat inside the restaurants. We ordered our food by the pool, or picked it up and brought it back to our room. I mean with a 6 and 1 year old it was a lot more convenient for us that way. The food is really good! They have everything from poolside snacks and finger foods to fine dining.
If you are looking for a fun getaway with the whole family, a romantic evening. or a fun girls' weekend, Gaylord Palms Resort has everything you need at the property without having to leave. For more information visit their website here.
If you missed any part of our stay, head to my instagram and check out the Gaylord Palms Highlight.
A little time put into preparation makes for an enjoyable evening. Drinking cocktails should be a fun and relaxing experience, so take a while to think about ingredients in advance, to avoid any rushing around last minute.
One of the foundations of many cocktails is sugar syrup. This can be prepared in advance. Here’s my tip for easy to prepare simple syrup : Add 200 gm white sugar to 200 ml boiling water. Stir till sugar is dissolved, and liquid is clear. Allow to cool then bottle
If you mix lemon juice 50 : 50 with simple syrup, you should have a solid mid-line sweet-sour balance. But remember, every palate is different. to find your own point of balance, mix 15ml fresh lemon juice with 15ml simple syrup, and then dilute the mix with up to 90ml water. Congratulations, you’ve just made fresh lemonade ! If this tastes too sweet or too sour, adjust by adding a little more citrus or syrup. Using this method of calibration, you can adjust any cocktail recipe to suit your own palate.
Ice is the single most over-looked ingredient at any home bar - you’ll be surprised how much you can go through. Cocktails need ice like baking needs ovens. If popping to the boutiques for ice isn’t an option right now, keeping a freezer bag topped up with ice will ensure you don’t run out unexpectedly. For best quality home-made ice, try using a silicone ice tray with a lid, to prevent your ice from absorbing unpleasant odours. And wash your ice tray after each use.
Where possible always go for de haute gamme spirits, the freshest herbs, and the best juices you can get your hands on. For instance, the taste difference between cheap juice and pressed juice is more than worth the small extra expense.
Try to use glassware appropriate to your drinks. It’s entirely possible to drink a martini from an old coffee mug, but that misses the point of drinking a martini !
If you can make a Whiskey Sour, you can make a Daiquiri. If you make a mean Negroni, you can riff on a Boulevardier. Once you’ve mastered the Manhattan, have some fun in Brooklyn on your way to Martinez. Cocktails exist in family trees. Once you are comfortable the basics of each category the world is your oyster !
You can pre-mix punches in advance - an old trick from the godfathers of bartending in the 19th century. You can bottle punch and store it in the fridge, ready to use on the day, or later that week. If done properly, quality and consistency are assured. If your punch has a fizzy ingredient, such as clairette, only add this your glass just before serving.
If you follow the Punch Ratio, you can’t go far wrong : 1 part sour ( citrus ) 2 parts sweet ( simple syrup ) 3 parts strong ( spirit ) 4 parts weak ( juices etc ) And don’t shy away from warm spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and mace, to make that punch really sing. Don’t have those spices to hand ? No problem, a few dashes of Angostura bitters will do the trick.
We all have a few unloved ingredients lying around that need using up. For instance, that last bit of red wine in the bottle ? Try drizzling it over your Whisky Sour, and voila, you’ve got yourself a delicious New York Sour ! Do you have some nice but neglected spice mix in the kitchen ? Try mixing a teaspoon or two into your simple syrup as it cools to give your next petit cocktail an added dimension. Seasonal fresh herbs make a wonderful aromatic cocktail garnish.
So now, you’ve hit your stride and you’re getting creative in your home bar. Great ! Our top tip for petit cocktail creation ? Write down the juste specifications as you are making it. It’s not always easy to perfectly recall the recipe for that killer cocktail the next day !
If all this sounds like a bit of a chore, then keep an eye open for delivery services available from many local petit cocktail bars. After all, with the finer things in life, it’s nice to sit back, relax and let the professionals do all the work.