When it comes to drinks, ‘do it yourself’ at Acme Hotel

Guests get to keep an Acme Hotel Company shaker when they buy the kit. The kits retail for $18 each.

CHICAGO— In Chi-town there are a plethora of bars and clubs where hotel guests can socialize, but sometimes, the guest just wants to enjoy his or her room alone…with a few refreshments from the minibar.

Understanding the pleasure some guests find in the minibar, Acme Hotel Company has given guests another option: a Do It Yourself (DIY) kit. Created in conjunction with Cocktail Courier, a New York-based online company, the kit allows guests to make themselves a drink from the comfort of their guestroom. Each kit contains a recipe and all the ingredients for a specially crafted beverage. Cocktail Courier packages and delivers the kits to customers on a one-time or subscription basis. 

The drink they are currently serving up is a “flavorful gin cocktail,” Brent Hinton, director of sales for Acme Hotel Company said. “It’s not something you can go to the bar and order; it’s not like a gin and tonic.” The ingredients in the current DIY kit include two airplane bottles of Tanqueray gin; distilled sherry with a lemon squeeze; Mexican agave syrup; and a star of anise, as garnish.

“It comes with everything you need, which is fantastic,” Hinton said of the custom, specalized cocktail kit . It makes two drinks and retails at $18 per kit, which is $9 per drink in a town were the average cost of a cocktail is $12. He pointed out that everything in the kit is premeasured so all the guest needs to do is combine the listed ingredients and mix them together.

“It’s a nice twist on the minibar to enhance the guest experience,” said Hinton.  The hotel’s goal was to create a fun, in-room experience for the guest by using the minibar as a starting point. From there, Acme decided to use the DIY kit as its newest signature amenity.

“We are living in a DIY culture. Everyone wants to do their own thing nowadays,” Hinton said. The shaker is a mason jar with the Acme logo on top. Inside the box are instructions for guests to make the two Urban Jungle drinks, which is a name for the gin cocktail that was created by the staff at Acme Hotel Company. “Cocktail Courier had names proposed but our staff here wanted to make it an Acme-fun name,” Hinton said.

“If this takes off, we see ourselves changing the cocktail seasonally,” Hinton said of future plans. “We wanted to see how this does first.” Cocktail Courier will provide DIY drink kits on a weekly basis; a subscription service will bring customers their drinks based on their preferences.

Instead of creating a signature DIY kit on their own, Acme Hotel Company chose to team up with Cocktail Courier because it is staffed with professional bartenders who create the drinks based on flavor and the alcoholic beverages that work best together. ”We’re not bartenders here; we’re hoteliers,” Hinton said.

He said Acme rolled out the DIY kits in late June and the promotion is steadily taking off. “I don’t know exact sales but I do know it is selling,” he pointed out. “It hasn’t gone gangbusters yet,” Hinton admitted of the kits, but said he believes they will sell because of the recent boom in DIY culture.

“I don’t know the demographics of the customers who are buying the drinks,” Hinton said. Users could be anyone from a couple on their honeymoon to a professional on a business trip but the common theme for all guests now is that they want to be in charge of their stay and what they do. “They don’t want to be bound by rules,” Hinton said. The DIY kits fit in with what their guests want right now, which is self-expression.

Those under 21 years old looking for a DIY kit are out of luck because there is alcohol in it. A guest has to be over 21 to rent a room at Acme because they have a minibar. “What we do if someone is under 21 is take the minibar out,” Hinton said.

An example of a popular drink on Cocktail Courier’s website is the Lavender Paloma by Ben Scorah. It includes a bottle of Don Julio reposado tequila, two bottles of grapefruit lavender cordial, lime juice, lavender bitters, club soda and a whole grapefruit. HB

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