Interview: Royal Caribbean Director of Beverage Operations plus drink recipe to make at home
Ed Eiswirth, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line‘s Director of Beverage Operations and Innovation, knows a thing or two about vacation drinks. Coming out of the worldwide pandemic, Eiswirth knew they needed to enliven their drink menus, and he hopes to honor the Caribbean islands their ships visit by highlighting popular drinks of each isle and paying homage to ports they sail from.
In Galveston, Tex. – Royal Caribbean’s newest port – the cruise line is working to create a Texas-specific drink for those sailings, but in the meantime, they offer several Texas-based products, including Tito’s vodka from Austin and Balcones whiskey from Waco, and plan to offer more items highlighting their relationship with the Lone Star State and its people.
Attractions Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Eiswirth about the new drink menu, and we learned how to make one of their most popular drinks at home.
What was the inspiration behind the Taste of the Caribbean menu?
This [menu] idea was really born out of my time during Covid. I had this idea in my head that we spend 50 years sailing around the Caribbean; there’s gotta be a way to give tribute to all of these islands we go to, so this [menu] represents the drink that each island is known for.
Where did you come up with the names for the drinks?
The Painkiller was invented in the Virgin Islands at a bar called the Soggy Dollar for two British tourists who wanted a cure for their hangover. It’s called the Soggy Dollar because you have to swim up to it. Where it is, if you’re porting in the Virgin Islands on our ships, it is almost impossible to get to. That’s one of the reasons we chose [the drink] to represent the Virgin Islands.
We took a lot of classic cocktails and put a Caribbean spin on them. The Curacao Cosmo is a play on a Cosmopolitan, but it’s made with pineapple, coconut, and Curacao to get the blue color; the Cozumel Sunrise is a Tequila Sunrise that we’ve added mango to.
What is the most popular drink on the menu?
Passion Spritz is our number-one seller out of all the items on the new menu. Aperol Spritz is a classic cocktail. We bumped up the alcohol in it a bit by adding some vodka to it, and we added some passion fruit syrup to give it a tropical feel.
Are there any specific drinks for Galveston sailings?
Not yet, but we have brought in some Texas-based products like Balcones rye and Balcones bourbon. Pretty soon, we’ll have Yellow Rose Outlaw bourbon. We have plenty of Tito’s on hand for drinks. We have Shiner Bock and for non-alcoholic drinks, we have Dr. Pepper.
The other thing we are bringing on board that is not necessarily a Texas thing, but it is popular in Texas, is Topo Chico Ranch Water Hard Seltzer. We will probably look at bringing [Topo Chico] fleetwide as well
How long does it take you to come up with new drink ideas?
We follow trends. We listen to crew members when they say, “We sell a lot of these, but guests return them.” We tweak menus a lot over time. As far as a menu cycle, we change them every three to five months. Honestly, the menu design and the printing [of the new materials] probably takes the longest.
Can you find the same drink menus on all sailings?
Yes. We have a base fleet menu that we use in a lot of venues. Schooners has its own menu that’s the same fleetwide and Boleros has its own menu that’s the same fleetwide. Regionally, the selection can change. In the UK, we bring in more gin and more local beers. Our Drink of the Day program changes by itinerary, so there are some changes, but for the most part, we try to keep it fairly standard.
Royal Caribbean graciously shared the recipe for their number-one-selling Caribbean drink, Passion Spritz.
Here’s how to make it for yourself at home:
- Glass: Wine
- Technique: Shake with ice and strain over fresh ice
- 1 oz Aperol
- 1 oz vodka
- 1 oz Monin Passion Fruit
- 1 oz Finest Call lemon juice
- 2 oz sparkling wine
- Garnish with two orange wedges and two lemon wedges
- Important Steps:
- Top glass with ice if needed before topping with sparkling wine.
- Use a bar spoon to incorporate oranges and lemons throughout the drink.