The Ritz-Carlton’s New lounge stirs up creative cocktails in a stylish space.
Breakneck is a modest term for the pace of what’s happening in Uptown Charlotte. Just look at the skyline for a clue. As the city lights twinkle ever brighter with dazzling multiplicity, so does the food and drink scene below. No longer do the streets of Uptown fall into stasis after banking hours. Instead, a new energy pulses through the city’s main arteries where people are finding more spaces to gather, linger, or visit with intention. Surprisingly, its Charlotte’s hotels that house some of the newest destinations of interest. The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte’s newly redesigned lounge, Kinship, offers a sultry space for locals and travelers alike to settle in for a cocktail and a bite.
The five-star hotel synonymous with luxury has upped its game, first in 2015 with the launch of the Punch Room, the 15th-floor cocktail wonderland guided by world-class mixologist Bob Peters, and now with the revamp of its lobby lounge. Consider it a quick buff on its already polished image. From the marbled entranceway of the Ritz, the golden glow of the backlit lobby bar beckons guests into its comfortable clutches. There are couches to sink into after a hard day’s work and wide, leather chairs huddled together in groups of four for intimate gathering. The Ritz assigned resident mixologists Brett Leek and E.J. Kim the task of creating the cocktail menu, which offers a few stunning selections in addition to a local beer selection, wine, and spirits. Cocktails like the Smoked Pineapple Pear featuring smoked Hennessy infused with pineapple and pear juice arrive in a glass-blown flask for sophisticated sharing. If you want to impress your guests, order Four the Crew, a cocktail for four made with Tito’s Vodka, lychee fruit, and ginger syrup. The handsome quartet arrives in a smoke-filled glass box that imparts a delicate smoke (and a dash of showmanship) to the bright cocktail.
For the food, the Ritz-Carlton sought out Chef Juan Pablo de la Sota Riva (who came from one of its stalwart properties in Naples, Fla.) to orchestrate the menu. The Mexican-born chef brings a renowned Latin pedigree from his time working in Michelin-starred La Broche in Madrid and at La Cirque in Mexico City. To taste the work of the chef, order the Jicama Taco Shell for the perfect bite of lump crab, guacamole, cilantro, and creme fraiche cradled inside a thinly-shaved slice of jicama. The Charred Octopus Anticuchos—generous portions of tender, cumin-scented octopus, charred and skewered—atop a fresh salad of hominy, onions, peppers, and mint dressed with lime juice are not to be missed either. On Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays, live music plays from the lounge area stage, but you’re bound to soak in the energy of the city whether the soundtrack comes from the band, the business bar crowd, or the gaggle of Hornets fans popping in for a sophisticated night cap.
Photography by Michael C. Hernandez.