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Guest Review: Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, Modern Mixology Seminar

Thanks to Brenda Meng, who writes a hilarious blog about food at her own Gastropod Travels, for putting together this detailed review of the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic Mixology Seminar!

Modern Mixology Description

Few things in life are as certain as death and taxes, unless it’s the annual migratory flight of hordes of hungry Disney fans headed to Florida for the October Epcot Food & Wine Festival. This year, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin decided to get in on the act, and it was high time as far as my husband and I were concerned. There are some incredible restaurants housed at these two hotels and the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic provided a taste of what they have to offer. We purchased advance tickets to the event for $50 each, which gave us unlimited food and drink samples at the stations set up along the walkway between the hotels as well as our choice of a beverage seminar one hour before the official event was slated to begin.

Swan and Dolphin Causeway

Mixology Seminar Atmosphere and Eats/Drinks
Based on our fondness for mixed drinks and past experiences with Bluezoo’s cocktail menu, this was the beverage seminar my husband and I most wanted to attend.

The class was led by Doug Draper, Bluezoo’s General Manager; and Lindsay Skillman, the Cabana Bar & Beach Club Manager. They were engaging and knowledgeable and worked well with each other. They also did a nice job of simplifying the more technical aspects of the seminar. It was enjoyable and informative, to a point, but we still came away disappointed. Jay and I expected a hands-on experience that would primarily include guests mixing their own drinks and instead found that we were on the receiving end of a lecture about the varying components of molecular drink-making such as infusions, gels, foams, and caviar bubbles.

Seminar Set Up

During the class we were all given a small Zooberry, Bluezoo’s signature cocktail, which served as an example of a drink that utilizes infusion (blueberries with vodka). As fruit-flavored drinks go it wasn’t bad, but it was still sweeter than either Jay or I prefer our drinks.

Zooberry

We were also provided with a small snack straight from Bluezoo’s appetizer menu: yellowfin tuna tartare with miso caviar and siracha infused aioli. The tuna was lovely –- sweet and tender -– while the aioli lent it a good kick. I was looking forward to more taste treats with the rest of our cocktails but this was the only food item we received; I found that a bit of a letdown since the pre-event marketing sounded to me as if we would have a small tasting item with each drink.

Tuna Dish

The second cocktail we were presented with was a Tequila Sunset, which was an example of sphereification, or the caviar bubble-making process. The drink itself was a whole lot of tequila with some orange juice, while the sphereification was represented by two bright red, gelatinous grenadine balls floating near the bottom of the glass. This drink really didn’t do much for me –- it wasn’t mixed very well and the caviar bubbles didn’t have much taste; they looked kind of cool, but at the end of the day I want to drink my booze, not chew it.

Tequila Sunset

Grenadine Sphereification

Sphereification Slide

We did get to “play” a bit during this part of the seminar: at each place setting there was a squeeze bottle with orange-colored gel and a bowl of liquid chemical specific to the sphereification process. Guests were instructed to slowly drip the gel into the bowl where each drop would turn into a little caviar bubble that we could add to a drink we would each be allowed to make at the end of the class.

Making Caviar Bubbles

The final cocktail was a variation of the Burnt Orange that Bluezoo offers. Each guest was provided a small bottle of Ketel One Orange Vodka, and we then wound our way through a cocktail assembly line at the front of the room where glasses, ice, orange juice, and orange garnishes were waiting.

After assembling the drink, guests could enlist the help of the seminar team in bruleeing an orange wedge for additional garnish or adding some orange slices that had been flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen for a spooky, smoky effect.

Drink Recipe

I would have liked this portion of the class more if everyone had been allowed to mix the drink at their respective tables so that we could all experience it simultaneously. As it was, by the time my husband and I made it through the assembly line more than half of the attendees had wandered off to begin sampling the food and drink offerings at the stations outside -– it made for a very unorganized and abrupt end to the seminar.

Our Drink Creation

Overall Review
While this class wasn’t nearly as hands-on as I would have liked and focused exclusively on sweet, fruity drinks, for a first attempt it was a strong effort. I was especially encouraged that the event planners requested guest feedback and suggestions in writing so that they can focus on ways to improve next year’s classes.

Jay and I may be in the minority, but we like our mixed drinks strong and flavorful with minimal fuss and feathers –- we would have much preferred to learn how to make Bluezoo drinks like the Kirkland or the Bacon Bourbon Smash to the Zooberry and the Burnt Orange. But then again, we’re not known for being patient … if we had to put off a drink in order to wait for the booze to be infused with fruity goodness or create alcoholic caviar bubbles to float in the glass, the two of us would likely throw up our hands in frustration and join the nearest temperance society!

Brenda will be back soon with another review of her experience dining at the booths out on the Causeway at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic! If you have comments or questions about the event, let us know here in the comments section below!

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10 Comments

  1. Chelsi says:

    Great review – can’t wait to read more!

  2. Brad says:

    $50 for all that food plus a seminar seems like a pretty good deal. Particularly given that it’s the first year and next year it seems like they clearly are interested in continuing to impress. Maybe they’ll choose to do something more interactive next year, since playing with liquid nitrogen is a bit of an insurance risk. I come away with the impression that it’s definitely worth trying next year, do you agree Brenda?

  3. Sheryl says:

    Great review! Totally agree with Brenda’s take on the seminar.

  4. Lori says:

    I completely agree with Brenda’s assessment of it. The orange creation at the end turned out to be nasty, though. I left the drink mostly untouched and headed to the tasting area outside.

  5. Kelly says:

    This sounds like something my fiancé would like (he’s into science, different ways of doing things, etc) Hopefully they’ll continue with it in the next few years!

  6. Brenda says:

    Those of you who were there that night, thanks for the comments – it helps to know that I wasn’t too far off base with my impressions!

    Brad – we thought the $50 per person price tag was a great deal, especially with the seminar included. There was definitely more alcohol than food at the tasting event on the causeway but guests who pre-paid had wristbands that allowed unlimited eating and drinking for four hours if they so chose. I definitely felt like the folks in charge of this event want to continue to make it better and if we were planning to be at WDW next Octover we would already have the event penciled in for one night. Absolutely worth a second try.

  7. Alan says:

    Once again, the Swan and Dolphin are the cutting edge of Disney eat and drinks. While some (emphasize some) of the resorts are disappointing, they say a rising tide lifts all boats. So congrats to the folks who run those resorts.

  8. Josh says:

    Interesting review, I really was wondering what would end up happening when the Swan & Dolphin decided to try and do a seminar. Especially with the Food and Wine Festival running!

    I wonder what the Orange looked like that was flash frozen!

  9. Brenda says:

    John, thanks for reading. The flash frozen orange just looked like shriveled up, dried fruit – nothing special until it met liquid and then started to smoke.

  10. Brenda says:

    Josh, not John … sorry! My typing skills are not good. ;-)

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