IRVINE, CA—The Irvine Marriott has a “secret.” No, it’s not a pivoting bookcase or mysterious occurrence, but two hidden-from-view F&B destinations set to shake up cocktail culture.
These spaces conjure up thoughts of a modern speakeasy or private supper club where only those in the know will know. Not widely advertised, the hotel currently sports a reimagined Y.N.K (which stands for You Never Know) and a new addition, The Butchershop.
“The goal is all about options and delighting unexpectedly for our guests. Y.N.K. is a Prohibition-style speakeasy focused on Prohibition-era cocktails made to the original recipes and style. The setting is an intimate, old, English study with leather sofas and chairs,” said Garrett Schott, director of food and beverage, Irvine Marriott. “Ten new signature cocktails on tap were added to the menu, and guests can actually choose from more than 100 different drinks. The leather-bound menu is the gateway to Y.N.K.’s incredible cocktail culture where a master mixologist standing behind a vintage desk scientifically pours, smokes, shakes and flames his way to sips of pure brilliance.”
The Butchershop is back-of-the-house and guests need to be escorted in. Hotel staff will drop a hint as to what’s in store. The setting is intimate and a chilly 60 degrees.
Guests have to inquire for the location, and a reservation is strongly recommended to ensure access. Signature cocktails include the Da Cannon, Mezca-Cillen, Coffee + Cigarettes and Baby Mama Fizz.
“One must ask to ‘see the butcher’ or make a reservation. Y.N.K is typically offered to guests looking for more options or a unique cocktail experience. The space is an original kitchen dish/prep area that was underutilized. It has a black ceiling, sexy lighting, Spanish tile flooring, wall art and stainless steel hood vents and sinks throughout,” said Schott. “The focus is on the art of crafting a cocktail and lively interaction with guests; beverages are created based on seasonality and a modern interpretation/twist of classic cocktails. Customers can even create their own cocktail, and The Butchershop will name it after them.”
Beyond the secrecy and cool aesthetics, there are the cocktails—well crafted, inspired and innovative.
“The team at Y.N.K partnered with Ellis Adams Group and decided to focus the beverage program on the classics with rotating specialty cocktails. Training is an ongoing process. The ability of our mixologist consultants to travel the globe and see new techniques gives us the ability to keep Y.N.K constantly relevant,” he said. “The Butchershop allows our mixologist to express themselves through beverage. Experimentation is at the forefront and incorporating unlikely or unusual spirits together. The cocktail menu typically takes about a week to create, and inspiration comes from experiences and twists or individual interpretation of the classics.”
The takeaway? For Schott, he wants guests to have experiences unlike anything they have experienced before.
“Both spaces are intimate with mixologists personally connecting with each guest, learning preferences and surprising and delighting,” he said. “We want to share our passion for the art of the cocktail with everyone, and what we love is for guests to walk away saying, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect that.’”