If you’re looking for great places to hold a group meeting or a gathering location for your group after hours, Orlando has plenty of options for you to consider.
- 1 teaspoon simple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters, plus more to taste
- 1 half dollar-size sliced orange peel
- 2 ounces good-quality rye or bourbon
- 1 maraschino cherry
You probably don’t recognize this recipe (it’s for an Old Fashioned cocktail), but if you go to The Courtesy you’ll learn it well. This cozy lounge that opened five years ago in the heart of Downtown Orlando takes it’s cocktails seriously — and is willing to share its secrets with visitors.
“The 80s and 90s really put a damper on what we think of cocktails,” says Diana Zimmerman, owner of the city’s first craft cocktail bar (there are now more than a dozen). “Everyone tried to improvise on traditional cocktails by using cheap, more efficient mixers, and the results were horrible.”
In an effort to teach enthusiasts how to craft the perfect cocktail, The Courtesy holds classes twice a month focusing on traditional favorites. During Mardi Gras, for instance, bar-goers learned how to make a real Hurricane, and “not the kind you concoct with fake juice,” insists Zimmerman.
3 Places to Meet, Eat & Drink Under the Radar
The Courtesy can be rented for private parties (up to 60 people) or private classes (up to 12 people), where participants can choose what type of cocktail to make. “A lot of these drinks are easy to make but very, very easy to mess up,” Zimmerman says.
If you’re looking for a drink with more grains and hops, visitors who want to get a taste of the craft beer scene in Orlando can check out Orlando Brewing, a south downtown hotspot where, “if you don’t like beer, we’ll convert you,” jokes William Droste, partner and director of marketing.
This trendy brewpub serves up to 21 different organic brews and offers guests a tour and a lesson on brew-making, in addition to beer-sampling. “Craft beer is so hot right now that people who come to town want to compare our craft beer to the craft beers in their hometowns,” Droste says.
The brewpub makes 10 of its craft beers itself, while the other 11 are bourbon-aged in a different location. For groups looking for team-building options, Droste brings out giant Jenga games, blocks, darts and cornhole boards.
Another hidden-away gem just miles from downtown is the 17,000-square-foot Quantum Leap Winery. This unique place provides the ideal setting to unwind with colleagues after a long day of meetings — or to host an intimate tasting.
Owners Jill Ramsier and David Forrester opened the winery seeking to reinvent the wine-to-market delivery process. Rather than producing wine where it is grown, Quantum Leap sources raw, unrefined wine from sustainable vineyards throughout the globe. The product is then blended and bottled in Quantum’s facility, thus reducing the carbon footprint of traditional wine production.
Locals recommend the winery’s Pedaler’s Hard Cider, which was lauded as the “Best Cider in Florida” by the brewer’s guild. Private events are available for small groups (less than 35) in the Barrel Room and larger groups (less than 175) in the Tasting Room. Groups of up to 400 can take over the entire vineyard.