Since we’re giving away the chance for a lucky travel agent to stay at the Willard InterContinental and attend my upcoming Smithsonian event, I had to pay a visit to this famed Washington, DC hotel and see what it’s all about. Since I also am really into filming 360 videos right now, I thought it would be cool to do an impromptu 360 at The Willard, which turned out to be fun! Done in one take, these immersive videos give you a sense of your whole surroundings and can be really engaging as you get to spin around to take in the views… and in this case, a cocktail view.
I started out in The Willard’s Lobby to soak in the ambience. The Willard is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of Historic Hotels of America. The fact that every U.S. president since 1853 has stayed here and it’s steps from The White House make it most certainly worth stopping by. If you do, plan some time in the Round Robin Bar.
I was lucky enough to have bartender Jim Hewes, who has been at The Willard for more than 32 years, bartending on my visit. Watch the 360 video to hear his take on the hotel and Round Robin Bar’s interesting history. I was able to toast with a Henry Clay Mint Julep in the bar, where Thomas Jefferson would have been having a drink during his time. Pretty neat!
The signature drink here is in fact the Henry Clay Mint Julep that Kentucky senator, Henry Clay, introduced at this famed bar. Other famous happenings at The Willard include: Julia Ward Howe penned The Battle Hymn of the Republic. President Ulysses S. Grant coined the term “Lobbyist.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King completed the “I Have a Dream” speech.
After my trip to the Round Robin Bar, I dined at the Cafe du Parc, which has a French flair for those of us who just love France!
In case you want Jim Hewes recipe for the “Henry Clay Mint Julep,” The Willard has shared it so you can try it at home:
The Willard’s Henry Clay Mint Julep Recipe
2 oz Makers Mark Bourbon
1 tsp Sugar
Branch Water or Soda Water
8 to 10 Mint Leaves Crushed Ice
Place mint leaves, sugar and a small measure of bourbon in a glass. Muddle with spoon. Half fill the glass with ice and gently combine the mixture. Fill with remaining ice, add remainder of bourbon, and top off with branch or soda water. Garnish with a lightly sprinkle fresh sprig of mint and a twist of lemon. Gently dust with sugar & enjoy!