Recognized for its world-class culinary and cocktail scene, Charleston’s hotels are no stranger to adjusting their offerings to match the standard of this budding city. Hotel Bennett opened in 2019 and had the opportunity to add their brand to Charleston’s fine dining and wining lists, starting with their pastel pink lounge, Camellias. With pink marble countertops, sumptuous rose chairs and beverages that match the decor, Camellia’s Instagrammable allure and curated champagne list — served by the glass and in bubbly beverages — Hotel Bennett added to the competitive epicurean map.
“We’ve really developed our beverage program with our specialty cocktails,” said Hayato Nogaki, assistant general manager at Hotel Bennett. “We work with our bartenders to change cocktail menus seasonally, and we have come up with a really good system that has led to menus consisting of playful, tasty and impressive cocktails that remain a huge hit with both guests and locals.”
In 2020, the hotel launched their offer on Louis XIII 50 ml in-room bottles. Premium cognac is placed on request in the rooms as an extension of the minibar with all crystal lacquer accompaniment, including a crystal cap and two crystal glasses.
The property’s latest spirits offering comes in partnership with Firefly Distillery – Charleston’s oldest distillery – to offer a proprietary bourbon, distilled and aged in South Carolina. “This is the first time that Firefly has created an exclusive spirit for a partner,” says Nogaki, adding that the bourbon contains subtle toffee notes that complement a spicy and fruity forward finish. The only selected bourbon replaces the hotel’s husbourbon and will be available exclusively at all three on-site restaurants, including Camellias, Gabrielle and the rooftop bar at Fiat Lux.
Nogaki shares more about the latest partnership as well as Hotel Bennett’s other specialty spirits that offer below:
Jillian Dara: How did the idea of creating a specific bourbon that is unique to the hotel come about?
Hayato Nogaki: Hotel Bennett, its owners, and the history behind the property are deeply rooted in Charleston and its history. When we create new guest offers, we always think about how we take advantage of this and introduce experiences that are authentic to the destination. Working with Firefly Distillery was one of the rare opportunities to partner with another brand with roots here in Charleston to create something rare and special for our guests. I remember visiting the distillery when it first opened, and now, more than a decade later, I look forward to debuting our exclusive Firefly bourbon for the Hotel Bennett.
From: What about bourbon is most unique to the property? How do you reflect the property in this label?
Nogaki: This batch was made for Hotel Bennett only. We could be part of the process from an early age: We tasted different barrels to decide what felt right for us. In the end, we went with the bold but slick profile that we believe gives a statement that echoes the hotel. The label on the bottle contains a handmade medallion with Hotel Bennett’s insignia, especially for this partnership.
From: Who did you work with to launch this liquor offering, and how did you decide on this partner?
Nogaki: Between visiting the distillery and hosting Firefly’s owner and team at Hotel Bennett’s bars and lounges, we got to know them over the years, and we were all excited to bring this partnership to life. Our two brands just felt like a perfect fit. Personally, I have always loved their spirits and have enjoyed visiting their distillery, so it was exciting to be a part of the process of setting up our own hotel party.
From: How did the idea of working with Louis XIII come about?
Nogaki: Hotel Bennett is about luxury, and we always think, ‘What can we give our guests that they can’t have anywhere else?’ We are the only company in South Carolina to offer the Louis XIII Mini Bottle. It is this type of special and exclusive amenities that we love to provide to our guests.
From: Has amenity or offerings evolved since launch?
Nogaki: Guests can request a Louis XIII 50 ml bottle of cognac to be added to their minibar offer before arrival. This special offer is priced at $ 1,400 and includes a Louis XIII 50 ml bottle; crystal cap; two crystal glasses with the Louis XIII logo engraved; Louis XIII logo engraved pouring glass; and Louis XIII logo engraved hill. Guests have loved this glory just as we debuted it, so we have not changed it.
From: Why do you think it is so important to offer this kind of facilities to your guests?
Nogaki: Our guests expect advanced services and facilities, and we are always looking for ways to further enhance the experience. In addition to our beautiful accommodations such as the Owners Suite, rooftop pool with private cabanas and city views, various F&B locations such as our champagne lounge Camellias and our coveted King’s Club Level experience; It is these unique and exclusive touch points that help make a stay at the Hotel Bennett even more memorable.
This interview has been edited and condensed for the sake of clarity.