We always plan our road trip overnights to accommodate walking-distance martinis and dinner. The grail: both on-site, which turns out to be not always but surprisingly often achievable. A recent return trip to the Grand Canyon’s venerable El Tovar with its integral, equally venerable dining room, was an easy one. The surprise was the martinis garnering attention for themselves, no mean feat when the competition is the agelessly absorbing view of the snow-frosted South Rim.
Well martinis, rather than call brands, are our habit—I like to see what’s being poured out there under the rubric, and we’ve only a couple of times run into something utterly undrinkable. At El Tovar, it was apparent something was up with the gin, not in a bad way. Immediately there was a subtle but definite breath of cinnamon, putting me in mind of Nolet’s, but lighter, with plenty of herbals doing their off-gassing upper-palate thing. Delicious, in a word. We ordered a second round.
Turns out the El Tovar’s house pour is Grand Canyon gin, thankyouverymuch, from the Grand Canyon Brewery & Distillery just down the road in Williams, a charming Route 66 railroad town.
Arizona is a quite craft beer-y state, but you may or may not know it’s also no slouch in the craft distillery category. We passed through Williams on our way to Winslow and stopped in for gin, beer, and a look around, noting for future the comfortable-looking bar in the center of the big rustic room—not overdone in luxe-barn style.
It’s worth taking a quick loop around the Williams Route 66 business district before turning off a block or two for the brewery/distillery, where the compound includes, among other things, an adjacent building that was undergoing major reno-construction when we were there, destined to be a barrel room. We’ll be back—maybe to check on that, but definitely to restock.