FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

A Nashville Hotel Bar Taps into Cowboy Culture for a Unique Drinks Program

by Kelly Magyarics

Jul 2, 2024

© Jordan Powers

Global City Guidebook 2024

Just like the equal-parts Negroni, the three-ingredient classic libation to which Four Walls dedicates an entire section of its menu, the ethos of the cocktail bar at The Joseph Hotel is one part each of Nashville, the American West and Italy.

The name is a nod to the 1957 song by country star Jim Reeves, a founder of the Nashville sound whose polished style was a refreshing response to the more unrefined honky-tonk tunes. (Guests know it’s closing time when they hear Reeves’ smooth voice over the sound system crooning about those four walls closing in on him while he waits for his love; the lounge’s soundtrack melds blues with roots rock, soul and a touch of trip-hop, including budding local talent.)

But the 40-seat bar also pays homage to the spaghetti Western films produced in Europe in the 1960s and ’70s. Red fringe hanging from the ceiling and animal hide-adorned walls evoke horse-riding cowboy vibes, films continuously play on twin television screens, and drinks — including ones named for movies made by iconic Italian director Sergio Leone and his contemporaries — are mixed behind a blood-red Rosso Levanto Italian marble bar. The milk-washed Fistful of Dollars (Clint Eastwood’s first starring role) stirs Scotch with Linie Aquavit, Earl Grey, Campari, Benedictine, cacao nib bitters and truffle; Leone’s namesake sip combines a blend of bourbons with Aperol, green Chartreuse, maraschino, house bitters and orange oil.

drinks

© JM Collective

Four Walls, celebrating its first anniversary this July, was the last section of the 297-room hotel to open. You might argue they saved the best for last — especially if you’re a Negroni fan, as the menu touts nine variations. All add Campari, though a few take dramatic license by eschewing gin for rum, mezcal, rye or tequila; the signature is barrel-aged in a jeroboam for a minimum of 45 days.

Lead bartender Mickey Stevenson oversees the beverage program, parts of which change up twice a year to account for available seasonal ingredients. Beverage consultant Kenneth Vanhooser, who has worked on cocktails for lauded spots including The Nomad and Boulud Sud, also has a hand in creations like Gentleman Jim, a savory Manhattan with bay leaf, celery and cardamom named for Reeves. A small menu of bar snacks is reminiscent of what you might be served at a café table in Milan during aperitivo hour.

When guests fall in love with a drink, bartenders type the recipe on an Italian Olivetti typewriter nicknamed “Olive;” short notes or poems to celebrate a birthday or anniversary are other hyper-customized services that elevate the guest experience. Currently, the bar hosts a series of collaborations with teams from the World’s Best Bars, all inspired by exhibitions at Nashville’s Frist Art Museum. On the heels of one with New Orleans’ Jewel of the South, they’ll welcome the team from London’s Lyaness to complement the Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendezvous exhibition. The Fashionably Late offer includes an overnight stay, tickets to the exhibit, late check-out and a special cocktail — just be sure to finish it before you hear those twangy guitar strains signaling it’s time to head home.

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