25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 17: Balsamic Grande at Disney Cruise Line’s Palo

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The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY SEVENTEEN: Balsamic Grand at Palo (Disney Cruise Line)

Balsamic Grand at Palo. (photo by William Hirsch)


There were many aspects of the Disney Cruise that I sailed on earlier this year which gave me a better understanding of why so many people become “addicted” to cruising. One of the areas that stood out to me the most was the overall level of service that guests receive while on the ship, and the pinnacle of that service was at the ship’s upscale Italian restaurant Palo. To summarize: an amazing dining experience, one of the best I have had anywhere, land or sea. The signature cocktail of Palo is the Balsamic Grande, and it is the perfect drink to begin the journey you are about to take within this gorgeous restaurant.  Ingredients: 5 fresh strawberries, divided, 1 1/2 ounces agave nectar, 1/2 ounce balsamic vinegar (aged 8 years), and 5 ounces Grey Goose Vodka Muddle strawberries with agave and balsamic vinegar in a mixing glass. Add vodka and ice; shake and strain into chilled martini glass.

Balsamic Grand at Palo. (photo by William Hirsch)


Despite the rave reviews of Palo from almost all DCL travelers, I was skeptical going in. Our party also included a vegan, and I was definitely not impressed with how prepared the other restaurants on the ship for that dietary request (which we informed them about months ahead of time and then confirmed once we boarded the ship.)  The Palo servers and chefs made a point to let us know they knew about the vegan diet and went above and beyond to deliver an incredible dinner. They asked thoughtful questions about what foods the vegan preferred (unlike questions from the other restaurants, which included, “do you eat fish?“) and then delivered an exceptional meal. Their were many highlights of our week long cruise, but our night at Palo might have been THE highlight, and something we will remember for a long time.

Vegan eggplant-based dish at Palo.




DAY ONE: Shark Attack at Chez Alcatraz

DAY TWO: Grand Marnier Slush at Epcot

DAY THREE: Flaming Moe at Moe’s Tavern

DAY FOUR: Sunken Treasure on the Disney Cruise Line

DAY FIVE: Mai Tai at Emeri’s Tchoup Chop

DAY SIX: Avocado Margarita at La Cava del Tequila

DAY SEVEN: Pumpkin Fizz at the Three Broomsticks

DAY EIGHT: Old Fashioned at Belle Vue Lounge

DAY NINE: PBR in a Paper Bay at Cabana Bay Beach Resort

DAY TEN: Bay Lake Sunset at Top of the World Lounge

DAY ELEVEN: Tongue Tying Lemon Squash at the Leaky Cauldron

DAY TWELVE: Sugar Cane Mojito at Dawa Bar

DAY THIRTEEN: Pint of Guinness at Raglan Road

DAY FOURTEEN: Hog’s Head Brew at the Hog’s Head

DAY FIFTEEN: Burnt Orange at Todd English’s bluezoo

DAY SIXTEEN: Fishy Green Ale at Fountain of Fair Fortune

See you tomorrow for the next entry into the 25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown, where we are going to head into Epcot’s World Showcase. If you had fun, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch!  and Saturday Six articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast. Your humble author can also be seen producing typos at an inhuman rate on Twitter: @derekburgan

Interested in theme park drinks? Then do we have a eBook for you! The Walt Disney World Bars and Lounges eGuide by Brian McNichols. Over 250 pages and containing well over 400 photos, this eGuide takes you through EVERY bar and lounge on WDW property (trust me, Brian has the kidneys problems to prove it!) Also included? Recipes for some of your favorite WDW drinks. Ratings, descriptions, and photos for each of the 70+ bars and lounges. Talk about the perfect Christmas present!

Special thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, Billy Hirsch, and Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey.

*That is an absolutely lie. I still buy an advent calendar every year with chocolates in it, and I also buy an annual box of Christmas Crunch, but we’ll keep that between us.

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