DiningDrinkingUniversal Orlando Resort

Universal Dining: Emeril’s New Cocktail Menu

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A longtime favorite of TouringPlans readers, Emeril’s Orlando is the Florida outpost of Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans restaurant and has probably the best food and wine list within all of CityWalk, and considering the new competition including Vivo Italian Kitchen, Antojitos Authentic Mexican and The Cowfish, that is quite the accomplishment. The restaurant itself sits in prime real estate at Universal, overlooking the park’s lagoon as you make your way to Islands of Adventure. The food is Louisiana-style with Lagasse’s signature creative flair, with a menu that is routinely being updated with new dishes.

Emeril’s in Universal CityWalk. (photo by Brandon Glover)

We were recently asked to try out Emeril’s new cocktail menu, and we felt we needed to bring along an expert in the field of theme park drinking to fully gauge the quality of this menu. A call was placed to the agents of Drunk@Disney, and after tough negotiations he agreed to join crack photographer Brandon Glover on this journey. The theme of the new menu  is simple: Classic New Orleans both pre-prohibition and modern. Emeril’s wanted to focus on providing an authentic new Orleans experience. Did they pull it off? Let’s check it out…

Monk’s Revolt, The New G&T, Smoking Gun, and Passion Fruit Hurricane

The main dining room at Emeril’s is two stories high and features hardwood floors, wooden beams, and stone walls, all of which act as sounding boards for the noisy dining room. Sliding glass doors lead to the kitchen. Part of the kitchen is actually open, and there are eight seats at a food bar—some of the best seats in the house in our opinion. The second floor features private party rooms, the restaurants incredible bottled wine gallery, and an intimate chef’s tasting room. This is THE white linen experience at the Universal Orlando Resort. You want to wow a date or celebrate an important anniversary? This is where to go.

Emeril’s Orlando.
Emeril’s Orlando

Walking in the door, it was clear this was going to be a unique experience.  The crowd inside Emeril’s did not appear to have just trudged out of a theme park, rather had a vibrant atmosphere with a nice energy; clearly a fine dining atmosphere but with a fun twist. Upon first glance, it was apparent we were in for something different, as these are premium drinks that come with a premium price.  If Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is positioned as the Theme Park tiki-drink headquarters, then Emeril’s is gunning for the premium Classic cocktail experience.  The drink list has a speakeasy kind of vibe with prohibition era drinks as well as New Orleans classics and favorites.

Okay, let’s get to some alcohol!

Ramos Gin Fizz  – (Ransom Old Tom Gin, Cointreau, Lemon, Heavy Cream, Egg Whites, Orange Blossom Water) – Created by Henry C. Ramos in 1888 at New Orleans’ Imperial Cabinet Saloon.  Originally, the drink was required to be shaken for 10 minutes by up to 20 “shaker boys” – all lined up in a row – while today Emeril’s has the bartender shake for a minimum of five minutes. As the name implies, the cocktail is very fizzy, with a strong taste of gin going along with a slight hint of citrus thanks to the orange.

Ramos Gin Fizz. ($16)
Head bartender Susan shaking the Ramos Gin Fizz.

Smoking Gun – (Templeton Rye Whiskey, Dom de Canton, Black Walnut Bitters, Lemon Juice, Almond Orgeat) – According to Drunk@Disney, the Smoking Gun was the one drink which stood out as head and shoulders above the rest. Not only was it the best tasting for his preferences, but it has a great story as well as we were informed  that it was an original Al Capone recipe. The backstory of the various drinks were a secondary highlight of the evening, as the menu allows the servers to tell a story about each drink. 

Smoking Gun. ($16)
Bottle of Templeton Rye, a key ingredient in a Smoking Gun.

French 75 – (Courvoisier VS, Lemon, Sugar Sparking Wine) – Originally crafted with gin, this cocktail was made popular in New Orleans at Arnaud’s French 75 cocktail bar but in French fashion they chose cognac. Fantastic cocktail, smooth tasting with a kick of ginger and sour lemon.

French 75. ($18)

The Boulevardier – (Knob Creek Bourbon, Aperol Aperitif, Carpana Antica) – Introduced pre-prohibion, but eventually was forgotten about until it was received by Volstead Act.  Became popular due to the fact its pretty tame and flavors disguised the unpalatable liquors of the time. This is a man’s drink and will put hair on your chest.  The Knob Creek Bourbon is distinctive and strong, but very drinkable. The soaked cherries were a nice addition.

The Boulevardier. ($16)

Cantaloupe Martini – Very fresh and juicy, tasting like a cantaloupe mixed with alcohol. 

Cantaloupe Martini.

The New G&T – (Nolet Gin, Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic, Black Currant, Lime) – This was very smooth and refreshing, especially for a Gin and Tonic. A perfect drink for a warm summer day. A drink not to be missed.

The New G&T. ($12)

Monks Revolt – (Fifty Pounds Gin, Green Chartreuse, Dolin Blanc, Lemon, Ginger) – A little tart for our tastes, but Monk’s Revolt does pack a punch.

Monk’s Revolt. ($15)

Passion Fruit Hurricane  – (Cruzan Light Aged Rum, Gosling Black Seal, Passion Fruit, Lime, Orange, Pomegranate) – Potent, mighty and tasty concoction made its debut at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York etching the creator and New Orleans native, Pat O’Brien, into tiki drink lore. Emeril’s has a tangy passion fruit twist. This Hurricane can hang with any on property, which is saying something because Universal is blessed with good Hurricane options (we’re looking in your direction Pat O’Briens…)

Passion Fruit Hurricane. ($15)

Naval Punch – (Pusser’s British Navy Rum, Averna Amara, Pineapple, Lemon, Aromatic Bitters) – Another very strong drink with the rum, pinapple, and lemon flavors but not too fruity. Like the Smoking Gun, half the fun of this drink is hearing its backstory involving daily the British Navy. The long history of rum and ships goes way back, as also evidenced by Capt Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Naval Punch. ($15)

Emeri’s has much more than cocktails, with an extensive list of beers on draught and bottled.

Funky Buddha Florida Wheat – Light on the palate but full of flavor, with hints of citrus. A hefeweizen styled beer. 


Napa Smith, Organic IPA – This is a fantastic IPA, as Drunk@Disney also ordered one on his way out the door. A nice hoppy flavor, but not overpowering


Bottled beers selections – Abita Turbodog, Abita Purple Haze, Orlando Pale Ale, Bud, Bud Light, Terrapin Hopsecutioner IPA, Terrapin Peanut Butter – Chocolate Porter, Coors Light, Mich Ultra, Snapshot Belgium Wheat, Heineken, Stella Artois, Chimay Blue Ale, and Nitro Milk Stout.

Emerils New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp – (Florida white shrimp served with a petite rosemary biscuit) – Shrimp had great texture with a sauce that had a kick but wasn’t too spicy. In fact, dipping the biscuit in the sauce was a huge hit and we found ourselves wanting more biscuits to soak up the sauce. Good combo.

New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp. ($13)

Tuna + Watermelon – This was amazing. A very unique combination that we thought was insane at first, but it worked. Would definitely order again with a cocktail on a trip to CityWalk.

Tuna + Watermelon.

Crawfish Boudin Balls – A solid amount of meat in this crawfish balls, but nothing to make them stand out like the shrimp. Hush puppies with more texture. The menu is filled with New Orleans staples like this, and that’s definitely something to appreciate. 

Crawfish Boudin Balls.

Steamed Mussels – Another favorite with coconut curry cream sauce, Andouille, spinach, tomato and green onion slaw. 

Steamed Mussels.

Tuna Poke “BAM BAM” – (Wakame salad, crisp nori chips, papaya relish) – Not as notable as the other apps. Not bad, but not noteworthy either. Some tuna and flavorful relish on top of basically a Dorito chip. Presentation was nice, but needed a little something extra.

Tuna Poke “Bam Bam.” ($10)
Tuna Poke “Bam Bam.”

Cookies + Cream Cheesecake – (Chocolate ganache, chantilly cream) – Absolutely delicious. Not enough praise can be heaped upon it. Tons of cookie bits inside the filling. A+. So good that after having a bite you want to channel your inner Dirk Nowitzki and yell “Shut it doooooown!Emerils23

Cookies + Cream Cheesecake. ($9)

Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie – (Graham cracker crust, caramel sauce, chocolate shavings) – The signature dessert of Emeril’s, this very well be the greatest banana cream pie ever created. It’s worth noting that you can get slices to go, so even if you aren’t planning a meal at Emeril’s you can always stop by after a day of touring the Universal parks and get a slice of heaven to cap off your night.

Emeril’s Banana Creme Pie is guaranteed to renew your faith in humanity. ($10)

Coffee Martini – A perfect dessert cocktail, especially for people who enjoy iced coffee. A great match for the sweet taste of the banana creme pie.

Coffee Martini

It is worth noting that Emeril’s currently has a special offering guests a FREE appetizer or dessert. Simply present your Universal Orlando Resort theme park ticket to your server during lunch or dinner to receive a free appetizer or dessert with purchase of an entree. Offer ends December 30, 2015.

And did someone say DAILY HAPPY HOUR?!

Happy hour menu? This is where you throw your hands up and scream in excitement like Kermit the Frog.

We would like to thank Emeril’s for their hospitality and generosity in allowing us to try their new cocktail menu. As always, the service was exceptional. Our overall experience was on par with any higher end experience in Orlando (Citrico’s at the Grand Floridian Resort comes to mind as a good comparison.) The servers were very attentive and helpful with the menu.

Emeril’s Orlando.

Emeril’s Orlando

Reservations: PH: 407 224 2424 or  OpenTable. Note: Dinner reservations can be hard to come by during peak season or during major conventions unless booked weeks in advance. To get a table on the same day as your visit, call the restaurant at 3:15 p.m.

Hours of operation: Lunch (Daily 11:30am – 3pm) Dinner (Sunday – Thursday from 5-10pm, Friday/Saturday from 5-10:30pm)

Attire: Casual (no sleeveless shirts for men.)

Emeril’s offers FREE valet parking at CityWalk for lunch (up to two hours.) For Florida residents, parking at the CityWalk garages is free after 6PM.

Other Universal Dining Articles:

Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at the Royal Pacific Resort

Jake’s American Bar at the Royal Pacific Resort

Character Breakfast at Jake’s American Bar

Backwater Bar at Islands of Adventure

Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food at CityWalk


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One thought on “Universal Dining: Emeril’s New Cocktail Menu

  • Nice job Derek….Emeril’s doesn’t get nearly enough discussion. That Smoking Gun sounds fantastic and not something you would find at any of the other eateries. Regarding the Ramos Fizz, it was originally shaken by 20 boys in order to guarantee the complete emulsion of the raw egg whites in such a warm climate. The Boulevardier is simply the best cocktail on earth…it did disappear for long time, but is making a big resurgence. Finally, the French 75 was created in Paris during World War I and named for the French 75mm artillery gun. It later became the signature drink at Arnaud’s.


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