The El Jefe will add a Kick to Your Weekend

Image courtesy The Sanctuary, Kiawah Island

Take one step through The Sanctuary’s doors on Kiawah Island, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back centuries in time to a grand seaside mansion. Surrounded by Live Oak trees draped in Spanish moss, the drive up to the hotel site gives off an eerily beautiful calm only found in relatively untouched bits of the deep south. The hotel’s interior is equally elegant and welcoming. While The Sanctuary was built in 2004, it was designed to feel like it’s been on Kiawah for centuries – evolving and expanding over time. 

The Sanctuary is the only hotel on Kiawah Island’s 10- mile stretch of beach and is renowned for its natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Located just 21 miles from historic Charleston, South Carolina, this luxury beach resort hotel includes 255 guestrooms, a 5-star spa & salon, indoor and outdoor pools, and multiple dining options located on-site and across the island. Kiawah also boasts some of the world’s finest golfing with a stay at The Sanctuary, giving guests access to 5 golf courses – including the elite Ocean Course, home to the 2012 and 2021 PGA Championship. 

Between the Hotel and the Golf Clubhouses, Kiawah Dining Collection’s restaurants, cafes, and eateries across the island will offer guests a range of culinary explorations while staying true to their southern coastal roots. 

The Sanctuary’s Food & Beverage Director, Michael Blake, describes the hotel’s bourbon list as, “A well-balanced, well-defined list but it’s also a range that’s approachable enough that you can pick something, you can make a choice.” 

The Sanctuary also has its own Woodford Reserve pick, a custom blend exclusive to the hotel, inspired by their coastal location. 

“I wanted something that was going to be able to represent the hotel, and it has a sea salt and caramel flavor to it,” said Blake. “Being that we are right by the sea, I thought it would be perfect to do that.” 

Every bar and restaurant in The Sanctuary serves its exclusive Woodford custom blend, and each bottle is customized with The Sanctuary’s label plaque and date of blending. The Sanctuary also has fun with its Woodford pick; earlier this year, they held an internal contest for each department on the most unique way to use it. The winner: the hotel’s ice cream shop. 

“The winner, believe it or not, was Beaches and Cream,” said Blake. “She took the bourbon and blended it with local Holy Cow caramel sea salt ice cream – it was hands down the winner. The only stipulation was they had to use the Woodford blend.” 

The Sanctuary hosts an array of bourbon related events throughout the year. Their most notable is Bourbon & Barbecue, the kickoff event to Gourmet and Grapes – a weekend long celebration fundraiser each January for HUSC’s Hollings Cancer Center. 

“Gourmet and Grapes is obviously a food and wine event, but we wanted to add a little bit of a twist to it, so we reached out to Pappy Van Winkle, and we had Julian Van Winkle here, and we did a tasting,” said Blake. “This was that Thursday, and it’s always kind of the kickoff. It kicks off the event. We also had Trey Zoller here [from Jefferson Bourbon], and Trey has his Jefferson’s Ocean, so we got the opportunity for him to come.” 

The Sanctuary is the perfect plan to escape reality while enjoying your favorite glass of bourbon at the same time.

Recipe by Jesse Slowikowski, bartender at The Sanctuary

☐ 1.5oz of Rye Whiskey (made with The Sanctuary’s Woodford Reserve barrel-pick or your favorite rye whiskey)
☐ 0.5 oz of Strawberry/Guajillo Pepper simple syrup (see recipe below)
☐ 0.5 oz of Lemon Juice

Add rye whiskey, strawberry-pepper simple syrup, and ice to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain the drink onto ice in a cocktail glass and top with a splash of club soda. Garnished with a strawberry and a Guajillo pepper.

☐ Equal parts water and sugar
☐ 1 pint of strawberries
☐ 10 Guajillo peppers

Bring the water to a boil, add the sugar, strawberries and peppers and let boil about 20 minutes. For a smooth syrup, muddle the mixture and then strain.