When guests get thirsty at Disney Festival of Holidays, they have Elena Aranda and team to thank for creating and crafting beverages that reflect the festival’s message of diversity.
“With holidays, I like looking back on what was I used to growing up and what was very known to my culture, but then also the cultures of other people,” said Elena, a Food and Beverage culinary lead at Disney California Adventure Park. “I wondered, ‘how do I incorporate all of that together?’ I think it’s really unique that I can add a little bit of me, but then also have that variety.”
One of Elena’s favorite beverages this year is the Hibiscus Ginger Mezcal Mule, made with mezcal (alcohol made from maguey), house-made hibiscus syrup, ginger, lime juice and Topo Chico Mineral Water. Her team’s goal was to honor tradition while also leaving room for creativity and innovation.
“Mezcal is the national spirit from Mexico, so we really wanted to incorporate that into our menu,” shared Elena. “Typically, you don’t use mezcal for a mule, but I wanted to do that because it was something different. We also decided not to use ginger beer, incorporating the ginger in the beverage instead and then just topping it off with Topo Chico, which is also from Mexico. … I like taking the time with beverages, looking into what flavors would look or taste good together and seeing how I can push the limit while getting that twist.”
During the ideation process, Elena and her team source cast member feedback and also continuously tap into guest feedback as Disney Festival of Holidays runs. She is grateful for the opportunity to bring herself and her heritage into her work as she executes beverages through extensive research and careful planning.
“I feel like [bringing my heritage into my work] shows my passion,” Elena said. “It shows how much I care, and I feel like when you include all that, it shows with what you end up executing.”
Disney Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park runs through Jan. 9