Elvis Week Blog 6 - The Jungle Room Bartenders Raise a Glass to Elvis

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Welcome to the official blog of Elvis Presley’s Graceland! You can take Elvis-inspired quizzes, get first-looks on events here at Graceland and how-to guides on everything you need to know about Elvis and his home. Like Elvis, we come with a little southern charm

Elvis Week Blog 6 - The Jungle Room Bartenders Raise a Glass to Elvis


It may be mid-afternoon in the middle of Elvis Week, but a Polynesian pop of a party shakes its figurative grass skirt in the Jungle Room Bar, a fresh-out-of-the-box libation station in the new, sprawling Graceland Exhibition Center.  

Elvis music echoes off the walls as fans hoot over a game of name-that-tune. Yet the real action flows from behind the bar. Carlos Rivas, wearing a replica of Elvis’ red floral button-up shirt from “Blue Hawaii,” feverishly rattles a cocktail shaker while cohort Denise Sellers adds an orange slice garnish to a freshly made drink. 

Teamwork makes the dream work for this duo specifically hired to be the inaugural mixmasters of the first full-service bar in the Graceland Exhibition Center complex. Rivas and Sellers bring rich service industry backgrounds and a knack for cocktail creation to the Jungle Room, which opened to the public just two months ago.

Named after the tiki-tastic den found inside Graceland, the Jungle Room Bar resonates with that same spirit. Replica furniture –this includes custom carved, high-back chairs and long decorative sofas straight out of the Graceland woodshop– bode well among green curtains and aqua marine carpet. 

While the decor sets the tone, customers arguably stay for the drinks courtesy of Sellers and Rivas. The entire package makes it one of the most unique bars in all of Memphis. “We really have as much fun as the guests,” says Rivas. “And the company allowed us to bring our collective experience and come up with the cocktail menu.” 

The signature concoctions range from tropical refreshers to Elvis themed potions. Fashioning that menu posed a bit of a challenge, according to Sellers.

“At Graceland the customers are from all walks of life,” she says. “So we ended up incorporating different things to appeal to different tastes, and it seems to be working so far.”

On top of that, Elvis himself is working on Rivas and Sellers. After stepping into their roles in the Jungle Room Bar, both of these professional bartenders continue acquiring a newfound appreciation for Elvis and an ever-growing knowledge of his impact on Memphis and beyond. 

“One of the things that really amazes me is watching people come to Graceland from all over the world more than 40 years after Elvis passed away,” says Rivas. “I can’t compare it to anything else. They have so much passion for Elvis and really want to celebrate his life.”

And Rivas and Sellers are here to help raise a toast to that celebration at the Jungle Room Bar.   

“You can easily spend a whole day on the Graceland campus,” Rivas says. “After a long day, you can wind up with us at the Jungle Room Bar, have a few drinks, listen to the music, and end your day the same way you started it: amazing with a lot of fun.”

The Jungle Room Bar’s Elvis-Inspired Specialty Cocktails

Rivas and Sellers helped create this quartet of signature libations, which highlight the Jungle Room’s full bar with Elvis-eque flair. 

Jungle Room Chocolate Martini
Those who go cuckoo for coconut and chocolate might consider a drink Rivas says “could put you in a great mood.” Absolut Vanilia ((CQ)) vodka, Baileys Irish Cream, and coconut milk get all shook up thanks to the Jungle Room mixologists. They line the rim of the glass with chocolate before dipping it into shredded coconut. “We wanted something sweet to round out the menu,” says Rivas of this after-dinner ’tini, “and give people a drink and dessert all in one.”

Aloha Sunrise
As the television hanging above the bar shows Elvis wowing the “Aloha From Hawaii” audience, Rivas attempts to please guests with a quintessential summer drink. A wink to one of the king’s classic performances, the Aloha Sunrise serves as a virtual vacation in a glass with a duo of rum –Bacardi and Myers’s– doing the tango with pineapple and passion fruit juices and a splash of grenadine syrup. “It’s hot out there,” says Rivas. “You’ve been walking all day, touring the mansion, and you’re ready for a refreshing moment. This tropical concoction is waiting.”

Blue Suede Shoes
A not-so-distant cousin of the Blue Hawaii cocktail, this two-tone treat finds Bacardi rum and crème de banane ((CQ)) liqueur hitting the rocks. Pineapple juice and blue curacao provide the complementary hues, proving even more colorful than the footwear Elvis sings about on the 1956 single of the same name. “It’s very sweet and refreshing,” says Sellers. “And what makes it is the banana liqueur, because we all know Elvis loved banana.”

The Southern Style Sparkling Cocktail
To many, Elvis will always be the South’s greatest export. Perhaps a close second would be peaches, a southern fruit staple, which take center stage here. Peach nectar mingles with La Marca Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine known for having steadfast bubbles full of texture. A splash of Absolut Mango vodka gives a subtle, tropical flavored kick. “It’s similar to a Peach Bellini,” says Sellers. “It’s more of a mimosa-type, brunch cocktail, and tastes even better on a Sunday.” 

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