California is for Cocktails

I get upset when I walk around California by how few people are smiling — you live in heaven folks, embrace it!  Got to take a 48 hour sojourn to my favorite state and needless to say, I cried like a baby on the return flight.  Weather, fun people, beautiful towns, and cocktails!

My main cocktail stop on this trip was at the SideDoor, a fun and busy little gastropub in Newport Beach.  Very nice old English decor and a challenging cocktail list.


Had I been alone, I would have been tempted to do an “around the world” maneuver, where I try all of them — but, because of the presence of several friends who might look down on a seven cocktail evening, I had to temper my intake (a bit, just a bit).  My first was the Fancy Nancy; as you can see, the presentation was AMAZING — I enjoyed the experience of drinking a cocktail with my pinky up!  The taste was good, smooth, and almost tart, but forgettable.  A good experience but the saucer was the best part.


I had two more, the Buffalo Bill’s Swill and Poppy Love — the former was probably the highlight of the night, as the strawberry gives you an upfront expectation of a sweet follow through which is then interrupted by the very unique and simmering kick of the trace and tiki betters.  Very intriguing drink.  Poppy Love was creative, complex, and almost heavy — a bit too syrupy but I enjoyed sipping it slowly at the end of a hazy evening.

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If you’re in the area I would definitely get over to the Side Door — bartenders were very courteous even during a packed night and put some love into their creations.  Good times.  The next day, we headed out to Mutt Lynch’s for brunch.  It’s at a great spot, a few hundred feet from Newport Pier.  It’s quirky, fun, and a local favorite — I feel for it hard.  I asked for a mimosa, to which the waiter asked if we wanted a small (the size of a large water glass) or a large (a bucket with straws).  Easy decision!


After the wedding itself I headed to A&O Kitchen, a hotel bar.  The highlight of the night was not the cocktails but the raucous post-wedding karaoke contest going on — had to be there.  Had two cocktails, the Anti-Oxident – Acai, Kurrant, and Blueberry, and the Scotsman — Sark, Ginger Beer, and Pineapple. The AO was so light and fruity I forgot (or didn’t notice) it had alcohol in it and felt like drinking a few after a run for refreshment.  The Scotsman was ok but I’m still not loving pineapple juice as an ingredient, just gives it an odd sour pop that I don’t love.  But hey, after a long wedding, I couldn’t complain, and the bar itself is beautiful.

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California cocktails – as if you needed another reason to head West.  Til next time.

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