3. Arette Tequila Añejo
Without a doubt, the finest tequila in existence. (Go ahead, argue the point.) This is what I pull out in small measures--it's expensive--to prove to people who had hangover after hangover due to Cuervo Gold in college that there is more to tequila than red Solo cups full of neon green sugar syrup. Smooth, aged, with the unmistakable grassy tang of blue agave. Don't you dare use it in a cocktail; just sip it like Scotch.
2. ESB at Noble Ale Works
Ask me what beer most often graces my refrigerator, and I'll pull out a brown growler full of ESB from Noble Ale Works in Anaheim. It's a beer that works for everyone; a step toward real beer for Budweiser drinkers, a compromise on hops for IPA wonks, and roasty-toasty enough for Newcastle swillers. Also, it's made walking distance from my house--that counts for a lot.
1. The Crippled Creek at 320 Main
One night at the Orange County Bartender's Cabinet meeting
, we'd had several delicious rum and cachaça drinks at Side Door
in Corona del Mar
and Jason Schiffer
told me he was trying to make a cocktail with mustard. I told him he was insane, and about two weeks later, he slid a Crippled Creek
in front of me at his bar. I have no idea how he managed to do it, but he created a cocktail that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Don't forget to eat the garnish; it's essential to the enjoyment of the drink.
240 S. Brea Blvd., Brea, CA
1621 S. Sinclair St., Anaheim, CA