Stenson Salute From The RANCH Restaurant, Our Drink of the Week

Anne Marie Panoringan
Orange you ready to try one?

The RANCH's wine collection almost outshines its solid menu, but what you might overlook is their desire to pour a memorable cocktail. Resident mixologist Dan Minjares will conjure up classics and twists incorporating produce grown from their garden in Orange Park Acres. A perfect example is Dan's hat tip to a well-known bartender, the Stenson Salute. It honors one Murry Stenson, legendary in his industry for a beverage he brought back into mainstream named The Last Word.

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Bourbon for Breakfast From The Corner, Our Drink of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
B is for bartender, as in "We'll have another!"

Where you go drink is often in direct correlation with the company you keep. People you want to impress? The painfully crowded, trendy place that recently opened. But when you're a party of one who craves a single beverage, informality is key. The trick is finding a spot that's convenient.

You may be lucky enough to frequent a location that's walkable. The rest of us hope to find something in our neighborhood. In the case of The Corner, it was en route to a destination.

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Libre Mango Silver Tequila, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican

"This is chick tequila," I told my pal after tasting a shot of Libre Mango Silver Tequila. I didn't mean that in an insulting way--I like chicks, for starters. But there was no other way to describe it. The chain that binds the cap to the bottle 'til a bar brawl do them part. The stylized feather logo, more Coachella afterparty than Mexican anything. The squat bottle, almost Venus of Willendorf in its allure.

And the smell--oh, what a smell. Straight-up mango, redolent of beaches, tanned chicks, and sexytimes--awesome. But as a serious drink? "Not real tequila," I told my friend. Then I saw the rest of the bottle: a sticker that says "Non-traditional," and another deeming it "liqueur." And then it dawned on me: Libre is genius.

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Sangria Sampler at Lazy Dog Cafe, Our Drink of the Week!

Edwin Goei
Down with the doggies.

There are already a few OC restaurants that let you bring the dog. But the Lazy Dog chain pretty much invites your pooch to come along. You have to sit outside, of course, with the other pet parents, but the patio is exactly the place you want to dine at Lazy Dog when these hot early-summer days turn into warm evenings. For a nominal fee, there's even a menu for Fido: either burger or chicken, served with brown rice. And a bowl of water is always complimentary.

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Ortica Vesper From Pizzeria Ortica, Our Drink of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
No fear

When it's time to meet for a drink, you probably drive somewhere next to the workplace. It's familiar, right? Here's the thing--you're kind of missing out. We're not saying you need to drive two cities over for happy hour. Just try a few blocks over. Or in the case of Pizzeria Ortica, drive towards Costa Mesa.

Their bar is at the far end of a long counter top that begins in the kitchen and meanders down the length of the restaurant. The open feel makes for a relaxed vibe that's often buzzing the hour before showtime. Once the curtain rises, there's room to pull up a chair and engage in some serious drinking. If you find yourself here, try a Vesper.

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Mitch Bechard Is OC's Glenfiddich Ambassador--and a Surfin' Scotsman, Too!

Photo by John Gilhooley
Drink--and surf--up!

The national ambassador for a single-malt Scotch whisky ought to be one of two things: a dark-suited, conservative, obviously upper-class white man who looks as if he just stepped out of the Pacific Club, or a walking, talking Scottish stereotype, replete with tartan kilt, sporran, ungainly red beard and impenetrable accent.

Mitch Bechard, the U.S. ambassador for Glenfiddich whisky, is neither of those.

He is Scottish (born and raised in Edinburgh), and he does have the necessary accent, though it's not terribly thick. He does own a kilt, though he would be more likely to wear it with Doc Martens. But Bechard, who lives in Irvine, is more likely to be in board shorts and sunglasses, haunting Blackies Beach when not pouring out tastes across Southern California.

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Tea Party at Anepalco's at the Ayres, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican

Chingón bartender Joe Valdovinos has moved on from Playground, landing at Anepalco's at the Ayres in Orange and giving owner Danny Godínez a Latino Dream Team. Cesar Cerrudo still mans the bar here, but Valdovinos is now his back-up--the greatest pinch-hitter since Manny Mota.

He only started last week, but is already raising desmadre with his drinks, many using Ilegal Mezcal due to Valdovinos' association with the fine brand. Principal among them is a special he whipped up just the other night: the Tea Party.

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Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, Our Drink of the Week!

Thumbnail image for cappuccino-kean.JPG
OC Weekly archives
Imagine this, but in stout form

I like my beer how I like my men: tall, dark, and handsome. For me, lighter-colored beers literally pale in comparison to the full-bodied, complex flavor experience offered by porters and stouts. I especially enjoy dark beers that integrate coffee grounds into their brew. Judging by label alone, then, Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout had already checked off all my dark beer boxes when I saw it on display at Total Wine and More. What I found, though, was a beer that even pale ale zealots could love.

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Tennessee Side Car at Center Club OC, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican

Not only do you need to know someone to enter the private Center Club in Costa Mesa, you need to know someone who knows someone. Tucked away in the recesses near the Segerstrom Center parking structure, it's the type of place that people like you and I never enter unless we work for UPS, wash dishes for a living, or your boss decides to invite you to his daughter's wedding. So how the hell did I sneak in? I know someone who knows someone who knows someone...HA!

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Poke And A Smoke From 25 Degrees, Our Drink of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
But do we get cuddle time?

25 Degrees pours its liquid courage to a shorts-and-tank top crowd blocks from the pier. There's also a creative selection of brats, burgers and bites (Get the tempura green & yellow beans!) to soak up all that goodness, but patrons are clearly here to sip first.

Inside their dimly lit dining room, your gaze will get quickly drawn to one cocktail. After placing the request for their Poke and a Smoke, you'd be forgiven to half-expect the server to coyly inform you what time they got off work. Wouldn't you?

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