Negroni Menu at Pizzeria Ortica, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican
The Sunday Negroni, in all its glory

Earlier this month, OC's best bars celebrated Negroni Week, slinging out their version of the legendarily bitter cocktail. All the usual suspects played along--Anepalco's, 320 Main, Little Sparrow, Broadway, and so many others. But only Pizzeria Ortica is going to pay it forward by instituting a full-scale Negroni menu from here until all the Campari on earth is gone.

Bartenders Joel Caruso and Aristotle Altstaetter just took the hooch they created for Negroni Week, and made it part of their spectacular roster.

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Lemon Drop at Bistango, Our Drink of the Week!

Edwin Goei
Drop it like it's hot.
Bistango's Happy Hour isn't the kind of Happy Hour you can ever be late for. On weekdays, it starts at 4 p.m. and lasts until it closes. On Saturdays, it goes from 5:30 p.m. to closing. During this time, the parking becomes free and plentiful, the food is discounted all night, and the booze is slashed to about half off the regular prices. How it can do this and why it does this can be answered in three words: because it can. In restaurant years, Bistango is a senior citizen and it hasn't lasted 28 years in the same spot tucked in between tech, bio, and financial firms without knowing who its core audience is and what they want.

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Amaro Dell'Erborista, Our Drink of (Last) Week!

Photo by Break of Dawn

"It tastes like the barnyard," Gabrielle Dion of The Mixing Glass told me as I eyed the Amaro Dell'Erborista, a gigantic digestif bottle on display at her charming cocktail shop within the OC Mix. Some time later, an employee was a little bit more succinct: "It tastes like a horse's ass."

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Champagne Cocktails at Gypsy Den Santa Ana, Our Drink of the Week!

Pablo Castillo
Soon you'll be able to swap out red wine for tequila... but go now anyway.

Downtown Santa Ana has a bar for almost every need; karaoke, beer, gay bars, live music, dive, wine, tapas, high-end and even a couple left over for paisas. Really the only thing missing from the scene is a lounge, a place with soft couches, dim lights and the music turned down low.

That's not quite true, actually: the Gypsy Den is a lounge, but it historically only served beer and wine, meaning that while it's a fantastic place to end up the evening on a first or second date, the drinks menu is limited.

Happily, the Gypsy Den received their full liquor license and are in the process of having the city update their conditional use permit; in the immediate future, they'll fit that niche, and the owner is re-decorating the place to match. The bar area will be more inviting, there'll be more places to sit and catch up, and the pool table will be gone, but most importantly, there'll be cocktails.

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Tincup American Whiskey, Our Drink of (Last) Week!

Photo by The Mexican
Hola, Colonel Sanders!

Back in 2013, when I sung the praises of Colorado's Stranahan Whiskey and complained that Hi-Time Wine Cellar didn't stock it, a kind soul sent me a bottle of Tincup American Whiskey. "Hi-Time sells it," he said, "and it's a great Colorado whiskey." I put it in my collection, and went on to other drinks.

Fast-forward to earlier this year, when Hi-Time let me know they now carry Stranahan's--HELL YA! In its honor, I finally cracked open the Tincup and found an able, cheaper companion.

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No Nanches! at Anepalco's at the ALO Hotel, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican

The great thing about chingones bartenders Cesar Cerrudo and Joe Valdovinos working under Danny Godinez at Anepalco's at the ALO Hotel (recently renamed from its former incarnation as the Ayres Inn) is that they're proud of being raza. That means that in addition to Cerrudo and Valdovinos mastering all the classic cocktails, Godinez encourages them to work their mutual Latino heritage into drinks beyond spirits. That's how they've come up with No Nanches! which uses the beloved Central American fruit nance.

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Bay Area Daisy at the Fairmont Newport Beach, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican

Last week was my annual meet-and-greet with the jefe at the Fairmont Newport Beach. As usual, the conversation was...illuminating. As usual, the cocktails flowed. As I've written before, the Fairmont has really stepped up its cocktail program in the past couple of years, rotating with the seasons and emphasizing innovation. And as usual, I found a new drink to obsess over in the Bay Area Daisy.

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Orange Blossom Mead from Golden Coast Mead, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican
An orange blossom special if ever there was one...

I always proclaim to anyone within earshot that I do not like beer, that I find it too astringent, too hoppy, too borracho. But I've crafted a special exemption to this rule in the form mead. It beckons to the sweet tooth in me, it's old-school as hell, and my chica introduced it to me at the Renaissance Faire, which we'll be attending in a couple of weeks.

Now, finally, I can join the lushes at C4 in earnest because they stock a great one: Orange Blossom Mead from Golden Coast Mead in Oceanside.

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World Value Reds at Vino Volo, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican
Getting all fancy and shit...

It's easy to dismiss Vino Volo at John Wayne Airport--it's a chain, it serves wine, and the only people there seem to be mid-level managers putting the finishing touches on their PowerPoints. But if you're looking to booze, it's the best bargain at the airport. Nearly all the other spots serving alcohol either have unimaginative cocktails or gouge the hell out of you. Vino Volo, on the other hand, offers reasonable, delicious flights. Consider the World Value Reds.

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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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