Surfrider American Pale Ale, Our Drink of the Week!

Matt Coker
The Dudes abide.

Heading into this hot-and-humid-as-H-E-double-matchsticks summer, I decided that for the season I'd put aside my usual suspects--India pale ales, double IPAs and anything with enough alcohol by volume to choke a Clydesdale--in favor of brews I could drink vats of without the resulting headaches, hangovers and trips before the judge. One of my favorite session beers, as the boys in twirly mustaches call them, was served at the Surfrider Foundation's 31st birthday celebration at their San Clemente headquarters on Aug. 12.

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Oaxacan Sasparilla from Lola Gaspar, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by Charisma Madarang
Grab one, partner

"Mescal was something you drank when someone died, married or moved away," says Jefferson VanBilliard, the man behind the bar at Downtown Santa Ana's Lola Gaspar.

I wonder which one I'm drinking to. Despite its surname, the Oaxacan Sarsaparilla at Lola Gaspar is devoid of the vanilla-soaked soft drink. Rather, it's an ode to Hollywood's Old Wild West -- leathery cowboys siping their medicine with a splash of cherry on a film set.

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The #1 Cocktail At Mr. BBQ, Our Drink Of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
Grilling and chilling

When you go out to drink, eating is often an afterthought. It's when you dine out that restaurants leave cocktail menus and discuss wine pairings. Ordering water is fine and saves you money, but foods taste better with the right beverage. Pizza and beer; steak with a glass of red. Anyone?

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Barton 1792 Chocolate Bourbon Ball Cream Liqueur, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by Clockwork Coker
Follow the frog

Greetings from the Bluegrass State, gentle cabrones! My wife and I are in the midst of our annual sojourn to the South for the 127 Yard Sale, which is like the Rose Bowl Flea Market spread over 700 miles and three times cheaper. We've also hit up the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and there's a lot of great things happening in the booze world here that'll hit us in a couple of years. You can special order some from Hi-Time, I'm sure, or have a friend in Kentucky go to a liquor store and buy a bottle.

But what might be the hardest get of them all is also one of the cheapest and sweetest: Barton 1792 Chocolate Bourbon Ball Cream Liqueur.

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1 Barrel Rum at Hi-Time Wine Cellar, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican
Drink it up!

"Rum might just be the next hot thing in the spirits market," Mr. Hi-Time told me this week, and what he says is TRUTH. I was happy to see that his shop, the eponymous Hi-Time Wine Cellar, has started stocking Buffalo Trace bourbon cream, which I w rote about years ago. But rum's going to be the Next Big Thing? I've been seeing rarities pop up in bars recently, from Guyana, Indonesia and even Spain, so I asked Mr. Hi-Time what should I try. He said to go with 1 Barrel Rum from Belize, so I did.

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Kettle Cup at Kettlebar, Our Drink of the Week!

Edwin Goei
That's more than a cup!

You've got to hurry if you're going to make it to Kettlebar's Happy Hour. It starts at 3 p.m., ends promptly at 6 p.m., and only offered on weekdays. But you want in on these discounts. They're significant. Some items on the Happy Hour list are marked down to half off. And they're things you'd actually want to eat with alcohol. You know, crunchy deep fried food, especially the greaseless soft shell crab with a chipotle aioli dip and the hot wings dusted with dry rub. It's easy to do the bar math and skip Kettlebar's full-on pan roasts, which isn't discounted, because that's at least five more draft beers you could be drinking instead.

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Jacoby at Cafe Hidalgo, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican
Bottom's up!

I had been to Cafe Hidalgo in Fullerton twice in the last decade until this past weekend--for a gorgeous wedding, and for a dinner where my insults toward my ex's guy at the time made her fall in love with me all over again, which made me waste another year of my life with her. Um yeah...but anyhoo, a baby shower brought me to the DTF classic. The party was catered with an open bar--score! Alas, the regular drink menu is chockablock with margaritas and martinis, so leave it to my resourceful wife to discover an off-the-menu drink: the Jacoby, named after the suave bartender who regaled us with its ingredients.

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The Adult Milkshake at Del Frisco's Grille, Our Drink of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
It brings all the boys to the Spectrum

Say you end up at Irvine Spectrum, hungry on an off night. You decide to check out that place that was formerly a parking lot. No, the other one, the one called Del Frisco's. It's the approachable sibling to the white-linen, fine-dining steakhouse.

Look inside, and the most notable detail isn't the 401-maximum headroom or the excessive use of dangling light bulbs as d├ęcor. No, you'll realize it's bro night. The late-30-to-40-something answer to Yard House, minus the smoking patio. Guys seated in large groups after work, swigging wine and commiserating. Like a gender-neutral man cave, but with the option to valet.

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Gin Fuego at The North Left, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican
Muy caliente!

Aron Habiger and Ashley Guzman are not only keeping it 100 at the North Left, they've upping the game. Every Thursday brings a farm-to-table night, where the two get items from the Santa Monica and SanTana's farmers' market and transform them into four-course masterpieces. They offer a wine-pairing men as well, but ustedes know me: I'm a true drunk. So I'm glad to report that not only does the North Left have new cocktails, they're all awesome--especially the Gin Fuego.

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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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