Reverse Sazerac at Pizzeria Ortica, Our Drink of (Last) Week!

Photo by The Mexican
Drink up!

Joel Caruso and Aristotle Alstaetter are building up an amaro and bitters collection at Pizzeria Ortica that can act as a booze Seed Vault in the event of Doomsday. The one they're playing around with right now is Contratto bitters, a sweet, fragrant bitter better than Aperol. You can sip it neat, drink it in one of their Italian-inspired cocktails. Or, better yet, get at it through a Reverse Sazerac.

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Four Sons Brewing's Going (Coco) Nuts, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by Charles Lam
Looks friendly

Going (Coco) Nuts doesn't taste the way it looks. Try the Four Sons Brewery beer blind, and you'd expect it to be dark and foreboding due to the chocolate-y, coconut-y, spiciness of the beer, but open your eyes and it's a nice friendly translucent amber.

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Mesa III at Cistmontane Brewery Tasting Room, Our Drink of (Last) Week!

Photo by The Mexican

My aversion to beer is well-known to the faithful lushes who read this column. But I couldn't pass up a chance to hang out with the Orange County chapter of MENSA at Cistmontane Brewery's tasting room in SanTana earlier this month when they asked me to blabber for an hour. The kind nerds tried to ply me with beer after beer after beer--nothing worked until they got me the Mesa II.

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Westhope Cabernet Sauvignon, Our Drink of LAST Week!

Meloni Janzen Designs photo courtesy of Girouard Vines
It came from an Okie barrel.

Discovering a ripping California Cabernet in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, wine bar is mind-blowing enough, but learning that particular cab is only available there? Cue up the trumpets in the sky because the apocalypse is here. A pre-wedding party brought me to Girouard Vines, which is in an Art Deco building that anchors downtown Tulsa's East Village District, where I was smitten by my glass (times seven) of Westhope Cabernet Sauvignon, the second wine to come from the establishment's Tulsa Deco series. Westhope, which is depicted on the label, is the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structure in Tulsa, the residence of Tulsa Tribune founder Richard Lloyd Jones.

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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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