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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Bloody Mary Cart at Fig & Olive, Our Drink of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
Sunday Bloody Sunday

We suspect most folks actually rise for brunch because it's the legit daytime meal for boozin'. Orange juice in your champagne? Sure, but seasoned pros always go for the Bloody Mary The problem with the drink, though, is that every restaurant interprets it differently, leading to wins in some places, face-plants in others.

Fortunately, the fancy mix masters at Fashion Island's Fig & Olive have got you covered. A mobile Bloody Mary station will now cart over upon request, ready for action.

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Sorachi Ace Showers Double IPA at Noble Ale Works, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by Cleo Tobbi
Refreshing as a shower

If you've been keeping up with Noble Ale Works and their single-hopped Double IPA Showers Series, you know their Sorachi Ace Showers (not sriracha) is their 13th installment of the series, following storied hops such as Citra, Mosaic, and El Dorado. And oh is it delicious.

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Batavia Arrack van Oosten, Our Drink of the Week

Photo by The Mexican
Just a sample of the ol' liquor cart...

Every time I visit Hi-Time Wine Cellar nowadays, I buy myself a rum--have I written this already, the last time I wrote about a rum from the Costa Mesa playground of the boozehounds? Maybe. Anyhoo, this time around, I thought I bought a Javanese rum when I got Batavia Arrack van Oosten, whose beautiful emerald bottle I see in the finest OC establishments. But it turns out arrack is its own spirit, a sugarcane-derived drink spiked with red rice. Yum!

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Vieux Carre at Marché Moderne, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican
Liquid courage to confront the maddening crowd

I made the mistake of going to South Coast Plaza for my holiday shopping. The crowds! The parking! The endless Christmas cheer (I make Ebenezer Scrooge seem as jovial as Howdy Doody). But it was worth it--it was for the wifey, after all. And after we were done, we relaxed with lunch at Marché Moderne.

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The Andalusian at Lark Creek, Our Drink of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
It's a what?

The original Lark Creek in Marin County shuttered its doors this year, after a 25-year occupancy inside The Lark Creek Inn. They had little choice, as a furnace fire left extensive damage to the property. Yet their seasonal, sustainable and farm-fresh philosophy continues throughout their many properties up and down the state.

With an evolving menu, this lone Southern California branch of Lark Creek also makes a point of introducing a few new libations every season for good measure. And the one that gets the ol' DOTW treatment this time around is the Andalusian.

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Grapes of Wrath at The Melting Pot, Our Drink of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
This one time, at The Melting Pot . . .

You know that place you'd frequent after work? If you're by John Wayne, that's probably Classic Q. Once upon a time, mine was The Melting Pot. Instead of the most expensive DIY-meal in the county (that wasn't shabu), I'd score their deal at the bar--a salad, drink and cheese course for about half the cost. This is where my cocktail education started, where everything I sipped a decade ago had a pretty, candy hue--sorry not sorry, because I learned well.

Nowadays, visits happen about once a year. Very little has changed, but there's something to be said for familiarity. December is the only month they serve both lunch and dinner, and it shows--the Friday I visited, couples overran the spot, forty-somethings sharing glasses of wine and flutes with rosy bubbles. Narrowly avoiding the Sour Patch 'tini and predictable Lemon Drop, I settled on a hybrid of sorts in the Grapes of Wrath.

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Sayuri Nigori Sake at Kotobuki Sushi, Our Drink of the Week!

Edwin Goei
So kawaii!

Kotobuki Sushi in Laguna Hills is one of those neighborhood sushi bars that reminds me how far along we've come in embracing sushi into our stomachs and our culture. It was recommended to me by a friend who wasn't Asian and when I ate there there were no Asian faces anywhere in the restaurant except those of the people who were cutting the fish.

It's been around 25 years, not exactly in this spot, but a few yards away in the same plaza that also has Break of Dawn. The landlord relocated both of them to their present locations a few months ago to make way for apartments. And here Kotobuki will stay for probably another 25 or until its head sushi chef and owner decides it's time to hang up the knives.

You'd, however, be wrong to assume that Kotobuki doesn't offer omakase (it does). And when you do order it, you should wash it down with what seems to be the house drink: the Sayuri Nigori Sake.

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Gustavo's Top 5 Drinks of 2014!

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Photo by The Mexican
How I start every morning...

Another year, another eighth of my liver gone in the name of good journalism. Uh-oh...my delirium tremens are setting in, so let's make this one quick!

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