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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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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