Sangrita at Lola Gaspar, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican
Drink up!

It's been awesome to see lovers of Mexican spirits not only embrace craft beers, mezcal, and more, but to even ape Mexican borracho traditions. Consider sangrita, a Mexican digestif of sorts. For decades, classy drunks would use a shot of sangrita as a chaser for a shot of tequila, just to show how chingón they were. The custom never made it into the United States, unfortunately, where gabachos are fully content to suck on limes and lick their palmful of salt as their tequila sunrise--¡que pendejos!

But sangrita is making a huge move in OC's better bars, and not via the processed punch that is Viuda de Sanchez, the Cuervo of sangrita brands. Places like Anepalco's and Lola Gaspar are making in-house versions, stunning beverages that nearly serve as proper meals. Consider Lola's take.

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Greenshift IPA at Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by Sarah Bennett
Get drinkin'!
For the last three years, Long Beach's Beachwood BBQ and Brewing has been blowing minds and winning awards with a slew of impressive house beers made by rocket-scientist-turned-professional-brewer Julian Shrago. Gold medals for concoctions like milk stout Udder Love, Foam Top cream ale and El Verano saison (plus half a dozen others) line the walls at the LBC offshoot of Seal Beach's original Beachwood BBQ, and most days, beer geeks--decked in The Bruery and Russian River Brewing Company shirts--saddle up to sip on bragging rights at its wooden bar.

Though Shrago has yet to win an actual award for any of his hop-forward brews, it's common local knowledge that the man absolutely kills it when it comes to American-style pale ales and IPAs. After all, he's made more than 40 of them since first firing up the kettle in July 2011--everything from the cirtusy, Grand Prix-themed Pole Position to the decadent Beachwood 7, brewed with seven malts and seven hops for Seal Beach Beachwood's seventh anniversary.

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Magical Star Cocktail at Hearthstone Lounge at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by the Elmo Monster
World of a glass.

If the tiki-tastic Trader Sam's is the Space Mountain of Disney's many hotel bars, Hearthstone Lounge is the Disneyland Railroad: It's not very exciting, but it gets you there. Heck, you may not have even heard of it. I didn't and I've been inside lobby of the Disney Grand Californian Hotel at least a dozen times, never realizing there was a bar in my midst hidden inside an alcove just left of the grand fireplace.

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MJoe from TAPS Fish House, Our Drink of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
Just a little thirsty

Every delicious beer has a compelling tale behind it. I first noticed MJoe at a recent beer festival in OC. However, this is the second summer Victor Novak of TAPS was serving his ale. When we asked Novak for more on this liquid nourishment, here's what he shared:

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Heineken's BrewLock System At Zimzala In Shorebreak Hotel, Our Drink of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
Clean, green, Brew Lock machine

While we live in a county best known for our craft breweries, I am reminded of an older regime, one where foreign brands were more popular. To spread their reach, Heineken Beer added family members like Newcastle and Dos Equis: A wise move on their part, but the explosion of microbrewries began to inch them out of the US. They may be a recognizable name, yet drinkers were more inclined to support local. Heineken needed a plan to keep up.

I found myself sitting across from Dolf Van Den Brink, President and CEO of Heineken USA. He arrived to celebrate the West Coast launch of their newest project, showcased at the bar inside Zimzala at Shorebreak in HB.

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Fizz Friday at Ways and Means Oyster House, Our Drink of the Week!

Dave Lieberman
Roll up like Gatsby and order oysters and Champagne... dapper suit and bespoke shirt optional.
One of the best experiences in France is sitting at the café at the end of the St.-Antoine outdoor market in Lyon, eating oysters and drinking wine, basking in the sunshine, and watching the Saône river float lazily by.

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Cucumber Cobbler at Aqua Lounge at the Island Hotel Newport Beach, Our Drink of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
June 27 cannot arrive soon enough

I was supposed to meet someone for a drink at the lounge inside the Island Hotel last month. Instead, I found the property deep in construction mode. The "bar" was a handful of stools across from check-in. Turns out it had been this way for months, with a buffet-style cafe set up for hotel guests on the second floor. I left wondering what would become of the space formerly known as Palm Terrace.

That answer was explained when we met the management team of Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge. While Chef David Man continues to oversee food service for Island Hotel guests and groups, a complete overhaul of the dining space led to the creation of two concepts meant to break the stereotype of ho-hum hotel dining.

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Grand Poppy Liqueur, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican
Drink up!
Grand Poppy Liqueur

Oh, those crazy kids at Hi-Time WIne Cellar in Costa Mesa! When I tweeted out I was in the market for a new aperitif, they suggested Grand Poppy Liqueur. How did they know that just a day before, I had tasted it at Pizzeria Ortica, immediately fell in love with it, and announced to no one in particular, "Man, I gotta go to Hi-Time soon so I could get a bottle of the stuff!" Are they Matrix-ing me or something? CRAZY!

Bottled by Greenbar Craft Distillery in Los Angeles, this is a drink that my late, great amigo Huell Howser would've loved, and not just because of its name, its Jazz Age-style font, and the big ol' poppy that serves as the logo. All the botanicals used to make Grand Poppy are organic and California-raised, and Greenbar pledges to plant a tree for every bottle sold. But nice intentions are good and all--how about the taste? Spectacular.

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Dave to Demonstrate Negroni-Making At the Yost Theater This Thursday!

Flickr user Chodhound, via Creative Commons
Bitter + sweet + alcoholic = the world's most perfect aperitif.
It's Negroni Week! Wait, what the heck is a Negroni?

I'll be making a rare public appearance at the Yost Theater in downtown Santa Ana during the DTSA Farmers Market this Thursday, June 5, at 5:30 p.m. to explain the sordid history of the cocktail we're celebrating this week.

Then I'll dust off my bartender gear and demonstrate three takes on the Negroni. You'll learn to make a classic Negroni, a Boulevardier (a whiskey Negroni), and a Quitapenas (a mezcal Negroni). Once the demonstration is over, the drinks will be available at the Yost's bar.

One dollar for each Negroni sold will go to Inspire Artistic Minds, a local 501(c)3 organization that funds continuing education for people in the visual or culinary arts.

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Dry-Hopped Cider at Phantom Ales, Our Drink of the Week!

Dave Lieberman
At times there are other ciders, including peach cider and perry--the only place in Orange County that does it.
While we'll never catch up to San Diego for number of beer breweries per capita, Orange County is going through a second round of brewery openings lately. Anaheim in particular is trying to attract breweries, with local politicians promising smooth sailing for conditional-use permits and landlords in hard-hit industrial parks eager to have a steady stream of rent in what would otherwise be abandoned warehouses.

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