Wasmund's Single Malt Spirit, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by The Mexican
Drink (and shoot) up!

Every year when the chica and I travel to Kentucky for the 127 Yard Sale, I challenge meself to find a great booze that even Hi-Time Wine Cellars doesn't have. And I had a bumper crop this year: Kentucky rums, Tennessee white dog, even some crazy-ass Colombian coffee liquor that I picked up at the Willet distillery in Bardstown that had sat forgotten in a warehouse on the property for decades (the story is true: I can't find any traces of it online.)

But the drink I'm highlighting here is Wasmund's Single Malt Spirit out of the Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, Virginia. Hi-Time, God bless their souls, carries Wasmund's Rye Spirit, but not this beaut, which I found in the Hi-Time of the South: the gargantuan Party Source in Bellevue, Kentucky (note to Hi-Time: they have a liquor library where folks can buy shots for sampling. Hint hint?)

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Cucumber Collins at Catal Restaurant, Our Drink of the Week!

Edwin Goei
Cucumber Collins
You're in Downtown Disney. You want a cocktail. Maybe a bite of something small. Something like tapas. Is there tapas in Downtown Disney? Yes, in fact, there is. And it's been here all along. Catal Restaurant has offered a Spanish-leaning menu since there was a Downtown Disney. Sure, they call the patatas bravas "Brava Potatoes" just so it's a little more tourist-friendly, but it's served with toothpicks, a piquillo pepper-tomato coulis and slathers of garlic aioli. There's chorizo and chimichurri stuffed into the calamari, and goat cheese stuffed into the piquillo peppers. There may not be paella, but the rest of the apps is very Spanish where manchego and catalan olives rule.

And for drinking there is, of course, sangria--two kinds, in fact. But with the weather outside balmy you want something even more refreshing than sangria. Enter the Cucumber Collins, a drink that the menu actually bills as "the official drink of summer."

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Duchesse de Bourgogne, Our Drink of the Week!

Courtney Hamilton

I first encountered Duchesse de Bourgogne in a beer flight at Slater's 50/50. Upon first sip of the reddish-brown ale, the other beers in the flight ceased to be relevant. Don't blame the other beers though; the distinct, mouth-puckering sourness of the Duchesse makes it a show-stealer next to anything.

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Oh, Henry at Umami Burger Irvine Spectrum, Our Drink of the Week!

Anne Marie Panoringan
Oh yes, they did!

Umami Burger's aggressive invasion of Orange County has been a success so far. So how do they remain relevant and not just another chain in Irvineland? Team up with an established comedy club and exploit the full liquor license!

Improv's mini-move within the concrete jungle of the Spectrum and into their custom-built space was calculated and beneficial, as much of the foot traffic is skewed towards Edwards (except everyone's favorite shopping destination, Target.) and its super-sized parking structure .

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Rainier Lager, Our Drink of the Week!

Photo by Charles Lam
Oh, Vitamin R..

There's something to be said about cheap beer. No, you're not going to get any tasting epiphanies out of it. You're not going to spend your time slowly sipping away to deconstruct any flavor profiles either. But sometimes, when you get home from work or back from the gym, you just want something that's simple, clean, cheap, and easy to drink.

With that in mind, I present to you Rainier Lager, the best cheap beer I've ever had.

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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 Color...in 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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