Shopping Bagged

Deck the malls with rounds of Stoli

Photo by Tenaya HillsBy our estimates, the three Stepford-by-way-of-Newport blondes had been drinking champagne inside Quattro for more than an hour, chasing their tiny sips with high-pitched giggles and nonchalant twists of their wedding bands. Invariably, every seven minutes or so, one of them would gasp, "You spent how much at Tiffany's?" and then give a kind of silly-ol'-buzzed-me teeter and lose her footing, kicking the pile of Coach, Williams-Sonoma and La Perla shopping bags stuffed beneath her barstool. Only—and maybe it was just us—it seemed incomprehensible that these women were actually that drunk. Drunk with credit-card bonuses and a few pairs of bitchen Jimmy Choo shoes, perhaps, but let's be reasonable: they were still on their first round. Of champagne. Weak, ladies! Weak!

Of course, it was possible, we supposed, these women had braved the Black Friday SigAlerts and arrived at South Coast Plaza not to swill, but instead to shop. But, um, why? What with it being the second-biggest shopping day of the year and all, wasn't it the day for sloshed shopping? Apparently not. Maybe that was just us. Again.

"Mostly, we get a lot of husbands who just want to drink and watch the game on TV," said the bartender at Quattro, which boasts a quaint-but-fully stocked bar with six stools and is conveniently sandwiched between Jimmy Choo and Giorgio Armani. "They let their wives do the shopping—with their money."

However, he said, occasionally the wives will arrive in packs and purposely knock a few rounds back. Their drinks of choice? Lemon-drop martinis and white wine—although the bartender noted he makes a wicked Long Island iced tea for the daring, replacing tequila with whiskey.

Yet while Quattro is the smallest bar in South Coast Plaza, it's by no means the only one, and even though it appeared that few people were game for drunk shopping on Black Friday, that doesn't mean you can't get a little—or a lot—wasted during your holiday shopping. In fact, exiting Quattro, you simply stumble toward Benetton—making stops at Lacoste and Swatch—hang a left at the carousel and swing into the Rainforest Café's Magic Mushroom Bar. There, bar patrons sit on barstools shaped like zebra and giraffe asses and guzzle formidable—for novelty drinks—toddies with names like the Margarilla and, duh, Jungle Punch. But be warned: despite the sports-bar-meets-Disneyland's-jungle-cruise décor—which we found heavenly—the bartenders at Rainforest are more interested in hawking appetizers than getting you loaded—and with good reason, since it's a family- and mechanical-gorilla-friendly joint—which makes for, oh, a fun 10 minutes but not much more.

So, obviously, it's back toward the carousel, a nap at Brookstone in their massage chair, and then off to the heated outdoor patio at Z'Tejas, whose appetizers are much more worthy of being hawked and whose Prickly Pear Margarita—start out with a small one and work your way up—will leave you absolutely hammered and within footsteps of such sober-up stores as Banana Republic, American Eagle Outfitters and Express.

Following this—and ignoring Claim Jumper, the unwanted fruit cake of South Coast's watering holes—it's up the escalator and straight toward the Clubhouse. If you don't pass out at the mere sight of the bar's extensive—more than 70!—martini menu, then a round of Flirtinis—with gummy fish!—will go down as quickly as your depleting savings. Champagne not your thing? Try the Maker's Mark Manhattan or the espresso martini with kahlua and Stoli vanilla. It'll wake you up for the drive—er, taxi ride—home.

 
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