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The Orange County Bartenders Cabinet Shake It Up

The group of county libation crafters is teaching you to drink as you've never drunk before

Robold was blown away. "You can make a drink with absinthe and beet juice, and it can be delicious," he says. While he's annoyed at slavish devotion to technique, Robold geeks out at discoveries such as shaking egg white-laced Ramos gin fizzes with one single Kold Draft ice cube instead of a shakerful.

His advice to home cocktailers: have fun. "If you can't have fun with cocktails, you're doing something wrong," Robold says. "Oh, and plant some mint; it will save you a lot of money in the long run if you just grow your own."

 

Matt Robold:
Not your father's tiki master
John Gilhooley
Matt Robold: Not your father's tiki master
The Michigander: Now on the West Coast
John Gilhooley
The Michigander: Now on the West Coast
Ricky Yarnall:
Looking debonair behind the bar at Broadway
John Gilhooley
Ricky Yarnall: Looking debonair behind the bar at Broadway
Ten-Cent Pistol:
Good to the last drop
and worth every penny
John Gilhooley
Ten-Cent Pistol: Good to the last drop and worth every penny
Felicia Chavez:
Save the wine for another time
John Gilhooley
Felicia Chavez: Save the wine for another time
The Love Letter:
Don't be fooled. It bites
Lyudmila Zotova
The Love Letter: Don't be fooled. It bites

Location Info

Map

Memphis At The Santora

201 N. Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Category: Restaurant > Southern

Region: Santa Ana

320 Main

320 Main St.
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Seal Beach

Broadway By Amar Santana

328 Glenneyre St.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Laguna Beach

Two 40 South

240 S. Brea Blvd.
Brea, CA 92821

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Brea

Bar and Kitchen

819 S. Flower St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Los Angeles

Details

OC Weekly/KCRW Happy Hour at Memphis At the Santora, memphiscafe.com. Tues., 7 p.m. Free.

Bartenders interested in attending the Orange County Bartenders Cabinet should visit the group's website at bartenderscabinet.com.

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LOOK NORMAL
2 oz. Matusalem white rum
0.75 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
0.5 oz. orgeat syrup
2 tsp. absinthe
1 tsp. maraschino liqueur

Instructions
Shake with half-cube, half-crushed ice, then strain into a glass over crushed ice. Garnish with an orange twist and a maraschino cherry.

* * *

RICKY YARNALL
Memphis At the Santora

201 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 564-1064; memphiscafe.com.

Broadway By Amar Santana
328 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, (949) 715-8234; www.broadwaybyamarsantana.com.

Bar and Kitchen
819 S. Flower St., Los Angeles, (213) 784-3048; www.barandkitchenla.com.

Ricky Yarnall is a busy man, with three separate bartending gigs in two counties. (Yes, LA, you get some Ricky time, too.) He started as a server at the defunct Market City Caffe in Brea; when the bar came up shorthanded, he started slinging drinks there. His talent moved him to Rockin' Taco Cantina in Fullerton and its successor, Matador Cantina. From there, he moved on to Memphis At the Santora, where Yarnall apprenticed under legendary bartender Johnny Sampson. His renown is now such that Memphis advertises every other Wednesday as "Wednesdays With Ricky," during which Yarnall will pick a liquor and make three cocktails from it.

Still, Yarnell dreams big. "I'd like to bring back the gin martini," he says. "I hope it's stirred, and I pray there's more than a few drops of vermouth. I prefer mine with orange bitters, but I know sometimes that's asking a lot."

According to Yarnall, the serious home cocktailer needs to read The Savoy Cocktail Book and The Joy of Mixology. "Find recipes that sound good to you and make them exactly as they are written," he says. "After that, tweak them a little bit to suit your taste."

 

TEN-CENT PISTOL
1.5 oz. Angel's Envy bourbon
0.5 oz. Overproof Jamaican rum
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
0.75 oz. turbinado syrup
Candied ginger for garnish

Instructions
To make turbinado syrup, mix two parts turbinado sugar with one part water, bring just to a boil, then allow to cool.

Shake ingredients with cube ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with candied ginger.

* * *

FELICIA CHAVEZ
Two 40 South

240 S. Brea Blvd., Brea, (714) 912-1053; www.two40south.com.

Like many of OC's best bartenders, Felicia Chavez started out low on the totem pole: as a server at Dave and Buster's in Orange in 2000. She got promoted to the bar, where she learned to dole out the liquor quicker. "I cranked out sugary, brightly colored cocktails and various 'bombs' for seven years," she says. "I had a total blast."

It was Bruce Rabanit at the old-money Balboa Bay Club, though, who urged her to set her sights higher. "He really pushed me to get creative with cocktails," she recalls. "He and the chef let me do whatever I wanted."

The average bar has problems with stirring drinks, though, Chavez says. "I still see bartenders shake the hell out of Manhattans." She'd banish those neon bottles of grenadine and lime juice—everyone knows exactly which ones she's talking about.

One night at Two 40 South in Brea, Chavez was experimenting on willing patrons; one of the successes was a mezcal drink flavored with coffee, coffee liqueur and Mexican chocolate. Tasting as though it were a smoky, alcoholic hot cocoa, she christened it El El Bean; the concoction soon attracted the attention of every woman sitting at the bar. That's a good thing, right?

Orange County may be a little bit behind on the craft cocktail movement compared to the rest of the country (um, two years late), Chavez says, but that's no excuse for bad drinks, given that Orange Countians have started to demand better wine and better, more locally sourced food. "I've been told to dumb down my cocktail lists before, that this is Orange County," she says. "We don't dumb down our menus or our wine lists—why should we do that with our cocktails?"

 

THE LOVE LETTER
2 oz. Hendrick's gin
0.5 oz. damask rose elixir
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 oz. club soda
6 rose petals for garnish

Instructions
Shake the gin, rose elixir and lime juice with cube ice, then strain into a rocks-filled white wine glass. Top with club soda, and garnish with rose petals.

 

This article appeared in print as "Shake It Up: The Orange County Bartenders Cabinet is teaching you to drink like you've never drunk before."

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3 comments
janetwillson213
janetwillson213

Jason Schiffer, take a bow. The great bartender is in the right place. I am waiting for a good mixture from you. I need it seriously.

theminty
theminty

Widow's Kiss is a classic cocktail dating back to at least 1895. The specs given are exactly that of the classic so Dion did not create it.

Dave Stolte
Dave Stolte

Tip o' the hat to Jason Schiffer at 320 Main in Seal Beach for mentioning "Home Bar Basics (and Not-So-Basics)" in this week's OC Weekly cover story. SoCal friends, please visit 320 Main if you haven't already done so – they do it right x1,000,000!

 
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