We drink to celebrate and commiserate. But mostly, we order a drink because water no longer makes the cut (unless it has bubbles). We share 10 new favorites in our rotation, just in time for those hot summer nights.
Mohave Bubbles at AVEO
We sipped this stunner over bountiful Sunday brunch while reveling in Monarch Beach Resort's leisurely vibe. As refreshing as our ocean view, we tasted prickly pear puree, squeezed lemon and sweet raspberry with our Stoli and Poema Cava Brut. Try matching the blushing liquid up with a rosy sunset. 1 Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, (949) 234-3200; www.monarchbeachresort.com.
Fichi Festa at Michael's on Naples
Ordered while feasting on Chef Eric Samaniego's monthly collaboration dinners, we sought out a beverage outside of our whiskey comfort zone. Organic tequila by IXA naturally paired with spicy Ancho Reyes. Yet it was a trio of smoked salt, black sugar and fig and balsamic shrub that pulled us in like a tractor beam. Request one upstairs to enjoy Michael's recently renovated bar, lounge and rooftop dining. 5620 E. Second St., Long Beach, (562) 439-7080; www.michaelsonnaples.com.
Aztec Warrior at Provenance
An OC Weekly Best New Restaurant recipient, Newport's neighborhood sanctuary serves double duty as Provenance's garden supplies both their food and beverage menus. Cilantro, jalapeño and lime offer a bit of kick, while Aztec's cucumber and simple syrup smooth things out in a gin-based concoction. Have Chef Cathy piece together an inspired meal for a complete experience. 2531 Eastbluff Dr, Newport Beach, (949) 718-0477; www.provenanceoc.com.
Spanish Armada at YNK
Found in an overlooked room beyond a standard issue lobby bar, YNK is the intimate setting we've been missing in Orange County. The curated liquid remedies make the longest workday fade away. Their featured selections travel across the globe every few months, but guests can always order from inscribed journals chronicling every recipe. We gave a nod of approval for an Oloroso, Allspice Dram and plum shrub mix in our Russell's Rye. 18000 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, (949) 553-0100; www.ynk-irvine.com.
Captain Barbosa at Pacific Hideaway
Received an unexpected vacation in a glass after requesting the Captain. This smoked brew of Lustau sherry, spiced rum, Ancho Reyes and cinnamon is decanted tableside. The kicker: it's done over an "ice cube" made of pineapple. Makes for one boozy fruit snack afterwards. Cheers! 500 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (714) 960-5050; www.pacifichideawayhb.com.
Nothing Less - Mix Mix Kitchen Bar
One thing that's remained constant on the corner of 3rd and Main streets in downtown SanTana is the bar. We've consumed enough after-work cocktails seated at this counter, but it's the current lineup that sparked our interest. Specifically, Mix Mix's fruit-forward glass of Anchor Junipero. Injected with lemon-lime juices, Nothing Less finishes with frothy passion fruit meringue and lychee syrup drizzle. For something that looks like nothing, there's a whole lot of everything going on. 300 N Main St, Santa Ana, (714) 836-5158; www.mixmixkitchenbar.com.
Spirited Away at K'ya Bistro Bar
Back to the beach we go for a sip that is simple, yet potent thanks to Iwai Japanese whiskey. Just a dash of Angostura and enough sweet vermouth go a long way. It coaxed our taste buds as we perused K'ya's extensive selection of bites— all while watching the PCH bustle pass us by. Miyazaki would likely approve. 1287 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 376-9718; www.kyabistro.com.
Beaureguarde at Water Grill
Known for proper execution of seafood, our favorite component is all things spirit-oriented at WG's sprawling South Coast Plaza destination. Lounge along the perimeter or choose between a trio of worthy bars (one being the oyster), your Beaureguarde will properly quench that thirst. Served straight up, our vodka concoction is spiked with lemongrass to wake us. B's garnish gives away the rest of the story, with its hit of acid and sweet. Place an order for a half-dozen bivalves and start slurping. 3300 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (949) 208-7060; www.watergrill.com.
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The Buzz at Center Hub
After asking our bartender what would be refreshing, he responded with our favorite combination of flavors. How could we turn that down? Maker's Mark, honey and lemon juice did the trick at TRADE's watering hole. Heck, all we needed was frothy egg white in our Buzz to make it all fan-cay. It certainly helped us get through the weekday grind. 2222 Michelson Dr., Ste. 220, Irvine, (949) 536-5652; www.centerhubbar.com.
The Perfect G&T at Hendrix Restaurant and Bar
How appropriate that the house specialty at this South County newcomer is so easy to remember; its main ingredient practically shares the same name as the property. Our wine glass of Hendrick's is treated to Fever Tree Indian Tonic and adorned with bright botanicals. This ain't your Dad's gin & tonic, yet it's just as effective. 32431 Golden Lantern, Laguna Niguel; (949) 248-1912; www.hendrixoc.com.