Best Bars of Orange County in 2016

Best Bars of Orange County in 2016

BEST CRAFT COCKTAILS
Pizzeria Ortica
Pizzeria Ortica has always attracted eaters for its great pizzas, but the entrance of Joel Caruso and his man Friday, Aristotle Alstaetter, transformed the place into Orange County's ultimate booze factory.
Caruso is a Caravaggio of cocktails, each sip detailed, dramatic, dark, thoughtful and brilliant. Alstaetter, meanwhile, is already at top-rate bartender status with creations more playful, lighter, yet just as genius—let's call him Pizzeria Ortica's Rossini. Are we done with the Italian metaphors? No. Together, the two are the young DeNiro and Pacino of OC bartending, wowing with every appearance.

Readers’ Choice: SOCIAL Costa Mesa

BEST SPORTS BAR
Kelly's Korner Tavern
Not only is Kelly's Korner Tavern the epitome of a neighborhood bar—stumble up McCormack Lane for a minute, and you're in the middle of a nice suburban tract—serving some of the best bar food around (and suds FOR DAYS), but the Placentia favorite also has enough flat-screens to illuminate the Carlsbad Caverns. Nearly all of them are set to different games, ensuring that on any given night this fall, you saw the Angels losing, the Dodgers winning, the Lakers struggling, the Galaxy hustling, the Ducks underachieving, the Kings rebuilding and Sportscenter morons braying—and that's just one wall.

Readers’ Choice: Tilted Kilt

Green Girl Saloon
Green Girl Saloon
Micah Wright/OC Weekly

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BEST BIKINI BAR
Green Girl Saloon
You've seen Green Girl's epic ads in our dead-tree edition, marveled at how the Westminster institution is to hot bartenders what Nick Saban is to national championships. Ogle away—then go visit in the flesh, and you'll realize Green Girl is more than just #chichischrist and #nalgamedios. The servers are friendly, the beers top-notch, and the food fine. But it's the no-attitude atmosphere that will make a regular out of you. Now, keep looking at that Green Girl ad—we'll wait. . . .

Readers’ Choice: Green Girl Saloon

The Winery
The Winery
Micah Wright/OC Weekly

BEST HAPPY HOUR
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar
Yvone Goetz's restaurant is old-school French, the kind of place you typically save for that promotion or milestone anniversary. But its remarkable Crush Hour makes a weekly visit to the restaurant a must. For prices that won't get you a burger elsewhere, Goetz puts out the most thoughtful and elaborate happy hour food in Orange County. Don't expect Buffalo wings or plain sliders. Instead, feast on the casual cassoulet that's his pork belly lollipops on white beans or the honest-to-goodness steak-and-potatoes meal in his beef tenderloin bites. On top of that, there are substantial discounts on the wine.

Readers’ Choice: Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen

BEST PLACE FOR A ONE-NIGHT STAND
There's a reason its nickname is DTF—just sayin'!

Readers’ Choice: Sharkeez

Bottle Logic
Bottle Logic
Cleo Tobbi/OC Weekly

BEST BREWERY
Bottle Logic Brewing
Located in the Anaheim Canyon industrial area, far from any residential neighbors, Bottle Logic Brewing gets better and better. Its Double Actuator, a double IPA with just 80 IBU points, is exactly what a West Coast IPA should be: long on hops flavor, short on overextracted tannic bitterness. But it also makes an East Coast-style IPA called HazeShift, which is meant to be cloudy in the glass and strong on the tongue. It even made a Japanese rice lager that imitates Kirin, except 10 times more satisfying than Japan's national beer-flavored soda. When Anaheim's mayor said he was throwing the gates open to breweries, Bottle Logic is just what Tom Tait must have been hoping for.

Readers’ Choice: Bootlegger’s Brewery

Playground
Playground
OC Weekly archives

BEST BAR IN ORANGE COUNTY
Playground
The best bar in Orange County isn't even really a bar; it's a restaurant with an absolutely astounding bar program. When Playground opened in the Fiesta Marketplace (now called the East End), it was renowned for its beer selection, which was always $5 per pour; how strong the beer was determined the pour size. Years later, it's still $5 per pour, there's a small but extremely well-curated wine list, and now it's added a full spirits program to the mix, with extremely talented bartenders who create innovative cocktails that nearly always work. But as with everything Playground, the cocktail and beer menus change on a whim, so order a second round while you can.

Readers’ Choice: Bosscat Kitchen & Libations

Cesar Cerrudo
Cesar Cerrudo
Courtesy Niyaz Pirani

BEST BARTENDER
Cesar Cerrudo
The bar manager at Anepalco on Chapman and the new El Mercado next to the Yost Theater in Santa Ana doesn't say a lot. Cesar Cerrudo doesn't need to; his drinks speak for themselves. Just as the food at Anepalco is somehow both inventive and respectful of its roots, so are the cocktails. Cerrudo loves to play with textures and layers; an Old Fashioned might be whiskey and bitters sipped through a piloncillo foam, mixing behind your teeth, or he might create a gin drink balanced with unexpected Mexican flavors. Cerrudo is Peruvian, and his love for Pisco results in the best Pisco cocktails in all of Greater Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.

Readers’ Choice: Chatterbox (Bosscat Kitchen & Libations)

VLVT
VLVT
John Gilhooley/OC Weekly

BEST GAY BAR
VLVT Velvet Lounge
OC's gay community rallies around VLVT Velvet Lounge. During Pride, it's jammed full of people. It was where LGBT naranjeros went after the Pulse shooting in Orlando to be with their own and mourn. It's where everyone goes for a hell of a brunch featuring drag queens marching down the tables. The bar staff is friendly, the drinks are fast and strong, and you can safely hit on that cutie in the corner without getting side-eye from anyone except his boyfriend.

Readers’ Choice: VLVT Velvet Lounge

The Ring of Fire at Johnny's
The Ring of Fire at Johnny's
Taylor "Hellcat" Hamby/OC Weekly

BEST PUNK-ROCK BAR
Johnny's Saloon
We've said it before, and we'll say it again. When it comes to OC punk-rock bars, you can't fuck with Johnny's Saloon. It's not just about the whiskey, the jukebox or the preponderance of badasses old and new who stick to this place like barnacles on the side of the SS Minnow. It's the spirit of the place that starts with owner Johnny Kresmir, who, in addition to his dedication to the bar's extensive whiskey list, is down to support any worthy cause. Then, of course, there's the interior of the place, littered with punk-rock posters, memorabilia and discarded bras that always make for a great photo backdrop. There's no way to come here and not be part of a good time, even if you're just sitting on a barstool watching the show.

Readers’ Choice: Alex’s Bar

Balboa Peninsula
Balboa Peninsula
Micah Wright/OC Weekly

BEST STREET FOR A BAR CRAWL
Balboa Peninsula
Start out the night at Baja Sharkeez, with some Mexican food and a jalapeño cucumber margarita. Take a trip across the parking lot to Stag Bar + Kitchen, and grab a peach mule and a gluten-free pizza to make room for all the gluten in the beer and alcohol. Play pool, shoot some darts, and then bounce down a couple blocks to Mutt Lynch's. Finish up the night with a walk over to American Junkie, strictly for booze, babes and boogieing. Most of the dancing happens on the second floor, so be careful with the stairs. It's half a mile from the beach, but, men, no tank tops. Stumble home to some one-nighter's apartment. Repeat the following day.

The Winery
The Winery
Micah Wright/OC Weekly

BEST WINE BAR
Five Vines Wine Bar
At Five Vines Wine Bar, the staff is friendly and the customers aren't drowning in a whirlpool of elitism. This is a wine bar for anti-wine-bar folk who want to revel in Dionysian desires without diving into a world of snoot. Not only does it offer quality wines from all the major regions, but it also has a secret wine cellar list—much like the way In-N-Out has a secret menu, only light years classier. And for those who prefer barley or hops to fermented grapes, the craft-beer selection is fabulous.

Readers’ Choice: SeaLegs Wine Bar

Watering holes continued on page 2..



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