Gabbi Patrick and her namesake Mexican Kitchen in Old Towne Orange has rightfully earned praise for her meals, which skip across Mexico to offer different regional treats (go right now while they're offering her take on chiles en nogada, featuring fluffy picadillo and a walnut sauce so sweet it makes nougat taste like concrete). But over the course of Gabbi's five-year existence, her husband Ed has quietly built a fantastic collection of liquors and cocktails, all housed and concocted behind their ornate wooden bar.
Their Jalapeño Pepino margarita is spectacular, simultaneously spicy and soothing, while a blood-orange caipirinha skips across your palate like Astrud whispering about a garota de Ipanema. But for the next couple of weeks, Ed is selling El Grito, named after the rallying cry that signaled the start of the Mexican War of Independence and is repeated every Mexican Independence Day. Think of it as a mestizo Long Island Iced Tea, except far more flavorful and imaginative.
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Ed mixes Champagne with apricot brandy and tequila, throwing in a squirt of agave, blackberries, raspberries, and apple slices, and rimming the glass with red Hawaiian salt. The tequila is one that, on premise along, I'd probably dismiss if presented: Gran Centenario Rosangel, tequila aged in port barrels and then infused with jamaica. Seems gimmicky, but Rosangel anchors the competing sweet notes of El Grito: the bubbly fizzy, the earthy salt, the creamy agave, the fruity, um, fruits. It's almost as glorious as a Christmas-time ponche, and few drunk walks are better than stumbling around the Orange Circle. Proceed, I say!
Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen 141 S. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 633-3038; www.gabbipatrick.com.