I walked into the Little Canary the night after Christmas, figuring it'd be quiet--a Thursday night, people still nursing the holiday hangovers, a nice time to get to see what Casey Dion's been up to down in Rancho Santa Margarita.
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Not so much. The Blind Pig is pretty much the only good place to drink in RSM, and thus even on nights when it should be slow, it's hopping. The place was unbelievably busy, with large parties of people in Santa hats, a surprisingly good live guitarist, and a set of local bros having a great time and wanting everyone else to as well. ("Do you want a hug, bro?" "Do I want a hug, bro? No. I do not want a hug, bro.")
It was here that I had my no-sweet-drinks paradigm challenged; I prefer my cocktails brown, bitter and stirred, or sour and puckery. The Little Canary, though, was really well balanced. Made of pisco, sweet vermouth, Chartreuse and orange bitters, it could have been cloying; instead, the Chartreuse (the yellow variant, which is less alcoholic and slightly less pungent) and the orange bitters managed to distract from the sweetness of the vermouth.
Furthermore, it's one of the most beautiful cocktails I've been served; I'm a sucker for the jewel-like look of something that's been stirred properly, and the slight yellow-green cast of the drink glinted in the dim light. The picture attached doesn't begin to do it justice--you'll have to go order one for yourself.