La Mirada for cocktails? Abso-pinche-lutely. Puzzle Bar has quietly created one of North OC's (Yeah, La Mirada is in Los Angeles County, but it's as much OC as Huntington Beach is the 909) best cocktail programs for three years now. Owner and bar manager Kevin Lee has 30 house-made bitters in stock, the better to highlight his many liqueurs, cordials, amari aperitifs, vermouths and ginger beer in stock.
Even on a Friday night, Puzzle isn't too crowded—go change that. Go hang at the bar, and order the Lt. Archie Hicox.
A full-bodied cocktail that shows off the rich smokiness of 10-year Laphroaig scotch, it's blended with bitter-sweet house-made Campari-style amaro, salted caramel dry vermouth, and sharp dashes of aromatic bitters, spicy cinnamon bitters and Madagascar bourbon vanilla bitters (did we mention all made from scratch?). The infusion of sweet and salty accentuates all the flavors for a long, malty finish. Add a flaming orange twist for a redolent final accent, and you have a glorious bastard of a cocktail.
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Puzzle Bar, 14740 Beach Blvd., La Mirada, (714) 521-0079. Instagram: @puzzlelamirada