Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa has been a smash from the moment it opened except in one category–booze. For about a year, I refused to even visit because during a lunchtime visit, they had no cocktails–unacceptable. But around last year was the time Joel Caruso became head of Ortica's alcohol, and I knew the guy was smart when he brought on as his apprentice that nice waiter-bartender who used to work weekend shifts at the late, great Memphis at the Santora (sorry I haven't learned your name after all these years!). Together, Caruso and his protege have unveiled a magnificent cocktail program, meaning I'm going to be spending much more time there given it's just a couple of minutes away from Weekly World Headquarters.
They can whip up whatever you desire, but stick to the cocktails on the menu, an imaginative collection that takes full advantage of Caruso's knowledge of Italian digestifs. But the one that I enjoyed the most was one I almost didn't order: the Adriatic Coast.
This drink has two things I don't usually like: gin (which gets me in a stabby mood) and ginger flavor courtesy of Domaine de Canton, a ginger liqueur from China. But add in lemon, lime, Angostura and a dash of St. Germain, and the result is a gorgeous, tart sea of swell befitting its name. Order this one to introduce yourself anew to Pizzeria Ortica–then follow the cues of Caruso and his team in bringing joy to your South Coast Metro night.