It was a good year to sit at the bar. Four out of our five preferred sips came from new establishments. We found new drinking companions, and embraced our brown spirit tendencies to present the following.
5. Oh, Henry at Umami Burger Irvine Spectrum
While we could've taken the easy road and ordered their take on a mule or mojito, our beverage of choice originates from a single barrel bourbon known as Henry McKenna. If the wedge didn't tip you off, pineapple juice lightens an otherwise heavy spirit. A bit o' honey sweetens the deal, but the final ginger component pulls it back into place. We wanted to down another, but there was that thing called work we had to return to. Next time, for sure.
4. Plum Pisco at Fig & Olive
My beverage of choice that evening was a pisco, a deceptively delicious potion. Enhanced with dessert-like Moscato and yummy plum shrub (aka drinking vinegar), it was an easy selection. Egg white frothed it up, while lime juice and bitters kept the sweetness from overpowering my meal. Balance was what I sought out, and it delivered. Our signature cocktail also numbed my senses just enough to drown out some of those socialites, and for that we are thankful.
3. High Tide at Driftwood Kitchen
High Tide is Driftwood's hat tip to The Royal Hawaiian, in operation up the street from 1947 to 2012 (moment of silence, please). Per John Nye, Director of Operations, "I asked bartenders Dave and Morgan to develop a drink with Hawaiian influence and incorporate rye whiskey in a balanced way that every person would enjoy." They succeeded. Mint and fresh pineapple are muddled with ginger puree. Once shaken, it's poured over ice with Dickel 8 Rye and lemon sour. Fruity, refreshing and with a kick, it's hands-down their most requested cocktail–so request it, already!
2. Boathouse Sour from The Boathouse Collective
The Boathouse Sour is classic with a twist. Bourbon whiskey, maple simple syrup, fresh lemon, egg whites and some Angostura bitters are all dry shaken until frothy. Then it's poured over a single hunk of ice. Citrus peel and skewered Luxardo cherries finish it. Your mouth puckers with each sip, forcing you to nurse this particular drink while playing nice with those at the bar. Between the chef, their enclosed garden patio and that sour, you'll get used to this quick.
1. Breakfast In Bed at SideDoor
My drink started with Weller bourbon, a burnt sienna liquid I already had a pleasant history with. To sweeten things up, the barkeep incorporates a little Cherry Heering. Playing off the morning theme, pure maple syrup finds its way in. Trevor separates an egg to provide frothy goodness, a recurring theme in my beverages. Tart lemon rounds out our flavors, and the final product is lovingly poured over a jagged, hand-cut chunk of ice (cue Basic Instinct references). And what did he garnish our brekkie with? A skewer of tasty, alcohol-infused cherry and a bit o' bacon for good measure.
Breakfast went down smooth with every sip. A familiar fog layer settled along the coastline, but my beverage kept things cozy at the bar. Though it's no longer on the menu, I'm sure if you ask Trevor kindly, perhaps he'll refer to his little book of recipes for you.