When contemplating Fall cocktail names, Blinking Owl’s beverage director Megan Barton asks, “how does WuTang Jam Ain’t Nothin to Fig Wit sound?” while attaching a WuTang lapel pin to the glass. The drink, which is still being developed for Fall, has their Old Tom Gin, fig jam, lemon, pineapple, and Angostura bitters.
But it’s still summer, and there’s still time to sneak in some sips of the summer menu. First thing’s first, Blinking Owl is a production distillery, and with that comes a few hoops you have to dive through to have a great experience. First, you need to call and set up an reservation, as doing so allows you not only to look cool when you arrive, this includes a tour and tasting. Second, you should probably know Blinking Owl’s cocktails contain only their spirits, which makes the task of crafting drinks with various Amari, vermouths, or beer/champagne floats a no-go. I actually find the lack of supporting spirits as a positive, as the cocktails tend to put whatever Blinking Owl liquid is used on a pedestal.
My favorite of the summer lineup, called Where the Heck is Scandinavia, blends in a thick layer of Blinking Owl Aquavit, and is what I imagine a side salad to taste like at René Redzepi’s Noma: bright, citrus, umami with a kick of that refreshing cucumber water you get at a high-end spa.
The drink is the product of bartender Andrew Aoun, who uses aquavit, cucumber, rhubarb soda, and fennel smoked sea salt on the rim. “It was originally called Where The Fuck is Scandinavia, but it got parental controlled for the menu,” he said, laughing. “People never know where Scandinavia is when we try to describe the Aquavit, hence the name,” he continued. Aquavit has been made in Scandinavia since the 15th century, and it’s a treat to have one made locally here in OC. Skål!
Blinking Owl Distillery, 802 E Washington Ave, Santa Ana *Call for reservations! 714-852-3947; blinkingowldistillery.com.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest. When not writing about, photographing or filming beer, cocktails, and food, he can be found talking trash while playing video games under the name “OCBeer.”