Earlier this week, I attended a special dinner by Clay Oven Irvine executive chef-owner Geeta Bansal at Whole Foods Market's Newport Beach location. It's a snug space that's encyclopedic in its offerings but not as intimidating as the cavernous Tustin location. But what I didn't expect was its Back Bay Tavern, an honest-to-goodness local made from sustainable wood (mostly repurposed planks from northern California canneries), with a bunch of organic hooch and all food products originating from the store.
They had a lot of craft beers on tap, but I don't drink beer and instead asked for a cocktail menu. No specialty cocktail list yet, although Whole Foods Newport Beach head marketing Cindy O'Shea raved about a seasonal beet juice-based drink named the Red Ace in honor of the famed company. We'll have to wait for that one; in the meanwhile, I requested the most vegetal drink I could think of: a Bloody Mary.
Oh, was this a good one. The tomato used was from the store, sweet and strong, with the seeds strewn in between ice cubes, as was the briny olive and the fat salt crystals on the rim. Better yet, this Bloody Mary zinged with Tabasco, with Worcestershire sauce (or whatever its foodie equivalent is), with the organic vodka within. If I had been at the Back Bay Tavern in the morning accompanied by a designated driver, I'd spend the rest of the day with these Bloody Marys (and mix it up with Bloody Marías); as it was, I had to drive the chica back home.
Until next time, Whole Foods Newport–and whip up some specialty cocktails, wontcha? There's some talent in your thar tavern…