If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know we love Playground in downtown Santa Ana–great food, convivial atmosphere, and every draft beer is $5 all the time. But there's always been something missing, some spark in libations director Jarred Dooley's eyes at every meeting of the Orange County Bartender's Cabinet.
Suddenly, though, licensing postings appeared in the windows, and before you could say "splunge", bottles of rye, mezcal and gin appeared, flanked by a million little jars of infusions, bitters, and syrups.
Casey Dion, formerly of Charlie Palmer, is behind the stick, as is Felicia Chavez, formerly of Two 40 South in Brea. They've got a broad menu of cocktails which will be changing regularly (though not as often as the menu–cocktails will stick around long enough for you to get to know them). As you might expect from Playground, even the classic cocktails get a twist. There's a take on a Manhattan, and Casey's nod to the margarita is called a Santa Ana Daisy, with hibiscus, a little pomegranate, and a mezcal rinse.
With this development, we're just one or two lounges away from being able to do a craft cocktail crawl in downtown Santa Ana.