I'm so happy that Aron Habiger is back in SanTana, and not just because I'm always cheering on anyone who can make it out of El Modena. His talents, of course, are almost without peer, but his proverbial 40 days wandering in the desert that was his year-long break from OC also ensured he returned home with maturity, with an understanding that a restaurant shouldn't be a social scene so much as a place to get a square meal and a stiff drink, and that both components should complement each other. And while I loved the daring Habiger exhibited at the Crosby, the evolution of the North Left is even more impressive–especially when it comes to the cocktails.
We'll save the food for our year-end Favorite Dishes listicles, since this is a booze column. The cocktails are manly things, many barrel-aged or relying on whiskey–nothing frou-frou. But there's manly, and then there's the Lee Marvin in a glass called the Leatherman.
What's in the cocktail? Um…testosterone? The cocktail menu doesn't say much other than it's barrel-aged, but I think North Left general manager Andy Markuson (that nice guy with the beard out of the Pike Expedition) told me there was bourbon and Scotch–that's enough info for me. What I do know is that it's as strong a drink as I've ever had in OC, yet is imbued with honor–kinda like Lee Marvin himself. Now, get thee to the North Left, tell Aron what's up, and ask Andy for a snippet of his beard–he just might oblige…or not. But he will hi-five you!