Drinks, Bites and More
After you’ve explored all that Newport Beach has to offer in the way of activities and events, it’s time to sit back and relax — and, the best thing about it is, you never have to wander far from your hotel room or cottage to find refreshing drinks, stunning views, hip scenes, chic décor and more. Here are some just some of the ideal gathering spots at our area resorts and hotels for your review pleasure.
Debuted in May 2015 with a whole new look and feel, the Great Room Social Lounge is a lively place to gather, savor and linger with craft cocktails, small bites and a modern upbeat vibe. Found at the heart of The Resort at Pelican Hill, within the ocean-view indoor setting of the resort’s main estate lobby, this sophisticated, yet unpretentious, European-style “living room” is highlighted by warm, residential-style comforts, a grand limestone fireplace framed by Renaissance tapestries, and plush seating that swivels around for ocean and sunset views by day, then evening dining and entertainment by night. Leave your car with the complimentary valet or simply venture out from your room to enjoy special Weekday Sips & Bites followed by curated nightly music beginning with a contemporary energized combo and continuing late into the evening with a live DJ mixing music to match the mood of the moment Tuesday-Saturday, as well as a Great Room Social Hour Monday-Friday from 5-6 p.m. featuring contemporary music, beverage specials, small bites, table games and monthly events.
Upon entering the environs of the recently updated Aqua Lounge at the Island Hotel Newport Beach, you’ll be transported to a luxurious coastal atmosphere where deep shades of blue mix with Spanish limestone and Italian marble accents, bleached Anigre hardwood, brushed stainless steel, and mirrored and cast glass to create a stylish seaside setting. When the afternoon and nighttime roll around, belly up to the 360-degree bar glass bar or one of the curved wood-and-textile encased banquettes and mingle with Newport’s hip, chic set while enjoying drinks mixed tableside, a unique ice program, freshly squeezed juices and an imaginative approach to craft cocktails. Think the masterfully crafted classic Moscow Mule — KetelOne Vodka, homemade ginger beer and fresh lime juice served in a copper mug (with a special menu every Monday complete with 10 delicious variations of the Mule at $12 each, including the Citrus Mule with Ciroc Wild Berry Vodka, ginger beer, lemon juice and lime juice and Fire Mule with Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, ginger beer and lime juice). But that’s not all … other special treats (in addition to a Happy Hour daily from 3-7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to close offering half off the entire lounge menu) include Taco & Tequila Tuesday (a favorite taco trio of the week from 3-10 p.m. paired with a different tequila with customizable farm-to-glass margaritas for $7) and Whisky Wednesday (with a new fine whisky enjoyed in a shot glass or as a well drink for $7). Chef Marc Johnson’s shareable bites also are quite popular, with favorites including the charred shishito peppers, short rib beignets and newly created house-smoked salmon flatbread. And don’t forget the vibrant entertainment scene teeming with regionally known resident DJs spinning a blend of high-energy music Thursday-Saturday.
Craft cocktails and small bites are also front-and-center at the warm and inviting lounge of the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa. With its modern twist on classic sophistication, The Lounge at Sam & Harry’s draws an affluent Newport Beach crowd alongside traveling business executives both indoors and outdoors on the terrace. The Moscow Mule (acai vodka, lime juice, Gosling’s Ginger Beer, ginger mint simple syrup, mint and lime) is one of the most popular drinks — along with tasty selections like the Peartini (pear-infused North Shore Vodka and fresh pear) and Annies Jamonade (Reposado Tequila, house-made jam, simple syrup and lemon juice). And everyone raves about the tapas menu, which is ideal for tasting and sharing everything from jumbo lump crab cakes to ahi tacos. Be sure to check out the new oyster bar with live shuckers!
Meanwhile, at the hotel’s sister property — the newly renovated boutique-style Newport Beach Marriott Bayview — take in stunning views of Newport Beach Bay and the nature preserve while enjoying signature cocktails (like the refreshing Vodka Cooler with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, picked basil, muddled cucumber, lime juice and homemade simple syrup) and popular bites like the Mexicali Burger (Angus Beef, Oaxaca cheese, roasted poblano peppers, homemade corn, jalepeno mayo, fried onions and fried egg) from the relaxed indoor and outdoor setting of the casual Vista.Kitchen.Bar. Wednesday Happy Hour is one of the best times to show up, with a tasting of three local California wines for only $10. But there also are specials every other night of the week from 5-7 p.m., including Margarita Mondays (half-off Spicy Serrano Margaritas), Taco Tuesdays (half-off crispy shrimp and short rib tacos), Thursday Bourbon Flights (with a small batch or grain flight for $10), Friday Local Beer tasting (with a free taste of any local craft beer), as well as live music all summer in the lobby (with Brazilian songstress Caro Pierotto coming up Aug. 28).
Yet more stellar views can be found at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort and the bar at the one-of-a-kind Back Bay Bistro. With 15-foot-high panoramic windows and a retractable roof, the waterfront patio is the perfect spot to sit and enjoy mouthwatering food and cocktails while gazing at luxury yachts cruising along the Newport Bay. Be sure to try everything from classic cocktails like the Rob Roy (Johnny Walker Red Label scotch, Cinzano sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters) to exclusive concoctions like the Back Bay Mojito (mint muddled in your choice of Bacardi rum, simple syrup, fresh lime juice, soda water and mint). And don’t miss the bar’s Happy Hour Wednesday-Sunday from 4-7 (with small plates and drink specials), Taco Tuesdays (through Oct. 27) and Wine Down Wednesdays (half price bottles of vino from 5-9 p.m.). There’s even a special Wine Education Series the first Thursday of each month, with the next event Oct. 1 from 6-8 p.m. offering a selection of up to eight vintages, hors d’oeuvres and a tasting booklet for $75 per person.
Walk through Balboa Bay Resort past the fantastic new water wall feature and into the recently renovated A&O Kitchen+Bar, where the communal fire pits on the wrap-around patio fire up at dusk allow guests to sit back and enjoy the live music and starlit water of the harbor, along with specialty cocktails like the BBR Mai Tai (Cruzan and Kraken rums and signature mai tai blend) and Signature Bloody Mary (with KetelOne Vodka), craft beers poured from a custom cast-iron tap, wine served in punts and beer floats served up from the large horseshoe-shaped bar. While there, nosh on Chef Vincent Lesage’s crowd-pleasers such as the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with bleu cheese, 8-ounce Kobe burger, “Nice Rack” fall-off-the bone pork ribs, Gastro-Cobb salad and Club A&O sandwich. During football season, enjoy Sunday brunch featuring a bloody mary cart, breakfast burrito/taco station; happy hour Sunday-Thursday, with a “beat the clock” menu featuring food and drink specials ($4 from 4-5 p.m., $5 from 5-6 p.m. and $6 from 6-7 p.m.); and acoustic guitar duos every Saturday from 8-11 p.m. in August and September, with performances led by both Michael Jade and Lucas Marx.
At the Lobby Lounge of the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, it’s just like having your own beach home, complete with a relaxed atmosphere sporting cozy couches and chairs adorned with coastal throw pillows, a basket of throw blankets for those chilly California nights, and a view of the Upper Newport Bay from an armchair- and couch-filled veranda sporting a firewall. There’s even a more secluded “Library” with lifestyle/coffee books located just off the main lounge. This hip, casual space draws a varied crowd of leisure guests, couples, business people and locals — with music-lovers changing up the scene on Friday nights, from June through early October, during the hotel’s annual Summer Concert Series. Among the most popular drink and food offerings are the Strauss Grass-Fed Burger (with aged white cheddar and red onion jam) washed down with a Surfer Girl cocktail (Grey Goose Vodka muddled raspberries, fresh juices and agave nectar).
With its locale near the area’s office towers and its classy vibe, the European-style bambù Lounge at the Fairmont Newport Beach is a hot spot for local business clientele during the week. Settle in amid the classic décor (recently updated with new contemporary furniture and six TVs) and enjoy one of the establishment’s popular drinks — the Orange Melon Mist created by Fairmont’s own mixologist Curtis Cropp (with Grey Goose Le Melon Vodka, Cointreau, organic agave, cantaloupe and orange), along with Trinity Oaks Wine (a tree is planted with each bottle sold) — or something from the menu including ahi tuna tacos, burgers and more. Feel like sharing? The lounge’s “Bites” offer everything from calamari to honey Sriracha chicken wings. Highlights include happy hour Monday-Friday, from 4-6 p.m., with glasses of house wine and draft beer for $5 and all “Bites” half-off.
Last, but definitely not least, why not wrap up your evening at the casual and inviting Sapphire Lounge at the Carlton Hotel Newport Beach? Here you’ll find classic cocktails (the KetelOne martini is a favorite), as well as a broad selection of California vintages, brews on tap and an assortment of appetizers. The property’s lounge is open daily, with special promotions on classic cocktails, California vintages, brews on tap and assorted appetizers available during social hour from 4-7 p.m. Afterward, head to the hotel’s popular Tiffany’s Cuisine restaurant for award-winning fare prepared with the freshest and finest ingredients California has to offer, plus an outstanding wine list highlighted by Californian varietals.