Cocktails are bigger and better than ever right now, and whether you are into classic favorites, or experimenting with new and inventive craft cocktails, Newport Beach has just the spot for you. The art and creativity of cocktails has been changing and growing ever since the Revolutionary war, and the evolution of the cocktail can be seen throughout the decades.
The 1950s tiki drinks brought to popularity by the travels of World War II veterans, the 1960s James Bond vodka craze, and a recent resurgence in retro nineteenth century inspired creations, as well as combining and infusing surprising ingredients, like tree bark, into the ever changing cocktail. There seem to be more places than ever, with a wide variety of styles and offerings, to get your boozy fix and socialize with people from all over.
The many differing villages of Newport Beach truly allow the diversity of cocktails, and their accompanying bars and restaurants, to flourish and inspire both locals and visitors. Here are just a few illustrious options to satisfy all of your adventurous cocktail desires.
Just a short walk from John Wayne Airport (SNA), tucked away amongst hotels and a bustling business community, lies Newport Beach’s new energetic addition — Bosscat Kitchen and Libations. Bosscat truly livens up the airport district of Newport Beach, offering seamless indoor and outdoor seating in an energetic, casual atmosphere, complimented by a live DJ who mixes an eclectic selection of classic rock, rap, and rock ’n’ roll oldies. Bosscat rightfully prides itself on their extensive premium whiskey selection, offering over 154 whiskeys to their customers. The knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff has plenty of experience in crafting delicious cocktails and delivering commendable service. Of that staff, congenial bartender “Mustache Matt”, who helped open the place 5 months ago, says that their vision is to serve a special selection of wines, craft beers, and fresh craft cocktails, “but also not be pretentious”.
The house specialty cocktail, “The Bosscat”, certainly upholds their dedication to quality and freshness. It is an exquisite combination of Basil Hayden Bourbon, basil, rosemary, lemon, and of course a dash of bitters. Bosscat’s attention to detail doesn’t only extend to their creative libations, but also in their take on hearty pub food, and even down to the design of the place. A fish tank view of the kitchen from the bar, rustic red brick walls that meet up with the vintage styled decorative tin ceiling that lead into open garage doors that effortlessly combine the delicately lit outdoor patio with the intimate, but spirited indoor atmosphere. With a welcoming and enjoyable staff, uniquely fresh food and drink selections, and enjoyable atmosphere, Bosscat has become one of my personal new favorite spots to grab a drink and a good time in town.
Keep up with all of their ever changing additions and specials by following them on instagram @BCKITCHEN, and be sure to tag your experience using the hashtag #BOSSCAT… and don’t forget to give “Mustache Matt” a shoutout!
The latest edition to Fashion Island’s impressive dining selection, CUCINA enoteca, is a California inspired Italian kitchen with a modern twist and extensive wine shop. However, when I think of CUCINA enoteca I first think of their wildly unique house-infused spirits and their selection of specialty cocktails.
CUCINA enoteca’s innovative lead bartender, Tucky, conceptualizes all of the in-house infusions, such as the current botanical gin, chili mango tequila, strawberry clove vodka, red jalapeño tequila, and the extraordinary tree bark vanilla bourbon. Tucky creates the tree bark vanilla bourbon by infusing bourbon with a few pieces of tree bark, honey, and vanilla for five to seven days. Then it is ready to be put to work, and perfectly paired, with pine nut honey h2o, pineapple, arugula, and topped with a dainty purple flower accent to create the hand-crafted “Lush Roquette” cocktail. The tree bark vanilla bourbon is so good that you could enjoy it just as is, but I found a new unexpected love for the classic old fashioned cocktail by adding this specialty bourbon in place of your average option.
Some of CUCINA enoteca’s other notable hand-crafted cocktails, featuring their fresh infused liquors, are the “Bolivian Mojo” (agwa coca, chili mango tequila, lime, fumoso salt) and the “La Fenicé” (strawberry clove vodka, tuaca, cranberry, saffron rim). Tucky has already started planning for the upcoming holiday season, and will be offering fresh new cocktails to be thankful for! CUCINA enoteca should be swiftly added to your “must try” list, if you haven’t already.
Provenance brings a little bit of Napa Valley to the Back Bay area of Newport Beach, with fresh, seasonal ingredients that are grown right on the property. Indulge in the local, authentic, traceable, trusted, and ethical products that Provenance incorporates into every dish. Sit in their open indoor seating, or outside amongst the very ingredients that will be made into your meal. Provenance means “to trace the origin of a valued object back to its roots, as in the provenance of a piece of art.”
Executive Chef/Owner, Cathy Pavlos, believes that food identities are as old as the Chef who created the food, and all dishes and beverages should have an identity. Her intentions to communicate these identities, and provide guests with healthy and high-quality ingredients doesn’t stop with her food, and is even enhanced in the incredible list of house-crafted sodas and selection of house-infused spirits, which can be combined to create an amazing cocktail.
Their house-crafted sodas include the “Earl Grey Manhattan Cream Soda”, “Citrus-Honey Ginger Ale, Basil”, “Peach Fuzz, Anise Hyssop, Cinnamon Stick”, “Triple Berry Blossom Fizz, Mint, Lemon Balm”, and “Cucumber Refresher, Basil, Lime, Simple Syrup”. These sodas can be combined in any order with the following offered house-infused spirits: “Jalapeño and Pink Grapefruit Tequila”, “Cinnamon Stick Bourbon”, “Ginger Root Vodka”, “Anise/Vanilla Bean Whiskey”, “Granny Smith Apple and Bartlett Pear Vodka”, “English Cucumber Gin or Vodka”. One delicious combination you can’t go wrong with is the refreshing “Citrus-Honey Ginger Ale, Basil” soda with the spicy “Jalapeño and Pink Grapefruit Tequila” spirit. With a delightfully personable staff, a serene and engaging atmosphere, and a true farm-to-table meal, there’s no leaving Provenance without feeling completely satisfied.
Another Napa inspired restaurant with beautiful ocean and golf course views, nestled into the hills of Newport Coast. Pelican grill offers fresh, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients for their food and drink, that can be enjoyed inside in the dining area with an open view of the kitchen, in the bar amongst their two nine-foot HDTVs, or al fresco on the patio to watch the sun set over the glistening ocean. However, don’t let the exquisite scenery steal the show, because Pelican Grill’s specialty martinis have a sophistication all their own. Try the “Grace Kelly” for a perfectly blended mix of Hangar 1 Mandarin Vodka, fresh lemon juice, lavender syrup, and pomegranate juice, or the “Audrey Hepburn” for the refreshing taste of Ketel One Citroen Vodka, soho lychee liqueur, fresh lime juice, and fresh cucumber.
The elegance doesn’t stop with their specialty martinis, and can be experienced in any one of their “seasonal sips”, such as the “Grapevine” made with white grape juice, the rum based “Sweet & Spicy”, or the light and fruity “First Tee”. For a top-notch dining experience that celebrates the best of Newport Beach, relax and enjoy a specialty martini at Pelican Grill.
Sidedoor is the cozy little English-style Gastropub nestled right in the corner of the luxurious Five Crowns Restaurant on the outskirts of Corona del Mar. Sidedoor is casual intimate dining, but with the quality service and incredible food of it’s upscale neighbor. Among all of the tempting and appealing menu items is Sidedoor’s unbelievably decadent craft cocktails, which are constantly changing and surprising. Such as the “Alpine Swizzle”, a truly refreshing concoction made from absinthe, green chartreuse, cucumber, lime, orgeat, and tiki bitters all served over crushed ice. Another notable creation, the “Elizabethan Sangria”, which contrary to your typical sangria, actually contains very little wine. This cocktail is prepared with earl grey infused vodka, cocchi di Torino, sparkling wine, and apples, served on the rocks. All of Sidedoor’s infusions are created in-house and only the freshest ingredients are used in crafting their cocktails.
With the holiday season closing in, and Halloween approaching, Sidedoor has begun preparing special seasonal offerings to get patrons in the mood. Amber, Sidedoor’s simply sweet bartender, has come up with some special fall cocktails to treat customers with. This fall, she is offering a gin, absinthe, fig, and fennel syrup cocktail, a pumpkin whiskey inspired old fashioned cocktail, and a Mezcal whiskey sour. That is only a sneak peak of what is in store at Sidedoor this fall, as they are highlighting Cointreau this season in preparation for their Halloween event. On Halloween, Sidedoor is hosting a Masquerade Party all day featuring Cointreau, with cocktail specials, a festive DJ, and a costume contest. Sounds like a party you don’t want to miss!
The Village Inn is a great casual local spot to hangout any day of the week, with live music, an attentive friendly staff, and of course some quality upgraded classic cocktails. When dealing with cocktail selection, The Village Inn takes old classics and updates them with a noticeably local twist. They have the Gin based “Mariner’s Cup”, the blackberry “Balboa Buzz”, the elderflower and pear accented “Newport Martini”, and of course, the signature Vodka and Mezcal based fruity “PCH Martini”. To make things even better, The Village Inn offers seasonal specials and extends their weekly happy hour to sports fans for $2 off the bar menu during NFL football or Champions League Soccer Matches.
Just steps away from the sand on the Balboa Peninsula is the spacious District Lounge. Originally, Newport Beach’s historical Stag Bar, this spacious bar welcomes you in with its friendly service and social ease, however the quality classic cocktails and great weekly specials will keep you hanging around for more. The 100′ long mahogany and copper bar top is the longest bar in the city. Take advantage of the prime beachfront location with a walk along the boardwalk to catch the sunset, and then head into the District Lounge to enjoy a classic “Sidecar” cocktail or a “Whiskey Sour” over a game of pool. Aside from quality classic cocktails, they offer an array of amazing affordable specials
Newport Landing is Balboa Village’s quality spot overlooking the harbor, where the historic Balboa Ferry takes visitors and locals alike across the water. Newport Landing offers a great happy hour, and is a relaxing place to grab a cocktail. Specializing in tropical libations, such as the “Bahama Mama” or the popular “the Big Kahuna”, there is no shortage of fruity classic cocktails to compliment a fresh seafood dinner. So order up a “Mai Tai”, and a “Dark and stormy” for a friend and indulge in the incomparable seafood selection and casual waterfront dining at its best.
CANNERY SEAFOOD OF THE PACIFIC
Specializing in fresh seafood, The Cannery, located waterfront in Cannery Village, has been the social hotspot of Newport Beach for over 80 years. Snag a seat in their Jellyfish bar, or watching the boats pass by al fresco in the heated patios, to enjoy a famous Cannery “Skinny Cucumber Jalapeño Margarita” or a “Moscow Mule for Two”. If you are cursing around the harbor, pick up a platter to go and enjoy from the comfort of your boat or pull right up and dock your boat at The Cannery to begin a fun and flavorful evening by the water.
A Restaurant, formerly the famous Arches, has been serving up delectable meals and quality cocktails to passerby since Pacific Coast Highway opened up from Huntington Beach to Newport Beach, in 1925. Although it’s appearance and name have changed since then, A Restaurant still serves up a good time to locals and travelers. The lush wine red decor, dimly lit big leather booths, and lounge ambience makes A restaurant the perfect place in Newport Beach to enjoy a classic cocktail.
Among the impressive list of cocktails offered here, there are two that must absolutely be raved about. The “Corpse Reviver #3” is a new take on an old classic, the “Corpse Reviver #2”, but renamed to incorporate the No.3 Gin they artfully selected. This savory, citrus focused drink is served straight up in the classic cocktail glass and made of absinthe, Cointreau, Lillet, the No. 3 London dry gin, and finished off with a sweet maraschino cherry. Which Ben, A’s cocktail maven, would recommend you save for last to balance the tart nature of the drink with a sweet finish. Another impressive cocktail off A’s menu is “True Grit”, a drink made to honor John Wayne, the restaurant’s past frequenting customer. Created with the Duke’s very own Duke Bourbon, Amaro Abano, and bitters. A total switch from the the tart “Corpse Reviver #3”, to a strong bitter taste you know Mr. John Wayne would have loved.
Whether you’re in the mood to order up an old favorite classic cocktail, or indulge in something new and hand-crafted, Newport Beach has just the place for you no matter where you find yourself in the city.