Secret Sips in Newport Beach
Even though the Prohibition era is surely behind us, speakeasies are still very much a part of popular culture—and for good reason. They make you feel like you hold the key (in some cases, literally) to something special. The modern iteration is a little bit different. There’s no *phew* law-breaking involved, and usually, you can find your way in with just a little bit of sleuthing around. But an emphasis on top-notch cocktails and ambiance—mood lighting, elaborate decor and an air of secrecy—still remains. This might not come as a shock to you. What might surprise you, however, is the fact that we have our own secret hideaways and speakeasy-style lounges here in Newport Beach. So if you’re feeling adventurous, here’s where to go.
The first rule of Speakeasy is you don’t talk about Speakeasy, but that’s hardly an air-tight promise. Eventually, someone always lets something slip—and that’s how new guests are brought in on the secret that is Five Crowns’ exclusive e-blast. Once looped in, you can reply to secure a reservation, after which you’ll have to retrieve a special code from the restaurant’s iconic red phone booth before you’re allowed in. Inside the dimly-lit space, you’ll find old-world decor, a cozy fireplace and an edited, pared-down version of SideDoor’s menu. But really, the booze is what you’re there for. The resurrected prohibition-inspired libations, concocted by lead barman Peter Thom, include the citrusy, gin-based Mrs. White, which features egg whites, and the rum-forward Mrs. Peacock, a riff on the Mary Pickford cocktail. Oh, and did we mention there’s an absinthe fountain on each table? You said you were feeling adventurous.
This speakeasy takes its name from its location under CdM Restaurant, an elevated American restaurant which in turn takes its name from Corona Del Mar. Once inside CdM, it’s not too difficult to find this gem of a watering hole. You just have to know where to look. (Hint: there’s a staircase to the right of the main entrance that leads to the bar’s red upholstered leather door). This speakeasy-style barroom is intimate, complete with plush red velvet sofas and a 1940’s vintage photo booth. As far as the sippers go, bar manager Ravin Buzzell curates a creative roster of exclusive craft drinks like Ravin’s Old-Fashioned, a secret off-menu cherrywood-smoked cardamom cocktail. Need a bite with your booze? Under CdM recently started offering the full restaurant menu downstairs so you’ll never want to come up above ground.
OK—we wouldn’t necessarily call Snug Bar a speakeasy, mainly because it doesn’t really try to hide its existence. That said, it still has all the trappings of an underground drinking destination. A secret location? Check. The Snug Bar is snuggly tucked away underneath The Cannery, and offers a quiet reprieve from the upstairs hustle and bustle. A warm and welcoming ambiance? Check. Bartenders who really know their stuff? Check. The place has killer libations—like the Cool Down, which is made with vodka, elderflower, cucumber, lime and soda, as well as an elevated gin-and-tonic that accentuates gin’s many flavor profiles with seasonally rotating ingredients—to boot. These drinks alone will make you feel like you’ve stumbled across a secret you’ll want to keep all to yourself.
Written By: Mariam Makatsaria