10 Holiday Cocktails giving us multiple reasons to say "Cheers" this season
The winter season brings us brisk air, insatiable cravings for home cooked food, and most often, a need for a good stiff drink. Sure, the holidays are full of celebration and joyous events, but sometimes we need an adult beverage in hand to assist us with those big family get togethers and company holiday parties. Not that you need another reason to say 'Cheers' this season, but here are 10 of our favorite Holiday-centric cocktails from our beloved and generous Orange County bartenders.
The Blind Rabbit: Jack Frost
ANAHEIM, CA | ANAHEIM PACKING DISTRICT
Your local Anaheim Speakeasy is one of our top picks for a handcrafted cocktail this season, full of winter spices and holiday flavors. Hidden on the bottom floor of the Anaheim Packing House, this Prohibition Style bar is full of talented mixologists who are far from strangers to pushing the boundaries of good booze. These guys were nominated for 'Best Bar in OC' by OC Weekly, and won multiple awards in 2015 including a Golden Foodie for 'Best Cocktail Bar in OC', and most recently the Packing District's 'People's Choice Bartender' award. Order the light and apple-forward "Jack Frost" cocktail, featuring scotch, whiskey, cinnamon cane, fresh lemon and absinthe flavors, and you're in for a real spirited treat. Make your reservations before 2016 arrives.
Mesa: The Clash
COSTA MEA, CA | THE CAMP
Mesa Lounge is by far one of the edgiest, most eclectic bars in Orange County. Recognized for their classic take on cocktails and top-notch eats, Mesa has made a real name for itself. With Top Chef contestant Niki Starr Welyer in the kitchen, and earning the OpenTable 'Dinner's Choice Award' 2 years in a row, it's no question they're on the top of their game. Warm yourself up with this spiced cocktail from the bar chef called "The Clash": a Vodka-based creation infused with real Arbol chile, tangerine, vanilla and citrus juices. It's certain to help you get through those late nights of gift wrapping, and keep you cozy.
Broadway by Amar Santana: Time Well Spent
LAGUNA BEACH, CA | GLENNEYRE ST
Nothing says winter like the herbacious and crisp flavor of dry gin; it's scent reminiscent of pine trees and fresh fallen snow. Broadway's cocktail program has an entire autumn menu dedicated to high quality ingredients. Their "Time Well Spent" cocktail features St. George Dry Rye Reposado Gin, Gran Classico, Byrrh, and Orange Essence. The best thing about this seasonal beverage: you can drink one after another without worry.
NEWPORT BEACH, CA | LAFAYETTE RD
One of Orange County's historical seafood restaurants, located right on the waters of the Newport harbor, is not only bringing stellar fish plates and sushi to our lips, but also a fantastic and fresh cocktail menu. Always changing based on seasonal ingredients and food pairings, this cocktail list is fun and unique. For the winter season, we'd recommend the ______. Grab one during their daily happy hour from 4pm-6:30pm, or with your lunch in the lounge. Either way, The Cannery knows how to do the holiday season, like true Californians.
Habana: Templeton Manhattan
COSTA MESA, CA | THE LAB
When you like your cocktails straight forward and honest (like the crazy outspoken Grandma we all have and will see this holiday), you might as well stick to the infamous Manhattan. It's spirit-forward, simple, and exceptionally satisfying. Habana, a modern Cuban eatery, stirs up their Manhattan with Templeton Rye, Carpano Antica Vermouth, and the original Luxardo cherries for garnish. So, if you're a fan of Rye-Whiskey, scoot your butt from the couch to a barstool at Habana, located within The Lab in Costa Mesa. The warm environment will quickly feel like your home away from home; heck, you might even find yourself writing those last minute Christmas cards at the bar.
Arc Food & Libations: Egg Nog
COSTA MESA, CA | SOCO
Arc Restaurant, located in Costa Mesa's SoCo Collection is undoubtedly a must-visit for high quality and bold libations. Dedicated to crafting their cocktails 'by scratch' in the truest form, each drink is served with hand-cut ice, and every syrup, bitter, and infusion is made in-house. This winter season they're putting their twist on a classic - Egg Nog. Yesterday they were infusing the creamy, comforting liquid with bourbon, port, and honey. Next week, it'll be a whole new take, possibly featuring rum, or maybe even tequila. Since variety is the spice of life, visit Arc at least twice this season and get your Egg Nog fix in a way you've never tasted before.
25º: The Jive Turkey
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA | WALNUT AVE
Let's be real, most of us foodies haven't completely accepted the fact that Thanksgiving is already over, and that Christmas is right around the corner. So, for those of you still in mourning over Turkey Day's abrupt end, we suggest you head out to 25º in Huntington Beach. Just off of Main Street this moody joint offers gourmet burgers and a killer cocktail lineup. Whether you're after a classic like an Old Fashioned, or something crazy like a Spiked Milkshake, these guys will serve up whatever poison you prefer. For all you Thanksgiving lovers, we suggest "The Jive Turkey" cocktail, where Wild Turkey Bourbon, apples, basil, citrus juices, and house-made cinnamon simple syrup come together in harmony.
Pie Society Bar: Black is the New Black
COSTA MESA, CA | PIE SOCIETY
Just behind the wall of a local pizza spot is Pie Society's very own speakeasy. Quaint and casual, Pie Society Bar offers current and tasty creations. For the chilly winter nights, we suggest their "Black is the New Black" Bourbon-based cocktail - because, well, Black always looks good on you. Four Roses Bourbon, Wild Turkey Rye, Averna Amaro, and Black Walnut Bitters swirl together in your glass. This drink will keep your heart warm after each sip, even if it's covered in layer upon layer of black clothing. Even Wednesday Adams would get down on this drink for the holidays... well, after her 21st birthday of course.
SOCIAL: Getting Figgy With It
COSTA MESA, CA | W 19TH ST
SOCIAL'S all-star mixologist team is creating one-of-a-kind cocktails using solely house-made syrups, cordials and bitters. This season they have multiple speciality drinks on deck for their patrons to choose from, but our favorite is their warming "Getting Figgy With It". By using a fig-complimented Cognac, jägertree, Rye, and Fennel Essence, they've concocted a truly memorable sipper with a raw and earthy sweetness that is undeniably perfect for the holidays.
EATS: Holiday Sangria
IRVINE, CA | HOTEL IRVINE
This season, EATS Kitchen located inside of Hotel Irvine is not only offering a specialty cocktail menu, but an entire 12 Days of Christmas Dinner Menu. The experts behind the scenes are working hard like Santa's elves, and I'm sure they'd agree that it wouldn't be December without a little Sangria to kick off cocktail hour. Happy Hour at EATS is Monday through Friday from 5pm-7pm, and Cocktails are only $4. That includes their wonderfully fresh "Holiday Sangria" made with Merlot, Disaronno, lime juice, simple syrup, fresh oranges and cranberries, and whole cloves. We don't blame you for tossing back a few glasses of this before your holiday gatherings.
Other Seasonal Cocktails not to miss in the OC: