Move over appletini. The craft cocktail craze is sweeping Southern California with some of the most talented bartenders in the country. Check out some of the best watering holes that serve these delectable mixed drinks.
Jason Schiffer, the owner of 320 Main in Seal Beach, is recognized as a leader in his craft. He is able to take a simple classic and make it his own by mixing vintage spirits and unique liquors with freshly squeezed citrus juices and the essential oils of garden picked herbs. Some of his signature creations include the Michigander—Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, Cynar Amaro, honey syrup, fresh lemon juice, and finished with a grapefruit twist—and the Lady Derringer—Martin Miller’s Gin, Apricot Liqueur, Cocchi Torino Vermouth and topped with a lemon twist. 320MainSealBeach.com
The Hollywood Roosevelt has helped restore the glamour that was missing from the Boulevard for decades. The hotel contains some of the best bars in town, one of which is the Library Bar. Slightly hidden off the historic lobby, the drinks are served “Omakase-style,” or “I’ll leave it to you” in Japanese, meaning that patrons entrust the bartenders to work their magic. The bar is covered in beautiful farmer’s market produce that changes with seasonal availability. On any given night, you might find kumquats, Meyer lemons, blueberries, jalapeños, and red peppers on display that can be transformed into a delicious drink. LibraryBarLA.com
With its no reservation policy, you may have to wait a bit to eat at Craft & Commerce in San Diego’s Little Italy. It’s a good thing that this gastropub serves inventive cocktails to help make the waiting time fly by. The Dutch Flower mixes Genever, a Dutch gin, with the wildly popular St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Cointreau, lemon and a splash of Absinthe. Another favorite is the Tequila Gumption with spicy tequila, smoky mescal and sweet maraschino liqueur, balanced with both orange and Angostura bitters. Craft-Commerce.com
Located in the basement of the historic Higgins Building in downtown LA, in what used to be a power plant, The Edison is reminiscent of a 1920s lounge. While jazz plays in the background, absinthe “fairies” serve shots of the mystical green liquor. If you’re not ready to try this, select one of their original libations, such as their namesake cocktail, made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, pear liquor, clover honey syrup and fresh lemon juice. EdisonDowntown.com
Walk into Mesa and you feel as if you have entered a secret hideaway for the hip. Vine covered walls and a retractable roof allow the outdoors in, while nature scenes projected on the ceiling amplify the mood and bartenders happily mix some of the best cocktails in town. A favorite is The Bourbon and Cherries cocktail consisting of Jim Beam, Drunken Cherry and Ginger Ale and studded with Luxardo Cherries, which are unlike any maraschino you’ve seen or tasted—deep burgundy, candied and perfectly sweet. MesaCostaMesa.com
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