When South Coast Plaza opened in 1967, the cocktail scene was fashionably Tiki, mixed with classic martinis, shaken, not stirred. Fast-forward to now, where the current cocktail canvas is vibrant with options. Here’s to toasting half a century and cheers to the next 50!
ANQI BY HOUSE OF AN Pink Lotus Don’t be surprised to see a sugar-rimmed martini glass filled with a pinch of pink cotton candy next to a small cocktail shaker. After a few shakes from your server, the vodka, fresh pink grapefruit and orange juice melt the yummy spun candy. THE CAPITAL GRILLE Stoli Doli It’s only a hundred calories, but the Stoli Doli doesn’t taste skinny. Its simplicity is exquisite: Dole pineapples are marinated in Russian Stolichnaya vodka for a week, pressed and then shaken over ice. Although only fruit and booze, the drink is approachable, tropical and refreshing. LEATHERBY’S CAFE ROUGE Lavender French 75 Celebrating 50 years with bubbly seems apropos, and this World War I era cocktail named after a French field cannon gets a floral twist with a touch of lavender syrup. The perfect drink before a night of theater. MORTON’S THE STEAKHOUSE State Street Manhattan Is there another cocktail that embodies a restaurant more, starting with the three-bite New York strip steak garnish? Named after the original Morton’s location in Chicago, this take on a beloved standard has notes of coconut, cinnamon and nutmeg from the bourbon barrel, followed by orange and aged cherry.
PIZZERIA ORTICA Ammazzagrappa Sip on beverage manager Joel Caruso’s Ammazzagrappa, and you’re transported to Italy. Each ingredient is like a kiss on the cheek: bittersweet Italian liqueur (amaro), grappa (distilled wine) and orange bitters are the bolder first tastes, followed by nuances of chocolate, toffee, orange, vanilla and tiramisu, subtle on the palate. SEASONS 52 Bourbon Berry Bramble Seasons 52 has made its name on fresh seasonality, and nothing says spring like berries. This fruity bramble cocktail bursts with juicy muddled raspberries and blackberries in a couple of fingers of Maker’s Mark and St. Germain. Think of a boozy berry pie. VACA The Vaca Tonic Spain’s gin and tonic obsession gets a slushy twist at chef Amar Santana’s Vaca. Bar director Michael Rooney slow-churns Brooklyn Small Batch Gin and Fever-Tree’s Mediterranean Tonic in a frozen cocktail machine and serves it icy, topped with fragrant basil blossoms. WATER GRILL Margarita Verde Pastel green in color with a festive cucumber, basil and jalapeño-lime nose, this favorite has all the makings of a spa day at a five-star Mexican resort. The ancho chile salt rim adds a touch of smoky heat, complemented by a balance of tangy agave and citrus.
Stemware: Baccarat, “Cocktail Party in a Box,” set of eight crystal cocktail glasses: CHATEAU BACCARAT Flute, Wine; VEGA Flute, Martini, Highball; HARCOURT Tumbler, Wine Glass; BIBA Tumbler.