Best Holiday Cocktails OC
Credit: VEA Newport Beach

Making Spirits Bright: 10 Holiday Cocktails to Sip On in Orange County

From Peppermint Espresso Martinis to Irish Coffees, These Seasonal Sips Will Put You in the Holiday Spirit

Call us old-fashioned, but we can’t get enough of cozy Christmas-themed cocktails. ‘Tis the season for slow sipping, and we are here for all the yuletide libations at our favorite winter watering holes. Let’s put the cheers in holiday cheer, shall we? These 10 holiday cocktails in Orange County are sure to make your spirits bright.

 

Cocktail: Bourboncello 

Order at: Prego

Ingredients: Angel’s Envy Bourbon, Limoncello, Lemon Squeeze, and Lavender

Tucked inside The District at Tustin Legacy, Prego stands as a top-tier culinary destination, infusing authentic regional Italian flavors into its menu of freshly made pastas, market salads, grilled fish and sizzling steaks. This family-owned restaurant masterfully merges the rustic charm of old-world Italy with the dynamic buzz of a modern cosmopolitan eatery. A lively exhibition kitchen allows diners to watch the culinary finesse of Executive Chef Ugo Allesina and his team work their gastronomic magic.

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Just as the food menu rotates with the seasons, the cocktail list does as well. And this month, Prego launched a zesty new libation, but this one will be a mainstay on the menu. The Bourboncello blends Angel’s Envy Bourbon, limoncello, a squeeze of fresh lemon and lavender for a smooth and citrusy sip. This cocktail pairs perfectly with the linguine di mare, which is a savory combination of tiger shrimp, salmon, mussels, clams and spicy marinara. Stop in for a taste of truly authentic Italian cuisine and see why Prego continues to attract foodies seeking a taste of Italy in their own backyard.

Local Insight: Beyond its culinary prowess, Prego has earned accolades from the Restaurant Writers’ Association and the Wine and Food Society of Southern California, solidifying its status as a distinguished dining destination for over three decades!

Location: Tustin

 

Cocktail: Peppermint Espresso Martini

Order at: Oak Restaurant

Ingredients: Peppermint-Infused Vodka, Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur, Espresso, Bailey’s

We all remember taking peppermint patty shots in college (or is that just us?)—you know, the fratty yet festive dose of peppermint schnapps topped off with a healthy dollop of Hershey’s chocolate syrup, swished around and swallowed to make a dangerously delicious Christmas combo. This holiday cocktail in Orange County is like the adult version of that. It’s a little bit tingle and a little bit Kris Kringle. It’ll get you buzzed both ways with the espresso-alcohol infusion and is being served alongside some other seasonal favorites, such as the smoked pumpkin old-fashioned and the frosted cranberry gin drink at Oak in Laguna Beach.

Location: Laguna Beach

 

Cocktail: Frisky Elf

Order at: Pier Summit Ski Lodge Pop-up at Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach

Ingredients: Cinnamon Orange Nutmeg-Infused Astral Reposado, Abuelita Hot Chocolate

Credit: Kristin Teig Frisky Elf

You don’t even need a hot tub time machine to transport yourself back to the ‘80s to après ski around the Christmas tree. Pier Summit Ski Lodge is a pop-up bar experience at the Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach that will satisfy all of your winter wonderland fantasies. Located right down the street from the ice rink at Paséa Hotel & Spa, this over-the-top cocktail stop features live music on Wednesdays and plenty of in-theme food and drink offerings to make you forget the forecast is 75 and sunny for the foreseeable future. We are particularly into the Frisky Elf—a spiked hot chocolate—and the Big Foot, a bourbon beverage garnished with a toasted marshmallow. Don’t forget the fireside fondue for two and take at least one go on the shot ski before you head back to reality!

Location: Huntington Beach

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Cocktail: Bad Apple

Order at: Mayfield

Ingredients: Nosotros Tequila, Apple, Orange, Cinnamon, Clove, Yuzu

At the corner of the Wild West and winter wonderland is San Juan Capistrano. This cowboy hat-toting town has just about as many horses as houses, and they like it that way. It is also home to some of our favorite OC restaurants like Mediterranean-inspired Mayfield, an Instagrammable eatery with immaculate vibes. Try the Bad Apple when you visit—a limited-time libation that is equal parts sugar and spice and everything nice. And even better? For every cocktail sold, Mayfield donates $1 to the Middle East Humanitarian Crisis, so you’ll be giving back as you knock one back.

Location: San Juan Capistrano

 

Cocktail: Santa’s Little Helper

Order at: VEA Holiday Hideout Pop-up

Ingredients: Braulio, Green Chartreuse, Hot Cocoa

Best Holiday Cocktails OC
Credit: VEA Newport Beach

New, hip hotel VEA Newport Beach is celebrating the holidays this year with their speakeasy-inspired Holiday Hideout, which is serving up seasonal cocktails and appetizers for anyone looking to get a little holly and a whole lot of jolly. No reservations are required at this reindeer rest stop, and all are encouraged to stop in to sip on a Santa’s Little Helper: a spiked hot chocolate drink that is nostalgic with a hint of naughty. This special pop-up is open Thursday through Sunday from 5 p.m. until midnight and is sure to delight even the biggest of Scrooges.  

Location: Newport Beach

 

Cocktail: The Grinch

Order at: A+O Restaurant | Bar

Ingredients: Brandy, Green Crème Liqueur

A+O Restaurant | Bar at Balboa Bay Resort is California Christmas at its finest. Have you ever seen Newport Harbor lit up for the holidays? Well, now you can with unobstructed oceanfront views at A+O Restaurant | Bar. Try to reserve one of their outdoor fire pits so you can snack and sip to the sounds of the sea—or the live music on the weekends. If you’re not feeling very merry and bright, The Grinch holiday cocktail might be the one for you. This creamy brandy delight is sure to make you change your yuletide tune.

Location: Newport Beach

 

Cocktail: Proper Irish Coffee

Order at: The Cauldron

Ingredients: Jameson Whiskey, Coffee, Cream

Credit: Will Hare Photography

Located right down the road from Knotts Berry Farm is a cozy little enclave called The Cauldron. This place oozes homey vibes with its giant fireplace and overstuffed furniture. The signature drink here ain’t fancy, but it’s a classic: Irish coffee. It involves three ingredients: coffee, whiskey and cream. Simple, delicious and a bit dangerous—that’s how good it is. It’s a great holiday cocktail to start or end the night with. Pair it with their French onion soup for an extra cozy evening.

Location: Buena Park

 

Cocktail: Whiskey Cocktail 4

Order at: Solstice

Ingredients: Rittenhouse Rye, Date Simple Syrup, Angostura Bitters, Walnut Bitters, Applewood Smoke, Prosciutto-Wrapped Date

Best Holiday Cocktails OC
Credit: Outshine PR

Season’s greetings from Solstice! Take a little journey down Jamboree to grab a drink or two at this beloved beverage pit stop in Irvine. Sure, they have the classics like a French 75, but they also have some souped-up cocktails that are hand-crafted and dressed up with a bow for Christmas. One of our favorites is the Whiskey Cocktail 4: a sweet, salty, nutty creation garnished with a prosciutto-wrapped date. Yes, you read that right. Get one of everything off the snacks menu and get ready to double fist with a Parker House roll drenched in apple butter in one hand and a drink in the other. One thing we love about Solstice is they are sober-curious-friendly and any cocktail can be made a mocktail with nutrient-packed aloe vera juice instead of the featured spirit.

Location: Irvine

 

Cocktail: Naughty ‘Nana

Order at: THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon

Ingredients: Tempus Fugit Banana Liqueur, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, Heavy Cream

Best Holiday Cocktails OC
Credit: The Ranch Restaurants & Saloon

THE RANCH in Anaheim is an institution. It’s part hip restaurant, part honky tonk saloon and is all about eating, drinking and being merry. This Michelin Guide mainstay is serving up food and fun, but we are here to talk about the drinks, particularly their Naughty ‘Nana cocktail, which is a bubbly banana beverage that is boozy and basically a dessert in a glass. It’s almost like an eggnog had a romantic rendezvous with a daiquiri, and we couldn’t think of a better beverage to fuel your two-step. It really does taste like you can dance. See you at the saloon!

Location: Anaheim

 

Cocktail: Figment of Your Imagination

Order at: The Blind Rabbit

Ingredients: Gin, Lo-Fi Vermouth, Figs, Fig Balsamic

The Blind Rabbit is a speakeasy located inside the Anaheim Packing House, and reservations are absolutely required. They do cocktails and do them well here—it’s kind of their thing. Enjoy a Figment of Your Imagination, which is a gin-forward drink sweetened with figs along with a little tang from a fig balsamic. You can expect that Anaheim Packing House will be dressed up for the holidays, so you should too! This is a great spot to sneak in before hitting up an Anaheim Ducks hockey game. Be sure to scope out their house rules before you go!

Location: Anaheim

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Jane Adler is a marketing and branding consultant by trade, but a writer by preference. She shares a name with Meryl Streep's iconic character from It's Complicated and is presently trying to manifest that life (particularly that Santa Barbara house) for herself. Jane is an avid consumer of content and carbs and often used the latter to write on the former.

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