Seek Shelter From the Storm at One of These OC Whiskey Bars
As the nights get longer and cooler, SoCal locals are trading in fruity, frozen drinks for a glass of amber-hued heaven. Smoky, malty and smooth, whiskey is a complex spirit that evokes a feeling of warmth, relaxation and a craving for a comfortable armchair, a cozy fireplace and the pitter-patter of rain hitting the window. While it isn’t necessarily known for its dark and stormy weather, Orange County has a handful of whiskey bars that can fulfill your rainy day fantasy—even when it’s 76° and sunny outside.
Nestled on the side of Five Crowns in Corona del Mar, SideDoor has become a local favorite for its cozy, tavern-style atmosphere, delicious, hearty food and of course, an eclectic and ever-growing whisky list. For no additional charge, you can join in and partake in SideDoor’s Whisky Wednesday experience—simply pay for the cost of a flight of whisky! The flights consist of three 1-ounce pours that can range from $22 to $75, depending on which whiskys are being highlighted that week. “In a casual and comfortable manner, you can learn about whiskey from all around the world from the experts who sell it,” Beverage Manager Tracy Nelsen explains. “Special flights are available each Wednesday with the whisky they are talking about that evening. You’ll get one-on-one attention and the opportunity to get all your questions answered.” Feel free to ask your SideDoor bartender about new bottles that might not be in the beverage book yet—the SideDoor team always has something new in the works!
@localemag Testing out minute long videos that are informational to see how they compare to 5 second videos with no value. This is the #cheesemonger at #sidedoor at #fivecrowns in #coronadelmar in #newportbeach describing the charcuterie offering. I think I’m in love with this. #localemagazine #orangecounty #ocfoodie #ocdateideas #speakeasy ♬ original sound – Locale
Local Insight: Upcoming tastings include: Oct. 12 (Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey), Oct. 19 (Irish Whiskey), Oct. 26 (Kentucky Whiskey), Nov. 2 (Remus and Rossville Whiskeys) and Nov. 9 (Tullamore Dew).
Location: Corona del Mar
We love Dana Point’s sunshiny views as much as the next guy, but looking out at the Lantern District during gray, rainy weather while enjoying some “dirty” hand-cut fries and sipping on one of Craft House’s old fashioneds is definitely a vibe that we can’t get enough of. Chef Blake Mellgren and his bar crew pride themselves on providing a unique and impressive whiskey collection that could please any aficionado. Boasting over 160 bottles of whiskey, bourbon and rye, Craft House’s allocated bottles are so rare, they only receive one bottle per year and can only be served in single-ounce pours.
Location: Dana Point
No matter what the weather’s like outside, The Blind Rabbit completely transports patrons to a new place. Dark, mysterious and maybe even a little magical, this neighborhood speakeasy and cocktail bar beckons locals and visitors alike into its moody, reservations-only den. Enter through the sake barrels and take an assigned seat to enjoy an intimate setting, delicious seasonal eats and specialty cocktails crafted and served with the utmost care. Whiskey lovers can chat with their bartenders for the perfect pour or the ideal cocktail, then channel their dark and stormy alter ego as they sip and people-watch.
Aside from its killer brunch, Irvine and Orange locals gravitate toward Bosscat Kitchen & Libations for its impressive whiskey bar. Here, it’s easy to relax and learn more about your favorite spirit, whether you’re drinking it neat or mixed in one of their delicious cocktails. With over 300 select bottles of whiskey, bourbon and Scotch from around the globe, there’s more than enough variety to try something new every time you visit. Having a tough time deciding on a whiskey to enjoy with your whiskey Brussels sprouts and Bosscat Burger? Ask one of Bosscat’s whiskey specialists!
Locations: Irvine, Orange
Open Wednesday through Sunday, Blinking Owl Distillery is serving up artisan libations and eats from Chef Luis Perez and Pie Maestro Eddie Perez. The bar and bistro area, which overlooks the distillery, gives off effortless Art Deco-meets-Steampunk-chic vibes, making it the perfect hideaway during stormy weather. But in case you’d rather stay in the next time OC gets a rainy day, remember to pick up a few bottles of award-winning Blinking Owl whiskey, such as the California Straight Bourbon Whiskey, California Straight Bourbon Whiskey Small Batch Wheated and Blinking Owl California Straight Rye Whiskey. All Blinking Owl spirits are distilled from 100% Californian grains, and the distillery also offers a Whiskey MBA Program (Making, Barrelling and Aging).
Location: Santa Ana
Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.