You Would Never Know About This Speakeasy in Irvine

Craft Cocktails, a Living Room Setting and a Cool Mixologist Make the Perfect Recipe for a Friday Night

Written By: Chelsea Raineri YNK Irvine Marriott

It’s Friday night. You’ve had a long week and you’re looking for a place to kickback, relax and enjoy a delicious craft cocktail. Enter YNK (You Never Know), the trendy speakeasy you probably didn’t know about at the Irvine Marriott, owned by the Ellis Adams Group. Cleverly named for their constantly changing menu, YNK offers a new, creative and innovative cocktail menu every three months that reflects the culture of a different country. The atmosphere at YNK is, how would you say, living room goals? Brightly colored couches and decorations line the room with a fluffy area rug that makes you feel right at home. “It feels like a living room, so everyone in here just starts talking,” said mixologist, Ravin Buzzell in reference to how intimate of a setting the small venue offers.

Buzzell creates drinks that are everything you’ve ever hoped for in a cocktail. Presentation? Check. Taste? Triple check. His cool, carefree persona perfectly complements the atmosphere and puts you at ease. Open the menu that’s bound by leather with thick pages like a sketch book. You’ll see words and drawings, courtesy of Buzzell himself, that state the name of each drink and what components bring it all together.

This past month, the cocktail menu has taken a trip out east to the rustic country of Italy and it’s here to stay for the summer. Previously highlighting Spain, Buzzell’s favorite drink to make from the Italian menu is the Aperol Spritz with Aperol, lemon juice, prosecco and cucumber soda. The drink is dressed with thinly sliced ribbons of cucumber intricately wrapped throughout the drink. One sip of this drink and you’ll immediately fall in love, if not with Buzzell’s craftsmanship, the watermelon Jolly Rancher flavor will have you over the moon.

“For first timers, I’d recommend the Sgroppino. It’s really light and refreshing,” said Buzzell. With the texture of a meringue floating at the top of the drink with the perfect pluck of mint leaves, this dessert-like drink is made with vodka, lemon sorbet, and prosecco. So simple, yet the perfect drink to round out your day.

Other drinks on the Italian menu include the Lavender Bellini, with refreshing pieces of lavender mixed in along with a peach puree that’s made in-house. Beer lover? Opt for the Shandy, almost like an adult lemonade, made with Italian lager, lemon juice and ginger ale. If you have a sweet tooth, order the Americano. Made with vanilla cream soda, this cocktail reminds you of summer days as a kid with a creamsicle in hand.

Saving the best for last, Buzzell’s specialty Old Fashioned is not what you’d expect it to taste like—it’s better, much better. Made with cardamom and simple syrup, order this drink and you might just see a twinkle in Buzzell’s eye as this is his flawless creation. He pulls out a large crystal decanter, and a tool that looks like a drill with a black hose attached, which he places the end inside of the decanter. He puts some applewood inside of the smoking gun, lights it and the show begins. The decanter engulfs with smoke as the room fills with the delightful fragrance of smoked applewood. Once filled, Buzzell carefully pours the whiskey into the decanter, places the lid on top and swishes the contents around before pouring you your new favorite drink.

Next time you’re feigning a relaxing night with great conversation and drink from heaven, head to YNK for an evening you’re sure to remember—and trust us, you’ll be back soon.

Irvine Marriott
18000 Von Karman Ave
Irvine, CA 92612
We’ve Made Your New Weekend Plans—You’re Welcome

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Born and raised in Orange County, Chelsea is a local through and through. A true foodie at heart, you can find Chelsea face first in a grilled cheese or in line for the latest food craze. A Magna Cum Laude graduate from Chapman University, she is excited to bring her passion for writing, editing, and all things trendy to Locale Magazine.


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