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Apr 3, 2008 09:01 PM

Cocktail bar in Laguna or Corona del Mar?

A friend of mine just transferred jobs from New York City to Newport Beach. As part of his cultural adaptation, he's searching for a bar that serves real cocktails in addition to standard wines and beers. He's not looking for dives with heavy booze but interesting bars with a more diverse mix of cocktails. He misses the post work bar scene in Manhattan.

Any chowhound recommendations for real cocktails in the OC coastal areas?

Thanks for your help.

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  1. Well, OC has yet to catch on to the cutting edge (or is it retro?) cocktail scene. It's started up in LA, but it will be awhile before is reaches us in a big way.

    That said, Kristen Markley is the bar goddess at Oysters in Corona del Mar. She's tops at new wave cocktails, but they also serve mean classics.

    Nick Liu at Blue Coral (Fashion Island) is excellent as well. Vodka is a strong suit there. But others are good as well.

    Most of the top resort resto bars do credible work: Stonehill Tavern (St Regis), Studio (Montage), Duke's (Balboa Bay Club).

    Morton's is reliable-- their top barteneder 'Irish' is now at The Winery. He's worth a visit, always.

    Hope that helps a bit.

    1. If he's in the mood for something tropical, Tommy Bahama might fit the bill:

      1. Bandera in CDM is great for the 30-40 crowd.

        1. Places serving real drinks with decent to great food in Corona Del Mar would be Crow Bar and Kitchen, Bungalow, Oysters and Quiet Women.

          3 Replies
          1. re: cdmedici

            You know your stuff! I've been in the area for 30+ years and I would come up with the same list. Certainly if wines by the glass and a variety of interesting beers is important, the newish Crowbar and Kitchen wins hands down. They also have very interesting food (small plates/tapas style). The other three choices are also very good and are to be recommended, with the grand-dad of the bunch being the Quiet Woman. The QW has been around almost as long as I have and is one of the most consistent restaurants in Corona del Mar.

            1. re: josephnl

              Another thought was Port (formerly Svelte) but I went there about a month ago on a Sat night and there was like zero energy. It is sad because the food was quite good. I don't expect it to be around much longer.

              If the OP is wiling to drive up PCH to Newport Coast the bar in Mastros Ocean Club pours some serious (yet expensive) cocktails. Of course when I order Macallan Scotch there it is poured like a double. The same holds true for the Martinis....they are huge.

              1. re: cdmedici

                ... and they give you the shaker with almost another full glass in it, so not such a bad deal. Although I didn't think the food was worth the $$.

                For a great view in Laguna, the Splashes Bar at the Surf n Sand Hotel is nice. And since the OP didn't ask for great food...