ith a stunning view of docked yachts and the waterfront homes of Balboa Bay, it’s difficult to find a more genuine taste of SoCal luxury. But at A&O Kitchen + Bar, located in Balboa Bay Resort, the gastropub was looking for an even more authentic way to whet the California-curious palates of visitors and locals alike.
Enter A&O’s California Distilled Menu, a colorful assortment of craft cocktails made exclusively from Californian ingredients. From the spirits to the garnishes, Director of Beverage Ben Carpenter wanted to build a menu where every component came from a farm or distillery in the Golden State. The result? A beautiful, fall-ready celebration of Californian makers that could even teach a home-grown local a thing or two.
Not only do these cocktails share a local background, but they each also hold their own melodies and inspirations. Carpenter may be a master cocktail curator, but he’s also an incredible storyteller, so when you take a sip of these craft drinks, you’ll know that they were created with their own tales in mind.
“That time of year thou mayst in me behold / When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang…” Warm and balanced, this drink echoes California’s temperate falls and honey-colored foliage. Paying homage to his literary roots, Carpenter was inspired by the autumnal theme of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73. The woody and spicy mixture of the Breaker Bourbon and the Geijer Spirits California Fernet are perfectly accented by the medicinal bite of the Bitter Queens Sarsaparilla Bitters.
St. George Green Chile Vodka, St. George Basil Eau de Vie, heirloom tomato and fennel cordial, lemon
This delightfully savory cocktail could make any Italian think of home. For this drink, Carpenter was influenced heavily by his Italian heritage and upbringing. Comparable in taste to a Bloody Mary, Carpenter takes the classic tomato taste and makes it his own with the distinct and familiar flavors of St. George Green Chile Vodka and St. George Basil Eau de Vie. Molto bello!
Created by Head Bartender Travis Johnson, this sweet and spicy cocktail was inspired by the mulled spice scent that’s reminiscent of fall and winter holidays. The gorgeous blend of the Malahat Cabernet Aged Rum, Humboldt Spiced Rum, St. George Bruto Americano, and Jardesca RED Apertiva create a concoction that is as bold and stunning as it looks.
“She wore scarlet begonias tucked into her curls, I knew right away she was not like other girls…” This drink takes the bright and floral tune of the classic Grateful Dead song and turns it into its liquid incarnate. As Carpenter’s “riff on a classic daiquiri recipe,” the cocktail is a floral and fruity combination of sweet Ventura Spirits Strawberry Brandy, creamy Surf City Stillworks Shorebreak Vodka, and herbaceous Olive Heights Lavender Bitters.
We Used to Vacation
Malahat White Rum, Greenbar Grand Poppy Amaro, passion fruit cordial, kiwi, coconut, orange, lemon
For those of you still clinging onto the summer season, here’s your perfect cocktail. When bartender Sam Holeman put together this tropical concoction, he wanted the kiwi to be the star of the show. The kiwi, the Malahat White Rum, and the Greenbar Grand Poppy Amaro create a beautiful flavor that is fun, fruity, and reflective of California’s endless summer vibes.
Fashioned after what Carpenter calls “prototypical California cuisine,” this fresh, inviting, and botanical cocktail can make a mellow but surprising twist on any evening. If you love your greens and your herbs, then this drink is the way to go. Earthy, acidic, and herbaceous, it’s a memorable mixture of Chareau Aloe, Surf City Stillworks California Gin, and Mixwell Dandelion Tonic that’s highlighted by the cardamom bitters.
Last Train Home
Malahat Black Tea Rum, Amaro Angeleno, yuzu, turbinado, Bitter Queens Eucalyptus Bitters
“But there’s still tomorrow, forget the sorrow, and I can be on the last train home…” Much like the lyrics and melody to the song, this bittersweet and slightly spicy drink is a striking mixture of optimism and melancholy. The peppery flavor of the yuzu enhances the sweetness of the Malahat Black Tea Rum, the herby bitterness Amaro Angeleno, and the freshness of the Bitter Queens Eucalyptus Bitters.
Lost Spirits Navy Style Rum, St. George Pear Brandy, St. George Spiced Pear, activated charcoal, Bitter Queens Chinese 5 Spice Bitters, absinthe rinse
With its onyx appearance and captivating flavor, it’s easy to get lost in this mystifying cocktail. Sweet, spicy, and complex, each sip hints at the familiar taste of black licorice. The Lost Spirits Navy Style Rum and St. George Pear Brandy lend the drink its confection-like sweetness, and it gets its warmth from the St. George Spiced Pear and Bitter Queens Chinese 5 Spice Bitters. But don’t be fooled by its calm exterior; the absinthe rinse delivers a kick that will keep you coming back for more.