There are drinks, booze, liqueur and shots, and then there is the cocktail. These simple creations combine flavors in a way that scream subtlety and fun, often creating a more fulfilling feeling than just a beer or mixed drink. Cocktails combine a sweet element, something alcoholic and a bitter or sour component to balance out the flavor. When done right, there are more valid combinations than a bag of jelly beans. Check out these bars in Orange County for an idea of how it’s done.
300 N. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
www.littlesparrowcafe.comOn Main Street in Santa Ana sits Little Sparrow, one of the best cocktail bars in Orange County. A reservation is a smart idea, as this poppin’ eatery and gastropub has built quite the reputation on the back of its good food and killer cocktails. The menu changes on a monthly basis, so check out the website before going in for its tasty creations. Little Sparrow blends classic mixers with modern takes on the traditional cocktail, including the Barkeep’s Inspiration, in which the bartender asks you a series of questions before making something unique to your taste and personality.
1824 Newport Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
This cocktail bar in Costa Mesa was once known as the Helm, but has since changed its name and cleaned up its act in the form of The Boulevard. The Frank Sinatra quote on the home page tells you just about all you need to know about this trendy watering hole, as it take its boozing quite seriously. The drink prices are more than fair, especially compared to other places in both the OC and Los Angeles area. The drinks tend to stick to the sweet and fruity side of the scale, so come by if you like to leave the bitters at the bar.
8961 Adams Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
www.thecornerhb.comThe Corner isn’t the classiest bar in town, nor the most hip and cocktail-centric, but its happy hour prices and killer food makes it a winner. Some cocktail bars can be really stuffy and expect you to know exactly what you want and pay their steep prices to get it. The Corner stays true to Huntington Beach with a more relaxed and casual atmosphere, and some of the best mix of barbecue and Tex-Mex in the area. Grab a happy hour well cocktail while enjoying its bacon-wrapped dates: you won’t regret it.
Related: Best Singles Bars In Orange County
13902 Imperial Highway
La Mirada, CA 90638
www.facebook.com/pages/Sportsmans-LoungeIf you could not tell by the name, Sportsman’s Lounge in La Mirada caters to the sports fan in you. With big televisions, free pool tables and plenty of room to hoot and holler, this is not the kind of cocktail bar you would find James Bond at. That’s good news for you, however, as the lack of stuffy decor and improved surroundings makes this family-owned bar a place to come and grab a nice cocktail instead of pounding six beers in the parking lot of the local stadium. Mix in a little karaoke and you have a combination made for enjoying a nice mixed drink.
Rush Cocktail Lounge
6146 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90621
www.facebook.com/rushcocktailloungeOn the trendier side of things, we have Rush Cocktail Lounge. The authentic drinks and large drinking areas make for something a little more hip than the dimly lit jazz-filled cocktail bars you might be used to. The owners and staff take good care of those that care to join them and the prices are too good to pass up. This is another building that recently remodeled and usually caters to plenty of Ladies Nights situations. Bring your friends and fill up the bar, just be sure to tip well as you’ll have plenty of cash leftover.