February is National Cherry Month, and Orange County has no shortage of ways to enjoy the delicious flavor of cherries. From drinks to desserts, you can find ways to get the cherry fix you seek. Here are some of the best options for cherry lovers throughout Orange County.
The Daily Dose
2963 Michelson Drive
Irvine, CA 92612
One of the things about cherry cocktails is that they can easily be too sweet. That is not the case with the Me So Horny at The Daily Dose. The drink is one part cherry vodka and three parts champagne. This is topped with one part hard cider, garnished with a maraschino cherry and served in a champagne flute. The presentation is nice and the sweetness of the cherry vodka is mitigated by the dryness of both the cider and champagne. With Valentine’s Day coming up soon, this is a good cocktail to keep in mind.
448 S Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Gelato is one of those foods that is good at any time and Gelato Paradiso does it right with all 24 flavors made in small batches every day. The wild cherry flavor is a true treat. It is sweet and creamy and you’ll find cherry halves throughout it, no matter what size container you have. This is great as a treat while you walk around Laguna Beach, but it would also be a great dessert after a savory dinner like pork roast. Gelato Paradiso offers half-pint, pint, quart and gallon sizes, so you can buy enough to take home and share with dinner guests who are sure to appreciate it. Gelato Paradiso can also be found at Whole Foods and some of Orange County’s farmers markets.
Layer Cake Bakery
4250 Barranca Parkway
Irvine CA 92604
If you like nothing better than a delicious cherry pie, Layer Cake Bakery is a good place to go, although it does have some restrictions. The cherry pie is only available seasonally and in the 9-inch size. If you want the goodness of the cherry pie from Layer Cake, you need to order it in advance. Still, part of what makes something good is the rarity of it, and if you walk out of this bakery with a cherry pie, you won’t have any complaints.
French’s Cupcake Bakery
273 E 17th St.
Costa Mesa CA 92627
Black Forest cake is the perfect combination of chocolate and cherries. The Black Forest cake at French’s is a great example of that combination and it looks like a big heap of sin. The chocolate cake, which is made fresh to order, is topped with cherries and whipped cream and drizzled with more chocolate. This cake is available throughout the year, but only by special order. If you want to experience this dessert, order it a day in advance.
The Swinging Door
355 El Camino Real
Tustin CA 92780
Even if it’s not summer, you can enjoy a summertime punch at The Swinging Door. The drink is a healthy pour of cherry vodka, one part lime vodka (lime juice can be used if lime vodka is not available), topped off with orange juice, and served over ice in a pint glass. This is sweet and refreshing, which is both the appeal and the danger of this cocktail. The lime helps temper the sweetness, but the prevailing flavor is orange juice and that is where the danger lies. It would be real easy to knock back more of these than is sensible. If you start drinking the summertime punch here, make sure you have a driver, or arrange for a cab.
Gary Schwind is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. His work can be found on Examiner.com.