These five idyllic cocktails will set the tone—and help you cool off—this summer.
By Molly O’Brien
Summer has officially arrived, and with warm weather comes a desire for icy cocktails to beat the heat. Luckily, in Laguna Beach, there’s no shortage of hot destinations to indulge in a refreshing adult beverage. Many of these favorite local outposts boast panoramic ocean views that can be enjoyed along with the cocktails. Whether it’s gathering together with longtime friends, meeting up with someone special or a solo outing, these drinks won’t disappoint. Here are five go-to summer sips to add to your boozy bucket list.
Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill
Immediately upon entering Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill, visitors will take in the elegant Polynesian decor and the sounds of reggae and Hawaiian music filling the air. Royal Hawaiian’s signature Lapu Lapu cocktail is no doubt one of Laguna’s signature summer sips. This tropical drink has been part of the restaurant’s cocktail menu since 1947. It features a collection of three distinct types of rums—light, dark and Jamaica—blended into a well-balanced mix of pineapple and orange juice as well as house-made orgeat (an almond syrup). The masterpiece is garnished with a pineapple wedge and topped with a beautiful orchid and paper umbrella. It’s a classic, refreshing and strong cocktail that has truly stood the test of time.
Soak up the sunshine and the coastline at Las Brisas, which sits atop the Laguna Beach cliffs and hosts breathtaking views of the sand and iconic sunsets over the sea. Although this historic building dates back to the 1930s, the restaurant’s robust cocktail menu is anything but outdated. A must-try drink while visiting is the Acapulco Style. Its name pays homage to one of Las Brisas’ longtime servers, who hails from Acapulco and has been working at the eatery for nearly 30 years. “It’s made with 100% agave silver tequila, passion fruit [and] lime juice, and then we finish it with Champagne,” says Michael Gaines, director of food and beverage development for Xperience Restaurant Group, which includes Las Brisas. “It’s a really fun, bright-colored drink reminiscent of summertime and vacation.” Light and refreshing, this cocktail is perfect for the warmer weather, paired with the views from this iconic oceanside eatery.
Comedor—named after the Spanish term for “dining room”—reflects Southern California’s blend of rich history and vibrant, modern culture. Opened earlier this year in La Casa del Camino hotel, the restaurant’s Spanish revival accents such as the stately carrara marble and carved wooden tables, wrought-iron chandeliers, Gothic sconces and colorful tiles create a cozy, yet sophisticated dining space in addition to a small patio. Comedor’s mixologist, Nicholas Hoy, describes the lavender daiquiri as “simple but elegant.” This rum-based drink features fresh lime juice and house-made, lavender-infused syrup, and is garnished with an edible pansy. He says visitors should be forewarned that while this cocktail is called a daiquiri, it’s not a blended drink—rather, it’s served in the more traditional cocktail form, like a martini.
The Greeter cocktail is a tribute to the rich history that surrounds the location of the popular Sapphire, Cellar-Craft-Cook restaurant. Sapphire’s peaceful patio is perched at the lively site of the old Pottery Shack, dating back to the 1930s. For this reason, the generously sized slushy cocktail is served in a large pottery mug—and its name is inspired by the “greeter” who would welcome people coming into the seaside city. The drink is made with the perfect mix of vodka, Aperol, watermelon seltzer, lime, lavender syrup, cucumber and a touch of Angostura bitters, garnished with lavender flowers. It’s a quintessential beach beverage and it’s just as tasty as it is eye-catching. “It’s kind of like when you’re a kid, watching them put the syrup that’s on top of a snow cone,” says Gabe Whorley, beverage director and founding partner of Sapphire, Cellar-Craft-Cook, who’s also the creator of this frosty drink. “It catches your eye. When you see this big, 20-ounce mug going by that looks like a giant snow cone, you say ‘Wow, that looks awesome—I want to try that.’ ”
The Rooftop Lounge
The Rooftop Lounge is a classic beachside dining experience, situated atop the iconic La Casa del Camino hotel with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. This wholly outdoor space features charming rattan bistro seating, treated wood tables, modern decor, an abundance of lush greenery and original Spanish tile accents that complement both the scenic coastal skyline and the landmark hotel’s ambiance. The Rooftop Lounge serves a collection of signature mojitos, well known for their fresh and thirst-quenching flavors. Those who want to stick to a classic can order the standard variety made with Cruzan rum, lime juice and mint leaves, topped off with soda water. Those seeking a trip into what feels like island time can opt for the Tropical mojito, which builds on the original version with coconut rum and pineapple juice—or the mango mojito fixed up with mango rum. But perhaps the best option is just to order all three to sip while watching the sky fill with pinks and purples as the sun sinks below the horizon.