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Best Places for Negronis in Orange County

Header_Blind Rabbit 610 negroni
(Credit: The Blind Rabbit)

It's Negroni Week and we all know what that means: it's time to have a cocktail! Participating bars and restaurants are mixing up these drinks to give back, donating a portion of every Negroni sold to the charity of their choice from June 6 to 12. The Italian aperitif, or before dinner drink, is made up of equal parts of gin, vermouth and Campari, but bartenders often blend their own variations as well. While these spots may or may not be participating in Negroni Week, these are our picks for the best places to sip a Negroni in Orange County.

Casa Costa mesa negroni
(Credit: Daniel Zarate)

820 West 19th Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(949) 877-0075

This modern speakeasy is the perfect spot to find Negronis. In honor of Negroni Week, Casa's featured drink is the Bitter Bear. This cocktail contains Loft & Bear vodka, distilled locally in Los Angeles, along with Campari, sweet vermouth, cardamom, vanilla, rosemary and orange oils. In addition to their special drink, the bar offers a classic Negroni as well—gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, complete with the orange twist. Bar Director Daniel Zarate says that the Negroni was created as a modification to the Americano, which differs only in that it contains soda water rather than gin. Along with your Negroni, take in Casa's fabulous décor; with beautiful wallpaper, antique mirrors and bookcases, Casa provides a unique alternative to OC's beach bars.

Blind Rabbit negroni
(Credit: The Blind Rabbit)

The Blind Rabbit
East Santa Ana Street
Anaheim, CA 92805

The Blind Rabbit, known as one of the few speakeasies in Anaheim, offers a similar experience to Casa, but with unique and different Negroni options. The bar partners with a charity called Inspire Artistic Minds for Negroni Week and, this year, their specials include a few candy-themed cocktails. While you can order a classic Negroni at The Blind Rabbit throughout the year, these variations provide an extra treat for Negroni lovers. The first is the Everlasting Gobstopper, a drink that blends bourbon with vanilla-infused Campari, a Ruby Port and orange bitters. The cocktail is garnished with a homemade Campari lollipop. Another special is the Coffee Negroni, which features two different kinds of rum—one of which is coffee flavored—alongside an Italian vermouth and Campari. The Negroroni blends Campari and rum with a bittersweet Italian amaro and black walnut bitters. The final special is the Negronilada, a concoction of bourbon, pineapple juice, vermouth, Campari and coconut cream over ice with vanilla tincture and homemade Negroni gummy bears.

Cucina Enoteca negroni
(Credit: Urban Kitchen Group)

CUCINA enoteca
532 Spectrum Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 861-2222

For a fruity variation of the classic Negroni, try CUCINA enoteca's Blood Orange Negroni. The drink features a blood orange infused grappa, Campari, a red vermouth called Carpano Antica and grapefruit bitters that are made on-site. The cocktail is then served in a six-ounce bottle with a grapefruit peel as garnish rather than the standard orange peel. The restaurant's menu also features a standard version of the Negroni, which is made with gin, Campari and the same red vermouth used in the blood orange variation. With plenty of alfresco and communal seating, the restaurant's welcoming atmosphere is great for groups. CUCINA enoteca will be donating proceeds from Negronis to The Pet Rescue Center for Negroni Week.

Haven Gastropub negroni
(Credit: Haven Gastropub)

Haven Gastropub
190 South Glassell Street
Orange, CA 92866
(714) 221-0680

Haven Gastropub, located at the Circle in Old Towne Orange, offers three Negroni variations that are sure to delight visitors. The first, known as the Negroni Oranje, mixes gin and Italian vermouth, but it contains Aperol, another Italian aperitif, in place of Campari. It is garnished with an orange peel, as is the Oaxacan Negroni, a combination of mescal—a liquor made from the agave plant—blended with the red vermouth Carpano Antica and coffee-infused Campari. The third variation, the West Coast Boulevardier, mixes Carpano Antica with Wild Turkey whiskey and grapefruit-infused Aperol. The cocktail is then garnished with a grapefruit peel. During Negroni week, the gastropub will be donating a portion of Negroni sales to the local Second Harvest Food Bank. In addition to their cocktails, Haven has a menu that includes locally sourced food as well as an extensive selection of craft beer and wine.

Brunos Italian Kitchen negroni
(Credit: Brunos Italian Kitchen)

Brunos Italian Kitchen
210 West Birch Street
Brea, CA 92821
(714) 257-1000

An Italian restaurant is possibly one of the best places to find a Negroni. The mixologist at Brunos Italian Kitchen stirs up the traditional gin, Campari and Carpano Antica, a red vermouth. While the Negroni is a famed Italian cocktail, the restaurant offers a selection of other drinks that originated in Italy. Try the Venetian Spritz, made with pinot grigio, Aperol, oranges and olives, or the Milano Manhattan, which contains rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Aperol and cherries. Another Italian offering at Brunos is the '865' Spritz, a refreshing blend of Prosecco, Campari and Pimm's mixed with cucumber, lemon and ginger. Portions of the Negroni sales will benefit a local charity known as The Mobile Closet, which donates blankets and clothing to those in need.

370 Common negroni
(Credit: Three Seventy Common)

Three Seventy Common
370 Glenneyre Street
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 494-8686

Located in the gorgeous Laguna Beach, Three Seventy Common offers a somewhat traditional Negroni, made with American gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. But rather than including equal parts of each ingredient, the gin is doubled, making it a bit stronger than other Negronis. Stirred and served over an oversize ice cube, the drink isn't complete until it's garnished with the standard orange twist. In addition to their Negroni, Three Seventy Common has a wide selection of cocktails on their menu, most of which are made with rye whiskey, vodka, gin or bourbon, as well as innovative cuisine. As their name implies, the restaurant is intended to be a common space for locals to come together, relax and share a drink.

ARC negroni
(Credit: ARC Food & Libations)

ARC Food & Libations
3321 Hyland Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(949) 500-5561

Though you can't tell from the exterior, ARC Food & Libations is a beautifully rustic spot perfect for sipping Negronis. Located in a mostly industrial area, the stunning interior—full of dark wood, brick design and metal accents—comes as a complete shock. Offered year-round on the ARC menu, the Stirred & Bitter is a Negroni variation that delights diners. The cocktail is made with gin, Campari and Calisaya rather than vermouth. Served over ice, it is garnished with a lemon peel instead of the traditional orange. Their menu includes a variety of other high-quality drinks as well, like the Gloom, crafted with gin, lavender, lemon and Cocchi Americano, a white aperitif wine, or the Creole Love Call, consisting of rye whiskey, Campari and creole bitters. Soak up the sun during the day on their intimate patio, or visit at night to sit alongside fire pits and French lanterns.

320 Main negroni
(Credit: 320 Main)

320 Main
320 Main Street
Seal Beach, CA 90740
(562) 799-6246

Known for their drinks, 320 Main strives to find the balance between crafting classic cocktails and offering new, innovative blends. In an effort to find that equilibrium, they created the Negroni's Loss, a take on the classic Negroni that is just a little bit different. Rather than standard gin, the recipe calls for genever, a Dutch liquor that gin derived from. While that is the heaviest ingredient in the drink, it also includes Carpano Antica sweet vermouth and Gran Classico Bitters. Served in an old-fashioned glass, a Negroni's Loss is garnished with both lemon and orange twists. Aside from the Negroni, 320 Main offers cocktails like the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned, the Mai Tai, the Pineapple Daiquiri and the Antique Lemon Drop.

Hopscotch Tavern negroni
(Credit: Hopscotch Tavern)

Hopscotch Tavern
136 East Commonwealth Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832
(714) 871-2222

While whiskey and craft beer are the main appeal at Hopscotch Tavern, their Negronis are worth checking out as well. They have three different types, each with its own fruity aspect. In the first, they infuse strawberries with the gin used to make a strawberry-infused Negroni. Another is the barrel-aged Negroni, which features Asian pear and mint in the drink. A third uses barrel-aged Campari, rather than barrel-aged gin, combined with grapefruit bitters. The cocktails at Hopscotch Tavern change with the season, using fresh ingredients to craft specialty drinks. With the Dealer's Choice, you choose from whiskey or gin and the bartender will craft you a drink of their choice. The tavern also offers whiskey flights, which consist of three 10-ounce pours of pre-selected whiskeys.

Settebello negroni
(Credit: Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana)

Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana
7864 East Coast Highway
Newport Coast, CA 92657
(949) 715-2072

Italian restaurant Settebello Pizzerie Napoletana in Newport Coast offers two different types of Negronis. Their classic, of course, includes gin, Campari and vermouth. The alternative is the Dutch Negroni, a variation with a couple of changes from the original. Instead of gin, the Dutch Negroni contains genever—which is where the name comes from, as gin evolved from the Dutch liquor genever. The recipe still calls for the same Cocchi di Torino vermouth used in the standard Negroni, but the traditional Campari is traded for Aperol in this variation. Beyond drinks, Settebello's menu is filled with Italian offerings, many of which use ingredients imported from Italy. The restaurant imports flour for their pizza crust as well as Parmesan cheese, tomatoes and prosciutto cotto, an Italian style ham. Couple your meal with a Negroni for a traditional Italian experience complete with Italian ingredients.

Ashley Ryan is an Orange County native that loves traveling, live music and photography. She blogs at Pure Wander and freelances for a variety of publications including Newport Beach Magazine and Laguna Beach Magazine.
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