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Signature Cocktail Tour, Redlands 2022

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The time has come! Grab a buddy and get ready to weave through town tasting some of Redlands' finest signature cocktails and mocktails. Not sure what a signature cocktail and mocktail are?? Keep reading to find out...

What makes a signature drink, signature?

When a restaurant or bar provides a signature list, those are the cocktails to try. It's what sets apart one establishment from another. These cocktails can change seasonally or become a restaurant's staple—a fan favorite bringing customers back for more. Signature cocktails are developed with a personal touch, pulling ideas from cuisine, utilizing local ingredients, emulating the establishment's culture or theme, or creating an off-the-cuff experience in a glass. Every cocktail must have balance and versatility, appeal to the senses, and taste delightful!

What makes a mocktail a mocktail?

The mocktail: a nonalcoholic mixed drink made with the same care and craft as any other cocktail. These beverages have matured from mixtures of juices to replicating some classic cocktails. Mocktails have become more popular as alcohol purveyors expand their selection to those adjusting to healthier life choices or partaking in "Dry January" or "Sober October" by providing nonalcoholic spirits, wine, and beer. Some establishments take mocktails very seriously in that they make sure the bitters they use are also nonalcoholic.

Disclaimer: We encourage you to ask your bartender or server what signature cocktail or mocktail they would suggest. Since some establishments may not provide a list of house mocktails, it can make it easier on them to create something unique for you to enjoy.

This time around...

We wanted to provide a road map from start to finish. You, of course, do not have to follow our exact path ­­– feel free to begin at Aroi Mak Mak and end at Oscar’s! Just remember to drink responsibly, stay hydrated, and make sure to have a designated driver.

Cheers!

First Stop

Oscar's Mexican Restaurant

Champagne-rita (left), Nonalcoholic Michelada (right)

Champagne-rita (left), Nonalcoholic Michelada (right)

Champagne-rita (left): Think of this signature cocktail as a Cadillac margarita with champagne. Can we say de-licious! The traditional margarita tartness mixed with the sweet bubbliness from the champagne complements this classic cocktail and lifts the overall mouthfeel. Who doesn’t enjoy brunch with a margarita twist!

Nonalcoholic Michelada (right): Even though this drink is made with a nonalcoholic Modelo beer, it is still traditional in every sense. Served in a chalice, rimmed with Chamoy and Tajin, then topped off with a tomato-based mix—made with fresh ingredients and delivered twice a week—makes for a perfectly balanced Miche. The mix is on the savory side and goes above and beyond Clamato. Since the mixture is not made in-house, it is somewhat of a secret but vegan-friendly for those wondering.

Batter Rebellion

Rebel Aviation (right), Mockingjay (left)

Rebel Aviation (right), Mockingjay (left)

Rebel Aviation (right): A take on the classic gin-based cocktail, the Rebel Aviation will catch anyone’s attention because of the vibrant pink hue and the stemmed glass it is served in. This signature cocktail’s herbaceous, pine-forward profile gives notes of green Chartreuse but surprisingly has none in it! If you are a fan of gin cocktails, this is one to try.

Go Rogue: Their most popular signature cocktail, Go Rogue (see here) is a serrano-infused (house infused) tequila margarita variation. The pineapple gum (gomme) syrup plays an intricate part in balancing the cocktail. It is garnished with a charcoal salted rim, a pineapple leaf and spear, and to top it off a pirate flag. We can’t go on without mentioning the Caribbean blue color, talk about a vacation in a glass. You can spot this cocktail from across the street.

Disclaimer: This one did not have a kick, however the next one just might. Serrano peppers can vary in heat depending on their size and the time of year they are harvested.

Mockingjay (left): This orange, lemon and cucumber based mocktail is quite refreshing. It is worth coming back for, even without the alcohol!

Copehouse Bar & Bistro

Gin Solstice (picture 1): This floral, gin-based signature cocktail will have you mesmerized. The floated layer of butterfly pea gin almost distracts you from the sphere ice cube with berries and rosemary frozen inside. This cocktail’s sweetness from the simple syrup and the acidity from the lime juice both complement the floral notes from the gin.

Dragon Sol (picture 2): This dragon fruit juice-based mocktail is like Vitamin Water dressed WAY up. The dragon fruit tincture is sous vide in-house, a water-controlled cooking method. The overall presentation reminds me of a Pimm’s Cup with its different layers of fruit, cucumber ribbons, and a mint garnish. You definitely won’t feel left out ordering this drink!

Pro Tip: We suggest eating the dehydrated pineapple wedge in the Dragon Sol mocktail, it’s like a tropical chip!

Redlands Oyster Cult (ROC)

Calypso

Calypso

Calypso: This signature cocktail, along with the others on their menu, was developed with the intention to pair with specific menu items. So be sure to ask your server or bartender which pairings they suggest. The Calypso’s velvet mouthfeel from the pineapple juice and the cucumber notes balanced nicely with the tequila. Served in a Nik and Nora glass – this delicate but flavorful cocktail makes tequila savants and non-tequila lovers come back for more!

Mocktail: ROC prefers that customers approach their bartenders or servers with an open mind – let them create something special for you. We tried one of Jon’s variations of a mocktail, and it did not disappoint. This drink, we called a “kitchen sink” mocktail because of his approach to touching multiple bottles when making this. It had so many layers, the spiced flavor profile with the right amount of sweetness reminded us of a virgin Zombie tiki cocktail.

Don Orange Tacos

Sandia Fresca (picture 1): If you have ever tried a Mexican watermelon lollipop, then you know exactly what this cocktail tastes like. This signature, watermelon-infused tequila, cocktail is similar to a margarita. The Sandia Fresca is a well-balanced, vibrant, refreshing cocktail and the Tajin rim pulls the whole cocktail together.

Smokey Blood Orange (picture 2): This is another one of their popular margarita variations, but instead of tequila, they use mezcal. The blood orange, lemon, and their house rosemary agave complement each other nicely, while the smoky flavor profile from the mezcal gives the cocktail its depth. That’s not all you get when you order this drink! You’ll just have to order one to find out (check it out). Mezcal lovers won’t be disappointed!

Disclaimer: They rotate their mezcal, so you might have to check with your bartender or server; some mezcals have a smokier or peated profile because of how the agave is cooked.

Paloma Mocktail: This mocktail plays it cool by following the traditional flavor profile of the classic Paloma by highlighting the grapefruit. They use nonalcoholic bitters to enhance the flavor and top it off with Topo Chico.

Caprice Cafe

Pomegranate Cosmo

Pomegranate Cosmo

Pomegranate Cosmo: This signature cocktail is a twist on the classic Cosmo. Instead of cranberry juice, they use pomegranate juice. This cocktail is served in a Nick and Nora glass, turning a mainstream cocktail into this elevated and quite pleasant experience for your tastebuds.

Mocktail: Caprice does not have a house mocktail, but they can definitely whip up a delightful nonalcoholic option. For us, they made a cucumber and orange spritzer. It was refreshing and bright. Encompassed the feeling of summer.

Rok N Fondue

Citrus Avenue (right), Strawberry Mojito Mocktail (left)

Citrus Avenue (right), Strawberry Mojito Mocktail (left)

Citrus Avenue (right): This easy-drinking cocktail is full of all the things we love about citrus! The grapefruit vodka brings in a bitterness that pairs well with the bight sweetness of the fresh orange juice. Their use of strawberry rounds out the flavors. The sugar rim and glass give a tropical feel for a quick island adventure without leaving Redlands.

Strawberry Mojito Mocktail (left): You don't miss the alcohol one bit in this mocktail. The mint is muddled just so, giving each sip a hint of mint. The brightness from the strawberries balances the acidy from the lime juice nicely. You can sub out any fruit you’d like, or ask if your bartender has a seasonal suggestion.

Darby’s American Cantina

Mambacita Mango Margarita (left), Blackberry Bourbon Smash (right)

Mambacita Mango Margarita (left), Blackberry Bourbon Smash (right)

Mambacita Mango Margarita (left): This signature cocktail is a mango margarita inspired cocktail. You can have it on the rocks or blended and rimmed with Tajin. The mango gives the margarita a nice thick mouthfeel and is a popular drink amongst patrons.

Blackberry Bourbon Smash (right): This cocktail takes a twist on a whiskey smash, a relative to the Mint Julep. Making this signature cocktail seem sweet and straightforward, but it packs a punch, fans of Maker’s Mark will be pleased; the blackberries round out the cocktail by giving it that sweet and tangy flavor we all enjoy.

The Royal Falconer

Mango Habanero Mule (left), Blueberry Margarita Mocktail (right)

Mango Habanero Mule (left), Blueberry Margarita Mocktail (right)

Mango Habanero Mule (left): This signature cocktail is a twist on the classic Moscow Mule, but instead of vodka they use a mango habanero whiskey. The habanero spice builds slowly but does not overpower your palate. This cocktail is served in a copper mug with a lime wedge and mint: an all-time favorite, perfect for the summer.

Blueberry Margarita Mocktail (right): This is the mocktail you picture yourself sipping on while lounging by a pool. It has the citrus kick we all love about a margarita and sweetness of a fresh blueberries. It was refreshing and overall, a tasty nonalcoholic offering.

Aroi Mak Mak

Sorry, Sorry, Sorry (picture 1): This little bowl of fun is one of their popular signature cocktails; it is the perfect size for one person and is meant to be drunk with both hands like if you were to sip miso soup. The banana leaf, dehydrated dragon fruit wheel, and the butterfly pea and coconut jelly square deliver a captivating presentation. This cocktail hits you with a variety of complementary flavors from the mezcal—subtle and sweet, not heavily peated—to the dryness of the resiling, to the sweetness from the pineapple, Suze, and bergamot, making this cocktail sparkling, bright and well-balanced. It is very approachable for people who are hesitant about mezcal.

Monk Juice: This seasonal mocktail is a creative combination of flavors you would not ordinarily see on a menu. The black sesame seed pineapple juice and mango puree jump off your palate, highlighting the li hiung mui and salted plums, giving the mocktail a sweet, salty, tangy flavor profile. It's bubbly, delicious, and hopefully still available the next time I am downtown.

Tom Kha Tonic (picture 2): Have you had a good G&T lately? Well, we highly recommend trying this Tom Kha-inspired signature cocktail. The coconut oil-infused vodka with kaffir leaf-infused gin, lemongrass extract, and yuzu tonic transforms a traditional Thai dish into an incredible modern cocktail. I asked Bryan where he got the inspiration for this one, and he mentioned that in Thailand, they don’t have classic cocktails, so for Aroi, all of their cocktails are inspired by their culture and cuisine. Big fan of this one!

Final Stop

La Volata Pizzeria

I Want to See You (left), Mint Lime Pie mocktail (right)

I Want to See You (left), Mint Lime Pie mocktail (right)

I Want to See You (left): It is always lovely to see a blood-orange cocktail on the menu, but what makes this seasonal signature even better is the black tea-simple syrup! This vodka-based cocktail packs a big citrusy spiced profile upfront and follows with a sweet and honey finish from the black tea. The dehydrated blood orange and the vibrant color from the juice will grab anyone’s attention. Make sure to try this signature cocktail before it’s gone!

Mint Lime Pie mocktail (right): This little slice of heaven in a glass coats your palate nicely. Off the bat, you get this light oregano tincture aroma with a hint of mint. Its creamy texture from the oat milk rounds out the acidity from the lime juice that complements the mint-simple syrup making this a delicately balanced mocktail. They use Seedlip – a nonalcoholic spirit that has a complex herbal base. The bartenders created this mocktail with the intention for everyone to enjoy, including vegans!

Disclaimer: This signature cocktail is seasonal, so be sure to ask your bartender or server what they have to offer. Some cocktails are harder to replicate, especially when ingredients like blood oranges are only available from December to early April. The black tea was locally sourced from Summit Tea in Redlands.

Grab a bar buddy and check out these drinks for yourself! And, be sure to tag About Redlands in your social media posts. We can't wait to see!

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Who is our cocktail expert?

Chloe has almost 15 years of experience working in the Hospitality Industry. 10 of those were spent honing in her craft as a bartender and developing her passion for everything Food & Bev. She is just shy of graduating with her degree in Mass Communication and plans to pursue Hospitality Law the following year. In the meantime, she is taking up PR positions to strengthen her foundation and promote everything that is awesome about Food & Bev.