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Season of Eggnog

Have some eggnog – with a twist – at one of these Orange County hotspots.

Lucca Café
Ed Olen

If there’s one indication that the holidays have officially arrived, it’s eggnog. The thick dairy drink with a reputation for merrymaking owes its start to the English aristocracy, which ingeniously elongated the life of spoil-prone eggs and milk with brandy, Madeira or sherry to create the ‘nog with a kick we all know and love today. Today’s additions include everything from whiskey to bourbon to wine, not to mention eggnog’s infiltration into ice cream, cupcakes, cookies, and more. Coast battled the harsh OC winter to bring you this year’s freshest twists on eggnog.

Haven Gastropub
THE STORY Haven Gastropub opened to rave reviews in 2009; since then, it has continued to impress with its innovation in the food and drink departments. Located in downtown Orange, the restaurant is known for its casual atmosphere and accessible gourmet fare, which is made using local and organic produce, sustainable seafood and humanely raised meat and poultry.
WHAT’S HOT After you’ve indulged in gastropub fare such as beef cheek poutine and Berkshire pork shank accompanied by some of the best microbrews around, keep the party going with housemade peppermint eggnog with Bulleit Bourbon topped with freshly whipped cream and cinnamon. The small-batch Kentucky bourbon may have found its ideal match. 190 S. Glassell St., Orange ::714.221.0680 :: havengastropub.com

Gelato Paradiso
THE STORY This gelato is as authentic as it gets in the OC. Made onsite daily, Gelato Paradiso uses ingredients imported from Italy, as well as traditional techniques and an official gelato chef to recreate the Mediterranean’s most popular frozen treat. Daily flavors include everything from wild cherry to toasted almond, and seasonal ingredients like pumpkin and coconut keep things lively.
WHAT’S HOT Italy’s ideas meet the heartier flavors of its northern European neighbor to make an eggnog gelato with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, available only in the month of December at Gelato Paradiso. Creamy and dense –  it’s a chilly twist on a body-warming favorite. Locations in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach :: gelatoparadiso.net

Lucca Café
THE STORY Minus the surfboards, the OC bears a striking resemblance to the Mediterranean, a sun-soaked place known for its laissez-faire attitude and commitment to the good life. That’s exactly the essence that Lucca Café, an Italian-inspired eatery in Irvine, captures, by focusing on using the season’s freshest ingredients to showcase everything from housemade pastas to imported charcuterie.
WHAT’S HOT Italy and the U.K. combine with Lucca Café’s holiday creation: virgin eggnog with Ben Rye Passito, a dessert wine from Sicilian producer Donnafugata. Made on the island of Pantelleria, the wine is intensely honeyed and fruity, and when combined with the warm, spicy notes of eggnog, the resulting flavor is one you won’t forget anytime soon. 6507 Quail Hill Pkwy., Irvine :: 949.725.1773 :: luccacafe.net

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