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Food and Beverage News

Martell Blue Swift VSOP cognac

Behind the scenes with Kevin Morales, GM  of Oak Grill & Aqua Lounge at the Island Hotel

When Aqua Lounge opened its doors two years ago with its 360-degree bar and rotating DJ program, the indoor-outdoor venue had big plans to enliven the Orange County bar scene. Under the helm of Kevin Morales, the Island Hotel’s interactive mixology program morphed to include several liquor-focused events. The latest addition: Whiskey Wednesdays will bring craft bourbons from Kentucky, ryes from Iowa and single malts from Scotland to Newport Beach. We chatted with Morales, who hand-picks the whiskeys that rotate every week to see what he’s drinking this month.       

Coast: Are you the lucky guy who selects all the whiskeys?
KM: Our mixology team and I hand-pick each featured whiskey for the week – based on taste, uniqueness, our interest in the producer, production methods and their story.

Coast: Traditionally whiskey is deemed a man’s spirit. How will you make it more palatable for the ladies?
KM: Our new fall whiskey list is very fruit-forward, which seems to be what many of our female guests prefer. By offering tasting flights from lightest to darkest for trial sipping and by creating cocktails that are softer and a little sweeter, we think more women will be won over to whiskey and its culture. Our current whiskey cocktail on the menu is Bite the Bulleit made with Bulleit Rye whiskey, Domaine de Canton, fresh lemon, soda water, Angostura bitters and simple syrup.

Coast: What whiskeys are you most excited to feature?
KM: Templeton Rye, my personal favorite, made in Iowa, and Blanton’s bourbon, crafted in Kentucky – these two are very flavorful, and they are the basis for great cocktails that pair well with foods.
We like to focus on having our bartenders “educate” on the whiskey of the night to each guest as they enjoy the cocktail to create a more intimate, customized personal experience. That’s what we’re all about.  :: aqualoungenb.com

3 Ways to Celebrate Seafood Month
• Order Mastro’s splurge-worthy Seafood Tower: Freshly shucked oysters, Alaska king crab legs, a whole split lobster, Dungeness crab and a giant shrimp cocktail accompanied with an array of delicious dipping sauces and freshly shaved horseradish root. The seafood showstopper is presented with a dramatic icy cloud emanating from the
tower’s base.
Mastro’s Steakhouse, 633 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, 714.546.7405 :: mastrosrestaurants.com
• Chow down on “Chowder for a Cause” at Fly-N-Fish Oyster Bar.
To kick off national seafood month, executive chef Julio Hawkins with his partners Rick and Steve Loomis will donate the proceeds from each bowl to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
2304 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach, 949.673.8400 :: flynfishoysterbar.com
• Fresh catch. Newport Beach’s Dory Fleet Fish Market offers the best of the sea. This historical landmark opened in 1891 as a way for local fisherman to sell their fish straight to the public on the beach. Seasonality is key. Besides near-shore fish, look out for stone and spider crabs, spiny lobsters and live sea urchins.
2111 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach, 949.632.5939 :: doryfleet.com

Sweet Lady
This year Wonder Woman turns 75. In her honor, Dylan’s Candy Bar launched a limited-edition collection of super heroine-inspired confections such as a Berry Powerful dark chocolate bar, a petite set of superhero sugar cookies and a stemless wine glass filled with pineapple-flavored gummy bears. :: dylanscandybar.com

Swift Spirit
In 1783, just three years before our forefathers penned the Constitution, Martell began shipping its spirits to the U.S. This year, the eau de vie maker celebrates its ties to America by introducing its latest creation: Martell Blue Swift VSOP cognac finished in Kentucky bourbon casks. With hints of caramelized pears, notes of vanilla and a hint of coconut, the copper-colored spirit blends well with absinthe for a spicy Sazerac or sips smooth in a French Old Fashioned. :: martell.com 

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