I recently attended a cocktail tasting at TAPS Fish House & Brewery to learn about its new beverage program launching this spring. Diners can look forward to a new direction for 2016, where craft cocktails will take center stage. Everything from muddled fruit, squeezed juices, and even specially crafted grenadine will be freshly created and the focus of the bar program.
As we walk through the doors, we are greeted with Pine-y The Elder, a cocktail of London Dry Gin, Lazzaroni Amaro, Zirbenz Stone Pine, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, IPA, Tall Glass, Pine Cone & Lemon Zest Garnish. I enjoy this cocktail which is refreshing and not too hoppy from the IPA.
We sit down at the table and eat a delicious crudo before the next cocktail is served. Beautiful yuzu flavors with crispy fried shallot rings complete this lovely appetizer.
When the next drink arrives at the table, we are all taken by the copper pineapple vessel it is served in. Aptly named Pineapple Under The Sea, it comprises Absolut Elyx Vodka, Corruba Coconut Rum, Giffard Orgeat Syrup, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Passionfruit, Lime Juice and Peychaud’s Bitters. It reminds me of a tropical pina colada, but with fresh flavors devoid of any of those artificial inclusions like the traditional pina colada usually has.
A crostini topped with goat cheese and beets is next before our next libation.
Lime In The Coconut is a production in itself. This frozen beverage is created tableside with the help of liquid nitrogen. Your server will make your drink with Corruba Coconut Rum, Selvarey Cocoa Rum, Velvet Falernum, Giffard Orgeat Syrup, Heavy Cream, Lime Juice, Pineapple and Nutmeg. When it is all done, the spiked frozen “dessert” is scooped into a coconut shell and served to you complete with a spoon. It is sinfully good and hard to say no to.
Ribeye Carpaccio is next. This appetizer for the table comprises paper thin slices of ribeye topped with a cornucopia of toppings including crispy capers, pickled red onions and Meyer lemon chimichurri.
My favorite drink of the afternoon turns out to be Champagne Papi, a concoction of Casa Noble Blanco Tequila, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Fresh Tarragon, Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, Celery Bitters and Sparkling Wine. Served in a copper Julep cup, it is garnished with tarragon and lime and a good combination of flavor profiles from all the ingredients.
The little skillet of Clams and Mussels Cazuela is so umami-filled I don’t want to leave a single drop of the broth behind. The sauce is made with Spanish chorizo, white wine, shallots, tomatoes, garlic butter in a Spanish-style rouille. Served with toasted slice French baguettes, perfect for sopping up all the liquid.
I love the name of the next cocktail. Bye Felicia uses George Dickel Rye as its base with Verdrenne Crème de Cassis, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Opal & Thai Basil, Bar Keep Fennel Bitters in a Bucket Glass with Crushed Ice and garnished with Opal & Thai Basil.
We finished with Shanghai Old Fashioned which has the same spirit as the previous drink — George Dickel Rye — but uses a unique smoked Chinese black tea syrup (Lapsang Souchong), Bar Keep Chinese Bitters, Angostura Bitters, Reagan’s Orange Bitters with different edible flowers as garnish.
The new TAPS Beverage Program will launch in April so watch out for this incredible new addition to an already fabulous restaurant.
TAPS Fish House & Brewery
13390 Jamboree Rd
Irvine, CA 92602