Creative cocktails are on the menu at so many of Pasadena’s watering holes and eateries. With more than 650 restaurants, the city has some serious culinary range and bar offerings have become just as important as the food. Mixology is an art, after all. Wondering where to go for a perfectly mixed drink and what to order when you belly up to that bar? We can get your cocktail party started with this line-up of 10 top shelf drinks—perfectly shaken, stirred and served in quintessential Pasadena settings.
The Raymond Bar 1886 (1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave.) is nirvana for serious cocktail aficionados, and your first visit calls for something theatrical. Order the “Smoking Jacket,” a fragrant concoction made with Redbreast Irish whiskey, tobacco bitters, brown sugar and orange vanilla ash. For the grand finale, the mixologists literally add smoke to the glass with a burning hickory wood chip—you’ll want to have your Boomerang app open to capture the effect. It’s a full sensory experience and downright delicious. (Photo credit: Acuna Hansen.)
Magnolia House (427 S. Lake Ave.) is pure Pasadena in its historic, charming craftsman bungalow that had a former life as a pre-Prohibition liquor shop. Here you’re going to want to try the bright and tart “Roger That.” It’s a gin-based cocktail with lemon, honey apple shrub, maple ginger syrup and carrot juice served on the rocks. All that fresh goodness pretty much makes it a health drink!
The Langham Huntington, Pasadena (1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave.) is an utterly elegant place to sit and sip a while. You can’t go wrong with “The Huntington,” a clever riff on a margarita. It’s made with Casa Noble Langham reposado tequila, muddled tomato and basil and citrus—finished with black lava salt on the rim. It looks as good as it tastes. Savor it while sitting on the terrace overlooking the hotel’s lush, sprawling grounds, or tuck into one of the romantic nooks in The Tap Room’s lounge.
Parkway Grill (510 S. Arroyo Pkwy.) is a Pasadena institution for finer dining. The restaurant’s rich wooden bar dates back to the 1920s and was imported from Chicago when the restaurant opened in 1984. This is the kind of place where you can get an impeccably made martini. If you want to go for something more unique, try the “Café Negroni.” The house-made cocktail of gin, vermouth and Campari is cold dripped through crushed coffee beans and poured over an ice block.
Maestro Pasadena (110 E. Union St.) is known for its impressive selection of mezcal and tequila with more than 200 agave spirits to pick and pour from. You can get the best of the spirit worlds in their “Agave Old Fashioned.” It’s a blend of tequila, mezcal, spicy agave and bitters. Expect the perfect amount of smoke and spice and a drink that pairs very well with their modern Mexican cuisine. (Photo by Maestro Pasadena)
Alexander’s Steakhouse (111 N. Los Robles Ave.) will put you in an island state of mind with “Yellow Flowers In Her Hair.” The fruit-forward drink features Hamilton Jamaican rum, barrel-aged Sun Rum, pineapple, mango, falernum, coconut cream and tiki bitters. It’s vacation in a glass! But you’ll probably want to stick to one, so you don’t ruin your appetite for dinner at the excellent elevated steakhouse.
The Arbour’s (527 S. Lake Ave.) airy bar space is an inviting setting to enjoy an adult beverage or two—especially during happy hour with great deals on oysters, cheese and other snacks. Keep it classic with their take on an “Aviation” featuring Broker’s gin, Crème de Yvette, Luxardo maraschino liqueur and lemon juice. The attractive purple hue will surely mesmerize you.
White Horse Lounge (41 S. De Lacey Ave.) takes inspiration from New Orleans in all its dark, sexy glory. The award-winning cocktail joint specializes in whiskeys. Go for their namesake, “The White Horse,” with Elijah Craig 12-year aged bourbon, maple syrup, vanilla bitters and bacon. And fill your belly with tasty Southern fare like catfish, gumbo and shrimp and grits.
La Grande Orange Café’s (260 S. Raymond Ave.) “The Misfit” is a bright delightful twist on a traditional gimlet. Made with house-infused grapefruit vodka, kaffir lime cordial and basil, this will perk your palate right up for a meal at the produce-driven restaurant set in the 1934 Del Mar Station.
Bone Kettle (67 N. Raymond Ave.) doesn’t have a liquor license but they get very creative with soju, sake and wine-based cocktails. Order the highly photogenic “Dragonfruit Lychee Lemonade” spiked with soju to kick off your Indonesian feast. (Photo by Anthony Lu.)