OCWeekly — March 26, 2015
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Drink Of The Week
Anne Marie Panoringan

Vesper at Pizzeria Ortica

When it’s time to meet for a drink, you probably drive somewhere next to the workplace. It’s familiar, right? But you’re kind of missing out. We’re not saying you need to drive two cities over for happy hour. Just try a few blocks over. Or, in the case of Pizzeria Ortica, drive toward Costa Mesa.

The bar is at the far end of a long countertop that begins in the kitchen and meanders the length of the restaurant. The open feel makes for a relaxed vibe that’s often buzzing the hour before show time. Once the curtain rises, there’s room to pull up a chair and engage in some serious drinking. If you find yourself here, try a Vesper.

THE DRINK

A grappa-based cocktail isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when ordering. But again, push those boundaries a little (that’s the point of the drink). A barrel-aged blend of Candolini Classica and Candolini Ruta, this alone is still pretty harsh on the throat. The awesomely named Aristotle Altstaetter and his boss, head bartender Joel Caruso, factor in Contratto Vermouth Bianco and Lillet vino, plus a bar spoon of small-batch tonic. Altstaetter gives it a shake, shake, shake over ice, finishing the drink with a peel of lemon. The result: an unexpected balance. Vesper is smooth as silk.

The beverage is named after a special character from a notorious classic—Ian Fleming’s Bond tale Casino Royale. Vesper Lynd is a strong presence, before the “shaken, not stirred” era. Every drop should be savored .

PIZZERIA ORTICA

650 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 445-4900; www.pizzeriaortica.com. Follow Pizzeria Ortica on Instagram: @pizzeria_ortica.
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