Costa Mesa: Craft Cocktails Including the Pickleback Sour at Pie Society
The term “speakeasy” gets tossed around these days and some misuse the term. However, Pie Society is a true speakeasy. Hidden behind Pitfire Pizza, the Costa Mesa bar is bringing craft cocktails to Orange County denizens. Located on a busy street, you might confuse the bar with a typical beer and shots place but delve a little deeper and you’ll find bartenders who want to make sure you have the best drink ever. And it doesn’t hurt they have creative bar food either.
Steve Garcia runs the bar at Pie Society. He told me he dreamed of making a Pickleback Sour twice before attempting to do so. A “traditional” pickleback is a shot of whiskey (most go with Jameson) and a shot of pickle juice. For his sour, Steve uses Jameson, Strega, simple syrup, Pie Society’s house pickles juice, lemon, egg white and both celery and Jamaican bitters. The celery bitters go in with rest of the ingredients while the Jamaican bitters are added last. The result? Delicious.
We weren’t initially going to get food but couldn’t help ourselves when we saw tater tots, kimchi deviled eggs and then Steve said some pretty magical words, “pastrami peanuts.” The peanuts are flavored with pastrami seasonings and smoked sea salt. The house pickles are three types; bread and butter, sriracha and dill. They’re pretty awesome and I later joked the garnish on the Pickleback Sour should be an actual pickle. We also had olives to complete the trio.
As mentioned, the tater tots attracted our eye initially. Served with chorizo fondue, it’s a rich snack.
Most recently from the restaurant Broadway in Laguna Beach, Steve helped open Pie Society and has consulted on the bar program for the West Hollywood location of Pitfire Pizza. If you can’t make it down to Costa Mesa, check out the cocktails and food at Pitfire in WeHo.
When I walked up to the bar, I told Steve I was in the mood for a Red Hook. He made me his Do The Right Thing named after the Spike Lee movie. Director Spike Lee grew up in Red Hook, Brooklyn hence the name. Steve infused Templeton rye with dried sour cherries that he cold-smoked with oak. This whiskey was then left in a barrel for 10 weeks. Steve isn’t one to do barrel-aged cocktails but he liked enhancing the rye just a bit. And I enjoyed the Do the Right Thing.
I had slightly higher hopes for the kimchi deviled eggs. The yolks needed to be a little bit creamier and I know kimchi is funky but these were very sour. I’ll just have another Pickleback Sour if I want more tartness in my life.
My friend tried one of the drinks on the menu, the Art of the Kill. He’s been on a Negroni kick lately and I could see why he would pick this drink of gin, Gran Classico and one of my favorite amari, Cynar. It’s a nicely bitter drink that makes a wonderful digestive after our bar snacks.
Art of the Kill– Death’s Door gin, Gran Classico, Cynar
I haven’t been to the Pitfire location in West Hollywood but I hope they have the similar cute decor like Pie Society. The back bar is an old pie oven rack from Marie Calendar’s. It’s huge and there are a lot of great spirits.
Next time I’ll explore the menu a bit more but it’s hard not to get personalized drinks from the Pie Society crew.(949) 313-6335
© The Minty 2013