James Wood leaves Hopscotch to mix things up a Scott’s Restaurant and Bar
For many people my age, Scott’s Restaurant is the place you see while driving to South Coast Plaza, but never visited. The restaurant that has come to be associated with pre-theater meals and Valentine’s Day. The owners of Scott’s restaurant are trying to mix things is up by hiring one of Orange County’s best Mixologists, James Wood. He is known for making hip craft cocktails, during his residency at Hopscotch they won the Golden Foodie Award for best Cocktail.
James plans on bringing the same youthful creative energy to Scott’s, with a focus on high-quality farm fresh ingredients to the cocktails at Scott’s Restaurant and Bar. Although “farm to cocktail” is no longer vanguard as it was a year ago, John is a master of this style and is continuing to innovate. His cocktails are known for developing unique flavors profiles by capitalizing on the natural flavors and aromatics of fresh fruit and botanicals. James is among a handful of mixologists who are putting Orange County on the craft cocktail map.
I recently attended a reception to taste James Wood’s cocktails at his new residency at Scott’s Restaurant and I was giddy by the end of the evening. I watched as James zested, peeled, trimmed, and muddle his way through some pretty impressive cocktails. Below is a rundown:
Hops – This cocktail is made with Hopshead vodka, aperol, orange, lemon, honey – I loved that this cocktail is made with hops distilled vodka, giving a strong aromatic note. With the addition of the orange, lemon and honey, the Hops reminded me of an grown-up version of the orange drink my mom packed in my lunch. I could drink this one all night.
The Hops cocktail was paired with crab cake, organic heirloom carrots and a Serrano aioli. One of the better crab cakes I have tasted.
Barbain – Made with Mount Gay black barrel rum, Amoro Nomino, hibiscus elixir, lime, mint. This cocktail was a pleasant blend of sweet and slight bitter notes. Mount Gay Black Barrel rum tastes like a hybrid of rum and bourbon giving the flavor a hint of rye. The hibiscus and citrus create an even flow on the palate and round out the Mount Gay rum. A delicious cocktail with many flavors layers. Much better than that Hurricane you ordered in college.
Jalisco – This cocktail tasted like an up-spin on the margarita. The Jalisco is made with Agave Underground tequila, Cointreau Noir, Kubler absinthe, lime, rhubarb bitters. This cocktail had so many flavor layers that I kept sipping trying to figure out what I was tasting. Before I I knew it, I was sucking on ice. When you first sip you feel like a very nice margarita, although as it hits the back of your palate you tastes the anise flavor of the absinthe.
Rosemary – This cocktail is made with Junipero dry gin, St. Germain, bruised rosemary – The flavors of rosemary comes through herbal dry gin and floral sweetness of the St. Germain.
This cocktail was pared with their Provencal style calamari. The calamari is coated with rice flour, flash fried and leathered in a wine and butter saute.
Blossom – This cocktail is made with Templeton rye, St. Germain, noilly prat, whiskey barrel bitters. This cocktail reminded me of an approachable version of an old fashion or perhaps a Manhattan. Easy to drink the flavors of rye seamlessly blended into the floral aromatics of the Noily Prat and St. Germain. The whiskey barrels bitters gave that old familiar old fashion flavor. This is a great entry level cocktail for anyone wanting to enjoy a dark liquor cocktail without getting smacked in the face by the flavor of a Manhattan.
I paired the Blossom with their Beef Slider made with finely chopped beef (not ground), house made pizza dough bun, havarti cheese, and hand cut french fries. This is a great slider that was cooked perfectly pink throughout and had the right ratio of bun to meat. The protein went well with the umph of the blossom.
Shake –This cocktail is made with rye whiskey, cherry heering, mild vanilla, chocolate bitters, rose water – I called this drink the “panty dropper.” It tasted like a mudslide shake that I would serve to the Queen of England. It is sophisticated and sweet, yet it has the bite of a pit bull. This cocktail has many wonderful flavors that were tied together by the vanilla and chocolate bitters. If you see me sipping this cocktail at the bar buy me another, but don’t take advantage of me.
My Final Thoughts
Scott’s Restaurant and Bar is obviously trying to bring in the younger crowd and making the restaurant approachable for everyday meals via their small plates bar menu. For Mixologist James Wood, Scott’s Restaurant provides an upscale stage where his cocktails will meet a receptive crowd. If Scott’s continues to update their approach, I predict Scott’s will turn into a destination restaurant. The cocktails are a solid first step.
Scott’s Restaurant and Bar
3300 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
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