Home » Restaurant Review » Scott’s Restaurant mixes up their cocktail menu with Mixologist James Wood
Scott’s Restaurant mixes up their cocktail menu with Mixologist James Wood

Scott’s Restaurant mixes up their cocktail menu with Mixologist James Wood

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. 

Scott's Seafood James Wood

James Wood, joins Scott’s restaurant from Hopscotch  Photo Right: Courtesy of Alan De Herrera

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. 

Natural flavors and aromas from fruits and botanicals are the heart of Jame's cocktails

Natural flavors and aromas from fruits and botanical are the heart of Jame’s cocktails

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:

Scott's Seafood James Wood Mixologist

James Wood making magic happen


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. 


The Hops cocktail made with Hophead, a vodka distilled from hops, orange, lemon and honey. An Adult version of Hi-C


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. 

Scott's Seafood Cocktails 92

The Barbain is a complex rum cocktail that leaves you wanting another.


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.

Scott's Seafood Cocktails 75

The Jalisco is what happened if your teenage buddy grew up, went to college and opened up a music label.  Complex, Smooth, yet rowdy.


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.

Scott's Seafood Cocktails 59

The “Rosemary” is like a switch breeze kicked up in a forest garden, filling your nostrils with herbs and flora


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.

Scott's Seafood Cocktails 17

I can best describe the “Blossom” cocktail as an approachable version of the Old Fashion

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.

Scott's Seafood Beef Slider

Scott’s Restaurant slider is made with finely chopped beef.

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.

Scott's Seafood Cocktails

The “Shake” cocktails is like a an upscale version of the mudslide that I would serve to the Queen of England.

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

Scott's Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon


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About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.


  1. That beef slider looks really good. Might even consider one of the cocktails!

  2. Well of course you were giddy at the end of the night.. those drinks look like they pack a punch! i would have went the Jalisco, i like tequila!

  3. Looks like a fun place to be when in the area…I will definitely share with my familynd friends.

  4. Great looking food and cocktails! Must be fun!

  5. Haha.. I need to try the panty dropper! Sounds yummy..

  6. I wish I lived closer. Those drinks look amazing. Every time I try to make a good drink I somehow manage to mess it up and it tastes too sweet! Lol


  7. both food and drinks sounds amazing will have to try when i’m in the area.

  8. Wow looks like a great place to dine! The calamari looks delish!

  9. What a great place to get to do a review about. I bet you were giddy. Who could turn down several of those drinks. I would def go for the Barbain!!

  10. Looks amazing! I would love to try the vodka cocktail.

  11. You write amazing reviews and this really makes me miss living in that area. I will share this with my Cali friends and family for them to enjoy though!

  12. Ummm actually James didn’t win “best mixologist” … Hopscotch won “best cocktail” and Dave Castillo from 320 Main won “best mixologist” this year at the Golden Foodie Awards. Please do your homework and give credit where credit is due! Misleading and misadvertising blog, please correct yourself.

    • John,
      Thank you for the correction on the winner of the Golden Foodie Award for best mixologist. It was wrong on this point. As you noted, Hopscotch won the award for Best Cocktail, during James Wood’s residency. Although the Best Mixologist was Dave Castillo from 320 Main. Proper credit should be given to the winner. I do appreciate your correction and I own up to my mistake. I appreciate your feedback and candor, if you want to chat more please email me directly at [email protected].

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