The booziest place on earth

Every year for our anniversary, my husband and I spend a few days enjoying the rides, the food, and the people-watching at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, CA. Oh, and the booze.  While Disneyland is understandably dry, Disney California Adventure and two of the resort hotels have great options for drinks if you need a break from the Disney experience.  This is the first trip I’ve made a point to visit all four of my favorite cocktail bars, and it was worth the effort.

Napa Rose: high-end restaurant in the Grand Californian Hotel.  You can try for a reservation months in advance, or just stroll into the lounge and take a seat at the bar.  They have both classic cocktails and new ideas, and the bartenders are great at their jobs (both mixing drinks and providing hospitality).  Say hello to my friend Joe if you stop by.

Cove Bar: water-side outdoor bar in Disney California Adventure.  Although this used to be a nice hidden spot for 21+ guests, it has unfortunately become well known and you might have to endure a 30-40 minute wait for a seat (and endure a lot of toddlers and strollers).  However, I usually find it worth the wait to enjoy a Manhattan at the bar top while savoring a plate of the delicious lobster nachos.  Like all park atttractions, they’ve done a nice job with the 1920s boardwalk theming.

Carthay Lounge: located downstairs in the Carthay Circle Theater building, the lounge is a wonderful throwback to old Hollywood. You may have to wade through a lot of fun-in-the-sun park-goers, but again, the bar top is a great place to wile away and hour or so.  If you have extra dollars to spend and find yourself looking for a fancy dinner, the Carthay Circle restaurant upstairs is also a nice option (reservations definitely recommended).

Trader Sam’s: reminiscent of the Jungle Cruise and Enchanted Tiki Room with the same tiki and tongue-in-cheek vibe, Traer Sam’s is another well-known bar that is worth the wait.  Located at the Disneyland Hotel, you’ll likely find yourself with plenty of company while you stalk an elusive seat in the small, dark bar, but once you’re there you get to watch all the best efforts of the Disney “imagineering” attitude come to fruition.  This place turned the tiki dial up to 11 with a awesome decor, the expected long list of rum drinks, and bartenders who enjoy having fun while they work.  

So whether you’re visiting Disney sans children or just need a break from the sun, I definitely recommend checking out some of the cocktail options on the park property.

Drinking at Disney

Pretty in pink

I’m working my way around the Capitol here in Madison, and tonight I’m escaping from the cold rain at Graft.  I’m having a lovely pink cocktail called Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, and despite the Barbie color this is definitely a modern drink. It’s gin, absinthe, bitters, and pomplemousse, all in a great balance that still lets the absinthe shine without being too overbearing. It’s a bit of spring in a glass.  

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, Graft, Madison, WI

Home away from home

Although it’s a bummer to be away from home for training, at least I get to do recon on new cocktail spots. Merchant in Madison, WI, certainly feels like my kind of special place. They have the de la Louisiane on their regular cocktail menu (!!!!).  If you haven’t tried this drink, you’re missing out on a lovely classic. I use this to convert friends to classic cocktails. 

de la Louisiane, Merchant, Madison, WI