With classical pianist Steve Siu tickling the keys on Montage’s open-air Lobby Lounge grand piano, I check my Twitter feed as a small sparrow darts past my head, lands on the back of a chair, and tweets three times. So meta!
I order A Rose By Any Name, a bright and fruity vodka-raspberry-lemon cocktail, admire its dense meringue-like head, and sniff the fresh rose garnish. Montage Laguna has the uncanny ability to mesmerize my sensorium so deeply, I ponder the depth of intention sipping a Romeo & Juliet-style drink name on a balcony; a dude with a foofoo drink, by any other name would smell as sweet. I wish my Juliet were here to share a sip.
The Lobby Lounge has other notable cocktails, most of which don’t require a quick check of your bank balance, that is until I saw Cinque Stelle, a thousand-dollar cocktail containing The Balvenie 40-year Single Malt Scotch Whisky (#16 on the list of 50 of the world’s most expensive whiskeys), Disaronno Riserva, and a hand-chipped clear hunk of ice. With the purchase of each Cinque Stelle cocktail, Montage Laguna Beach will donate $500 to one of five selected charities. Alas, my editor probably wouldn’t cover such an expense, so I order a prop to photograph.
Montage has 17 new summer cocktails across their three bars, two of which are in the main building (Loft and Lobby Lounge) and one a bit closer to sea called Studio. Regaining my virility, I order a Five O’Clock Somewhere, which is basically a whiskey sour beer cocktail, complete with Stone IPA syrup, Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard Ale, Buffalo Trace Bourbon…complete with a fresh and sticky cascade hop nugget as garnish. The drink brings me back to my first Arrogant Bastard, when a big pop of piney bitterness, booze, and hints of fruit and toffee filled the nose. Just as it says on a can of Arrogant Bastard, I look around at the posh seaside lounge and think, “I’m not worthy.”
Overall, you can’t beat the sights, the smells, and the well-thought-out bar program at Montage. “Our cocktail program is a labor of love,” says beverage manager Troy Smith. “Each creation begins as an inspiration from a classic, and then our bartenders add their own spin while highlighting seasonal ingredients and flavors. We taste each version as a group, make minor changes, and finalize the drink. Next, we brainstorm its name. We want our cocktails to be evocative, yet also fun and playful.”
The cocktails are truly a symphony for the senses.
Montage Laguna Beach is at 30801 Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. I highly suggest uber/lyfting in as the valet is the cost of a cocktail after validation. // montagehotels.com/lagunabeach