Around Halloween, I’m looking to get graveyard smashed- on the hunt for a place to drink that’s truly underground, like 6 feet under, where it’s dim, quiet, cool, and there are no televisions. In downtown Fullerton, one can make this happen, with class, in the underground Cellar Restaurant located in the historic 1920’s Villa Del Sol building. Being a thing since 1969, its storied past, romantic getaway feel, and solid bar program keeps this gem shiny and new.
During happy hour, the cushy bar is where other bartenders go before their shifts elsewhere. One sitting a few seats down orders a $5 happy hour old fashioned and is offered the spirit of his choice. “Rye,” he says, pushing his clear-frame glasses up his nose. “Got any spooky-Halloween drinks?” I ask with a doubting smirk. “Why yes! There’s two on the menu!”
Sure enough, I find myself nose-deep in a pumpkin old fashioned. “We make the pumpkin syrup in-house,” says the mustached bartender James. I tap my toes to the 1920’s big band music that is playing softly in the background, take a few sips, and check my phone…no service.
“Ever hear any ghost stories about the Cellar?” I ask curiously. “Oh totally,” says James. “One night after closing, our manager (at the time) saw a well-dressed man sitting at table 33 in the dark corner, well after everyone had gone home,” he says, slightly freaked out. “A few years later, a new host was opening the place and described the same guy in the corner of 33…well dressed, and totally not there after double checking.” My jaw dropped.
I take the last glug of the festive old fashioned, which now haunts my glass like a ghost. Spiced rum, clove, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice sit aromatically the on big chunky cube. A few minutes later, I hear knocking on the hand-carved bathroom door behind me, knowing full well it’s empty. Was it the drink? My active imagination? Either way, I hope it was real as I’m always down for a wicked ghost story and a great cocktail.
Check out the Cellar’s terrific monster-mashed cocktails while they last. The Jack-o-Lantern and Pumpkin Old Fashioned should ghost soon!