Bites: Surprising Cinnamon Rolls, and Black Magic in a Glass

Photo credit: Benjamin Epstein

Warm Welcome
Upscale seafooder Water Grill is the county’s finest destination for $3 oysters, each of which goes in a single slurp. But there’s an item there we crave that has nothing to do with seafood, works as an ideal side or finish to any weekend brunch, and at $4 might be the best value near South Coast Plaza: warm cinnamon rolls. A matching pair of fresh-baked heavenlies, sumptuously glazed with cinnamon sugar, arrives in a cast-iron skillet. The dish is enough for two and worth the trip all on its own. 3300 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 949-208-7060

Photo credit: Benjamin Epstein

Black Magic
Ben Carpenter, beverage director at the Balboa Bay Resort’s A&O Kitchen + Bar, presents California Distilled, eight concoctions with ingredients sourced solely from California distillers, artisans, and farms. All are top-tier, but the high-octane, Blackbeard-inspired Black Candy makes an impression like indelible ink. It uses 128 proof Lost Spirits Navy Style rum, St. George pear brandy, St. George spiced-pear liqueur, Bitter Queens Chinese 5 Spice bitters, and an absinthe rinse. A powdered form of activated charcoal gives it an onyx hue. 1221 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, 949-630-4145

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