In the vein of high-profile, celebrity portmanteaus — TomKat, Branjelina, and Bennifer — the illustrious union of craft beer and whiskey in Orange County has been playfully christened HopScotch. Upon entering, an outline of the childhood pastime beckons you into the gentlemanly, urban hunting lodge. Trophy heads of hoofed ones hang stately from the rafters, as does a vintage Penny-farthing bicycle that is echoed in their logo. A rotating chorus line of 25 handles flaunts a formidable range of brews — Sculpin, Ruination and Knuckle Sandwich, amongst others — accompanied by 50 bottled brethren. The kilt-plaid bar back beams with premium single malts, bourbons, ryes and, of course, scotch (and on occasion, moonshine). It boasts the most impressive variety in this county at over 100, with a special focus on small batch whiskies from such distilleries as Copper Fox, Four Roses, Corsair and Balcones.

Albeit reminiscent of the Los Angeles whiskey bar Seven Grand, given its historic foundation and tight-knit community of regulars, HopScotch will forever maintain its Fullerton heart. Housed in what was originally the Pacific Electric Railway Station from 1918, the vaulted, exposed trusses and rustic wood-form cement walls in the interior emulate the former depot’s original architecture. At its soul, the tavern exalts a bygone era wherein the luxury of respite is relished and sipped rather than gulped and swigged. Bolstering a cultural reform to live life fully, but at a slower pace, HopScotch advocates those who appreciate the many beneficial nuances of the Slow Movement.

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Starting with the vittles, Executive Chef Kent Pawlowski carves out a carnivore’s paradise with his generous cuts of oink, moo and cluck. Luxuriating in beer- or bourbon-braise baths, their ensuing low and long method of cooking yields fork tender results and deep, rich flavors through and through. Appetizers with descriptives like huevos diablos, cracklin’ rosemary and fried clams will certainly pique your flavor taste buds. Gourmet Barrel Burgers mounded with mouth-watering accoutrements; lip-smacking barbecue racks of ribs; and locally sourced sausages — without the heresy of additives — fulfills all your protein cravings. Rounding out the menu are comfort sides of delectable Porkbelly ‘n’ Beans; cole slaw that rivals the Colonel’s; and a Mac ‘n’ Cheese that has a surprise kick to it. Naturally, all items emanating from the kitchen are made entirely from scratch using farm fresh, locally-sourced produce and ingredients.

Behind the wrap-around bar fitted with reclaimed oak whiskey staves, you’ll find Chief of Libations James Wood holding dominion over all things potable that elicit courage and/or euphoria. Aside from drawing sought-after draughts and pouring exceptional brown ones, master mixologist Wood and his apprentices will take you on a revelatory journey as they create exquisite cocktails culled from time-honored recipes. Those who were fortunate enough to have been invited to one or more of their invitational events have become fast friends with the subtle complexities of the Morning Glory, Kentucky Orange Blossom, 21st Century, Blood and Sand and the White Manhattan. In their infusions, mixers and garnishes, all juices are freshly-squeezed and simple syrups and sugars are proudly made on-site to the Brit’s fastidious specifications.

When the weather permits — and that is almost always in Southern California — revel in the company of cohorts and imbibe on the main, newly expanded back patio. A second one, is an exclusive area for those who seek the retreat of a more subdued ambience with a cigar from the humidor or perhaps a dram of whiskey. If you prefer to stay indoors, breakfast/lunch/supper can be taken in the sunken dining room where pub-height tables, booths and banquettes cozily accommodate any group configuration.

Although others may have rushed to hear their registers ringing straight away, proprietor Bryan Gonzales and his partners, the holy alliance of Roberts, adhere to a solid vision and are intent on staying the steady route to a quality product. Designed as an alternative to the other bars merely pounding customers with liquor to obliteration, HopScotch is quickly becoming a destination for clientele with a decidedly adventurous palate. In the near future, patrons will be able to partake in whiskey tastings, workshops on fashioning the perfect cocktail, and even boutique wine pairing dinners. But ultimately, the pay-off for everyone here is that their brand new establishment single-handedly shifts the landscape of Fullerton’s nightlife and its general reputation as a puerile, college drinking town. And to that we toast a resounding “Prost!”

HopScotch: A Welcome Game-Changer!

HopScotch Tavern
136 E. Commonwealth
714.871.2222
www.hopscotchtavern.com


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