Setting foot into Macallans, it becomes instantly evident that it’s the type of establishment that warmly welcomes those of the female persuasion. Finally, a whiskey bar devoid of the ubiquitous festoon of trophy stag, moose, and/or jackalope; antler motifs; and other woodsman-y paraphernalia. Rather, this pub is — if I may quote the Irish Spring commercial — manly, yes, but I like it too.
Crushing hard on the designer’s landscape, custom everything had me swooning from:
The coveted blue and green Missoni carpet by Stark;
the dazzling Luna Bella artisan glass pendants dangling from hand-painted soffits;
and the spectacular bar backsplash of New Ravenna glass mosaic tiles.
Complementing Chef Roman Jimenez’s constantly expanding kitchen repertoire, new Bar Manager Paul Joseph Piane brings bravura and expertise to the spirits counter. His résumé includes HopScotch (Fullerton), The Cellar (Fullerton), Summit House (Fullerton), and Abbey Theater Irish Pub (Rome).
Amble over to a showcase of over 200 types of amber elixirs flanking the wall behind the bar, further underscoring what this place is about. But purists be damned: gin, rum, mezcal, and other potent potables are also finding their way into coupes, high balls, and snifters. When once their cocktail list was limited to but a few standards, Paul shakes and stirs up hand-crafted seasonals that are uber (and lyft) creative and are a much needed enhancement to Macallans’ bar program.
Arriving to Macallans, we’re greeted with a welcome drink to set the tone for the afternoon’s seasonal tasting. It’s Paul’s take on a French 75, called Miss June ’75. I venture to guess that it’s named after a calendar girl pin-up, but sadly, I am shut down. The name is taken from a song by Brian Jonestown Massacre which starts off with the line “She shines like the sun.” I smile, appreciating the thematic aspect for his summer cocktail menu. Miss June ’75 is bright, bubbly, and refreshing, with a dash of Chareau Aloe liqueur. Yes, aloe like aloe vera — that plant sap you use as a salve on your beach bum sunburns. Brilliant.
Proceeding on to our tasting menu, it reads like variations of Summer Lovin’.
The wedged Ham & Cheese is a handy snack for an impromptu picnic. Although it appears that the ratio of the voluminous bread slices to the scant fillings are way off, looks can be deceiving. The 3-cheese and prosciutto core is so savory that the soft, billowy slabs are perfect for tempering its intensity. The addition of the peppery arugula bramble, drizzled with addictive bourbon vinaigrette, creates a wondrous balance. Who woulda thunk something seemingly so simple could be so flavor laden.
Gallagher’s Mallet cocktail– dubbed after the comedian whose signature shtick included sledge hammering a watermelon to a pulp — is also a portable (and covert) option for an afternoon of delight. Imagine back in the day when you’d have to haul that booze-spiked, behemoth of a fruit conspicuously through the park. Bust out this cocktail made with blonde rum, allspice dram, watermelon juice (natch), lime juice, and basil syrup from a thermos and a shuttlecock might magically conk you on the head as a high-five. Just like its name conjures up, this basil and watermelon rum cocktail is absolutely smashing.
It’s not Shrimps & Grits, it’s Shrimps & Corn. When it’s summertime humid in the South one shouldn’t be slaving over a brew of corn meal simmering slowly for hours. Freshly shucked, flash-cooked sweet corn works so much better in contrasting the unctuousness of the chicken-fried shrimp and bacon lardons. The crowning glory of this cast iron beauty, a pickled fresno salad for acid and just the right amount of heat.
It’s a sweltering night with sophisticated friends gathered in the veranda under paper lanterns. You need a cool me down drink and it better be pretty. The Lavender Silver Sour, based on a fizz recipe with its egg white and lemon components, makes everything seem frivolous and fun. The honey and lavender, adding a sweet and floral dimension, dictates sips rather than swigs. What could be better when the temperature tips 90F?
Around Southern California it’s basically Summer and Kinda Summer as far as seasons go. Especially during the months of June to September, brunch is the name of the game and it’s best enjoyed outdoors on the patio.
French Loves This has a Yelp story associated with it. Alas, after six consecutive cocktails as part of this tasting, my recollection of that story is rather hazy. Best thing is to ask Chef Roman himself. What has left an indelible mark, though, is that this brunch item is the absolute bomb. You have a 3AM French Toast (the kind you would fix up at the end of your restaurant shift) that’s interestingly hefty and fluffy at the same time. Slathered with a sweet orange marmalade; topped with luscious eggs; and dotted with the most decadent chunks of coffee, maple glazed pork cheeks this side of the farm, your eyes will roll back in rapture. If nothing else, it will allow you to power through last night’s stupor.
Once you taste the Macallans’ Bloody Mary that’s paired with it, you’ll dump the traditional vodka sort immediately down the drain. This whoop-ass version swirls around your tongue with its whiskey sweetness and has loads of depth and richness . The wee bacon-tater bomb as garnish is a perfect bite accompaniment — nowhere as obnoxious as the cornucopias typically attacking this hangover cure. By far the best Bloody Mary that I have ever had and will continue to have from now until eternity. Amen.
Remembering that this is an Irish pub after all, a sampler platter called the Trifecta was presented before us. Since Ireland doesn’t have a true summer and is chilly and/or rainy during the middle months, comfort food generously abounds.
Shepherd’s Pie is The Best Shepherd’s Pie. Ever. This rustic casserole is incredibly hearty, with braised beef and lamb canoodling with good for you vegetables, all snug underneath creamy mashed potatoes. Chef Roman elevates this dish with tumbleweeds of crisped up shoestring parsnip.
In a list of things that go well together like Bogie and Bacall , the marriage of Fish & Chips is a long-standing pub romance. A plank of crunchy and moist beer-battered cod and hand-cut fried potatoes trickled with a pipette of malt vinegar will allow you to weather the storm quite contently.
Bangers and mash — sausage and mashed potatoes for the laymen — are perfect not only for Saint Patrick’s Day but any given day of the year. A favorite amongst the public house regulars, these charred, fatty sausages with buttery potatoes ladled liberally with onion gravy is perfect for soaking up an afternoon’s worth of beer.
Speaking of which, you have to break out some time-honored Guinness with these classics. We thoroughly enjoyed a Guinness n’ Black, which is about a finger or two of crème de cassis poured into a glass and topped off with the dry stout. Easy peasy and a good use of your granny’s black currant liqueur stash in the cupboard.
P.S. It’s very much appreciated when a bartender serves a drink that you like AND offers you the recipe to make with great facility on your own.
What could be more frozen novelty flashback than an ice cream sandwich from the roving Good Humor truck? This house-made Heath Bar Crunch Cookie brings back those childhood memories and is the consummate combo of crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle. The coolness of the (also house-made) vanilla ice cream shaves off some of the English toffee sweetness.
The clincher? A chill and frothy Alexander to help wash it all down. Not a Brandy Alexander, mind you, but the precursor to that cognac-based dessert libation. Due to its silken, refreshing creaminess, the Alexander (gin, creme de cacao, light cream, and ground nutmeg) is also popularly known as a Milk Shake. An adult milk shake.
Interested in some more modern pub food and craft cocktails? Come to the first ever Bartenders Potluck presented by barman Paul Joseph Piane. Located at the Skybar next to Macallans, local bars/restaurants can compete by bringing a crafted punch accompanied by a dish from their kitchen. Donations and tips go to the victor! Paul strongly urges you to come with heavy pockets.
Attire requested is dress to impress/formal/smart. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll see you there!
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Corky Nepomuceno has 62 post(s) on Fullerton Foundry