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California cocktails for savoring summer


The small, quaint city of Ojai, California, sits fifteen miles east of Santa Barbara, in the beautiful, oak-filled valley for which it was named. Chain stores are prohibited here. People speak quietly and ride bicycles more often than cars. There are more yoga and chakra-aligning studios than gas stations or grocery stores. Sensitive celebrities (Emily Blunt, Channing Tatum, John Krasinski), eccentric heiresses (Aileen Getty, Anna Getty) and earthy designers (Ramin Shamshiri, Channon Roe) sneak away from Los Angeles to live in quiet refuges up in Ojai's hills, where the hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding opportunities are endless. Still others live in teepees and earth ships and simple homes. The New York Times recently extolled the virtues of this "Hippie Hideaway". Not for no reason, the town of roughly ten thousand is nicknamed "Shangri-La." And that's before you even begin to consider the libations to be had here.

With a Mediterranean climate that produces hot summers, Ojai is also a citrus fruit haven. The Page tangor, Seedless Kishu mandarin, Owari Satsuma mandarin and (perhaps best loved of all) the Pixie tangerine all grow here at places like Friend's Ranch. As do W. Murcott tangerines, Eureka lemons, Valencia oranges and figs. A fantastic local tapas restaurant and bar called Azu serves juices squeezed from Ojai's bountiful orchards as well as some of the best locally-sourced cocktails north of Los Angeles.

Two of these drinks, whose recipes are presented for you below, will help to prolong summer and provide warmth in the fall and winter. If you happen to be in Ojai soon—lucky you—we'd suggest mixing up a batch and heading to Meditation Mount with a blanket and someone you like a whole lot. The views there will match—and maybe even surpass—the flavors of the drinks in your hands. At dusk, Ojai experiences a unique light described, simply, as "the golden hour." Cocktails make it even better. You'll see.

Fig Ridin’ Shotgun: During the summer, Ojai produces some incredible-tasting figs. Here is a play on a bourbon-based Sidecar cocktail made instead with pink peppercorn infused Four Roses bourbon, fig reduction (organic figs reduced with organic agave nectar), triple sec and lime, shaken and served with a slice of fig on the rim of the glass.

Moon Valley Old Fashioned: Ojai is known for its citrus, which the chef turns into what is dubbed, “Moon Valley Marmalade.” This Old Fashioned replaces muddled fruit with a spoonful of the marmalade, which is stirred into a few dashes of Bitter Truth bitters and finished with High West Bourye Whiskey and a touch of club soda before being garnished with a slice of orange and a brandied cherry. Any organic marmalade will do! No toast required.