Spirit Backward: Orange County’s Dry Drinking Movement Takes Root at Temperance

Photo courtesy Brian Feinzimer/FeinPhoto.

Matcha Cocktail

EDITOR’S NOTE: Voice of OC is proud and excited to introduce a new journalist to our team: Anne Marie Panoringan.

If her name sounds familiar, it probably means you’re a foodie: she wrote for years about the local dining scene in the OC Weekly, and she’s one of the most experienced and knowledgeable local food writers out there. Whether it’s Amar Santana’s newest culinary wonderland or an obscure but worthwhile spot in an out-of-the-way strip mall, Anne Marie covers it expertly. As you can see from this column, she writes about adult beverages as well.

Anne Marie will be delivering her tasty thoughts and tips twice monthly for Voice of OC. She’d love to hear from you — don’t be shy. 

Imagine coming up with a 2020 resolution and sticking to it. Now, imagine coming up with a realistic goal and maintaining it. There are ways to pursue a healthier lifestyle that don’t necessarily involve strict dieting or new gym memberships.

In the past year, there’s been an emergence around the globe of spots featuring zero-proof drinking: Exuding the social aspects of a lounge, but serving cocktails made without alcohol. Not to be confused with a coffeehouse or juice bar, the places serving these curated beverages are on par with a sophisticated cocktail program found in a speakeasy setting.

Orange County officially becomes a part of this dry drinking movement beginning today when Temperance Bar pours its first sober beverage in the notoriously boozy college area of Downtown Fullerton. 

Co-founded by Corky Nepomuceno and Charisma Madarang, the duo listed reasons why this movement was becoming commonplace in places like the United Kingdom and Manhattan. “It made sense,” Nepomuceno says. “More and more people are focused on self-care, the wellness path, and presenting themselves in the most attractive light on social media.” Temperance allows the best of both worlds — the ability to party down, yet still recall what happened the next morning over brunch. 

Testing the Waters as a Pop-Up

Guest bartenders throughout the region will rotate at Rialto Café, a popup space where Burger Parlor and Blue Light Speak Cheesy once moonlighted, one Friday evening each month. Those selected are in charge of the Temperance Cocktail, sourced from wellness ingredients such as tumeric and matcha.

Collaborations with local dining rooms including Old Town Orange’s Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar – or in the case of Santa Ana distillery Blinking Owl, a tasting room – will feature their own zero-proof concoctions. “Owning a spirits company certainly brings challenges of maintaining a balance on alcohol intake. I’m thrilled, personally, that non-alcoholic cocktail options are thriving and giving us drinkers an alternative to achieve that balance.” says Robin Roy Christenson, founder and CFO of Blinking Owl.

The Washington Post wrote a piece about living a glamorized sober life which put Orange County in the spotlight. The article not only began with a photograph of a Disney California Adventure mocktail, it also references another OC-based brand, Bravus Brewing Co. Those with a penchant for hops will have an opportunity to try out their non-alcoholic craft beer at Temperance.

Bar director Steven Hayden of the recently opened The Bronze Quail was already utilizing the alcohol-free benefits of Seedlip spirits in the former Hotel Fullerton dining room of Journeyman’s Food + Drink.

Orange County is no stranger to this lifestyle; it merely needed Nepomuceno and Madarang to take it that step further.

A Trend Takes Hold

How did I know that zero-proof imbibing was becoming mainstream? It was after a night of dining at Single Thread Farms over the summer. Located in the Sonoma County town of Healdsburg, the restaurant earned a staggering three Michelin stars last June. However, I didn’t covet the reservation because of the stars; I’ve wanted to dine there since they initially opened in 2016. Their stellar rating sealed the deal for my dining companions.

Photo courtesy of Corky Nepomuceno

Paul Joseph Piane will be the first guest bartender at the Temperance Bar pop-up in Fullerton on Jan. 17, 2020.

In lieu of Single Thread’s $270 nightly wine pairing, a few opted for their $100 non-alcoholic pairing flight. Not quite knowing what to expect, we were impressed by flutes of pineapple sage with preserved lemon; tomato water with pickled wasabi and pickled pepper; and sips of mandarin peach, honeysuckle and hazelnut. Sober drinking spans from the Happiest Place on Earth to Sonoma’s wine country chic.

Paul Joseph Piane will be behind the counter for January at Temperance. Originally from Rome, Italy, Piane’s background includes stints at The Cellar in Fullerton, Macallans Public House in Brea, The Edison in downtown Los Angeles and West Hollywood’s recently opened The Edition hotel.

Cocktails including zero-proof matcha blended with yuzu, aquafaba, and ginger will be offered alongside eclectic pairings from Chef Cody Storts. Come say “Cheers!” to the long weekend where it’s 0% proof, 100% social.

As I mentioned, Temperance Bar begins today. For reservations, please follow this link.

Also This Weekend . . . .

Saturday, January 18, 2020 – Wasted! The Story of Food Waste (2017) playing at 11 a.m. at The Art Theatre in Long Beach. Executive Producer Anthony Bourdain (R.I.P.) presents a side of the industry that needs to be addressed. Utilizing his extensive network, we learn how chefs create delicacies from less desirable ingredients, contributing towards a solution to this growing concern. This is a one-time viewing. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020 – Mess Hall Market’s Paint and Sip Sunday – Moonlit Sea in Tustin from 1-4 p.m. Follow along with the master artist as they walk you through this sunset scene. All supplies (minus the alcohol) are provided. Spend a lazy afternoon at this food hall checking in to your creative side; go home with a personal work of art.

Anne Marie Panoringan is a contributing writer for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. She can be reached at ampanoringan@voiceofoc.org.