Whether you’re planning an adult Disneyland adventure or a quick escape from the maddening maze of ride lines, it’s good to know where to find the best drinks at the Happiest Place on Earth. (Because, let’s face it, you’re gonna need something stronger than Dole Whip to dislodge that “It’s A Small World” earworm.) You still can’t drink alcohol inside Disneyland Park itself—at least not without a Club 33 membership—but around the Disneyland Resort, you’ll find all manner of grown-up refreshments.
Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, Disneyland Hotel
The decor at this faux-Polynesian outpost would make Vic Bergeron green with envy: hand-carved Tikis, glass float lights and not one but two animatronic features: Order the Uh Oa bowl or the Krakatoa Punch to watch Mount Krakatoa’s lava erupt; call for a Shipwreck on the Rocks to bring on thunder, lightning and a sinking ship-in-a-bottle on the back bar. Many drinks come with collectible mugs, sought after by Disney fanatics and Tiki nerds alike. There’s lanai seating, complete with torches and a thatched roof, but we recommend pulling up a rattan bar stool in the galley to catch the show.
What to drink: Despite the goofy name, the Hippopotamai-Tai is a well-balanced riff on the classic Mai Tai featuring light and dark rums, Curaçao, orgeat, agave nectar and fresh lime juice. Many of Trader Sam’s bartenders first made their names at other craft cocktail bars, so they’re well-versed in your favorite off-menu Tiki libations, too—Fog Cutter, anyone?
Carthay Circle Lounge, Disney’s California Adventure
Tucked inside a replica of a vintage Hollywood movie palace lies your destination for silver screen glamour. (If you weren’t surrounded by people in mouse ears and flip-flops, you might expect to seeNick and Nora Charles stroll in.) The drink menu leans heavily toward classics, made with quality ingredients by well-trained bartenders. Snacks are hearty and interesting: We’re fans of the pork tostaditas and the butcher’s plate, featuring three types of salumi plus a generous assortment of cheese, dried fruit and nuts.
What to drink: Carthay Circle’s picture-perfect version of the Tequila Daisy includes a splash of crème de violette and a candied violet garnish. The signature Carthay Diamond Manhattan, made with Bulleit rye and Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, comes with a trio of Luxardo cherries and a gemstone-shaped ice cube from a custom copper ice-ball maker.
Napa Rose Lounge, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
The flagship restaurant at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel is an eye-popping example of Craftsman architecture, with the bar as its centerpiece. Stickley-esque bar stools surround an ornate oak bar accented with arts-and-crafts tiles; Mackintosh-inspired pendants descend from the beamed ceiling; a fire roars in its monumental hearth. The cocktail list is equally nostalgic: Sazeracs rub shoulders with Old Fashioneds and a handful of Manhattan variations. Bartenders, too, tend toward the old school, with their embroidered vests and repertoire of risqué jokes. Nibbles are a step above the usual, including a pizzetta with La Quercia prosciutto, red flame grapes and Cambozola cheese.
Don’t let the Victorian filigree fool you: This whimsical gazebo overlooking the Paradise Bay boardwalk has some boozy tricks up its sleeve. Against a backdrop of California Adventure icons—the California Screamin’ coaster and Mickey’s Fun Wheel—you’d rightly expect to encounter a menu of colorful, cloying drinks like the Blue Glowtini and Poison Appletini. But you’ll also find some thoughtful classics: Sip a Moscow Muleor BacardiMojito while snacking on a plate of the bar’s justifiably famous lobster nachos. Time your visit right, and you might score a sweet seat for the World of Color water spectacular.
What to drink: Sample a spicy Habanero Lime Margarita made with Patrón Silver tequila and house-made sour mix. Or go with the Technicolor flow and order a Black Pearl: This Long Island Iced Tea variation—rum, vodka, gin, sour mix, Sprite and a generous float of Chambord—comes from the bar’s “secret menu,” a roster of retired specialty drinks kept alive on Disney chat boards.
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Downtown Disney
(image: Visit Anaheim)
This outpost of the famed New Orleans restaurant empire—Mr. Ralph is a Commander’s Palace co-owner—can show you a thing or two about eatin’, drinkin’ and carryin’ on. Sip a Sazerac by the courtyard fountain or at a table on the wrought-iron balcony, and you might forget you’re in Southern California. Okay, not really—the dramatic lack of humidity’s a dead giveaway. But in all other respects, you’re in for a Nola-style treat: Friday and Saturday nights, the Flambeaux Room welcomes jazz acts while musicians promenade around the upper floor. And Sunday brunch is a spectacle to be reckoned with, complete with chicken and waffles, a live band, plus round after round of Irish Coffees and Cajun Bloody Marys.
What to drink: The Category-5 Hurricane blends orange juice, pineapple juice and grenadine with three kinds of rum: Don Q, Myers’s and a float of Bacardi151. On the gentler side, the Bayou Breakfast kicks up house-made Bloody Mary mix withJim Beam Maple bourbon—and a bacon-strip garnish, mais oui!