The Spa Collins cocktail at Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar
HAVEN CRAFT KITCHEN + BAR
190 S. Glassell St., Orange
Normally writing this column is easy. We sample a few cocktails, photograph the most lovely one and just plain enjoy ourselves. But this month was different.
This month’s Liquid Assets conjured deeper feelings. Thoughts of milestones and setbacks. What’s really important and what’s just noise that clouds our minds and dilutes our lives. Why such heavy thoughts?
It’s because the night before our photoshoot, Wil Dee, the owner and mastermind behind Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar in Old Towne Orange, experienced a life-changing event: His mother passed. She had been sick for a long time. Dee and his sister had cared for her as best they could before she eventually slipped away in the night. “She went peacefully,” said Dee’s friend and publicist Mona Shah.
What was remarkable was watching Dee walk through Haven the day after. His nose was slightly red and his eyes, blood-shot from probably crying all night, were hidden behind dark black glasses. He hugged his staff and Shah, then gave a round of high fives to the bar team before sneaking out the back door.
I wanted to say something comforting, but words can’t replace a loved one. “Thanks for being here,” he said before he left. Then it hit me. Maybe that’s it. When the universe challenges us and rocks us to our core, we need spaces that make us feel better. Our homes away from home. True neighborhood gems. Places such as Haven that remind us of the good times.
After 10 years, Dee continues to cultivate a family of food lovers, beer connoisseurs and cocktail nerds at Haven. Greg Bayer, a true cocktail master, is now behind the bar. He is soft-spoken, but Bayer’s mastery of cocktail classics is outstanding. He researches the difficult more nuanced drinks – and makes a perfectly clear milk punch, the epitome of refined tiki drinks. When you chat with Bayer about libations you can tell that he pores over old-time recipes as if they were mystery novels, taking in each ingredient and each step as if they were clues to the holy grail of cocktails. This passion is why Dee can walk into Haven even on one of his worst days and leave feeling better. We all need places like this. Fortunately, we have Haven.
- 1.5 ounces St. George Botanivore
- 1/2 ounce Cointreau
- 3/4 ounce lime juice
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- 3 muddled raspberries
- 2 pieces muddled cucumber
- Garnish: Fresh raspberries and cucumber ribbon.
Combine ingredients. Shake and strain. Top with splash of soda then garnish.