This week we’re piloting a new series in which Laguna Beach’s top cooks, bartenders, and pastry chefs share the dishes, drinks, and desserts that they see locals coming back for time and again. It’s long been said that local knowledge is the best source of information for travelers; this series aims at taking that local knowledge and making it public—so that everyone can benefit from the insight of residents.
We’re kicking off with The Deck, a beach hang out that literally hangs out over the Pacific Ocean and has quickly become one of the city’s beloved early-evening hotspots. We spoke with John Nye, Director of Operations for the restaurant and bar.
VISIT LAGUNA BEACH: What item on the menu do you see locals choosing time and again?
THE DECK: It may not be on the official menu, but more than anything they’re coming for our happy hour. We have a pretty incredible sunset viewing setup, and no one loves sunset watching like Laguna locals. Combine that with six-dollar premium well drinks, and two-dollar oysters and you can see why they make it part of their routine.
VISIT LAGUNA BEACH: And when they come for happy hour…
THE DECK: The Cali Cooler is the drink that locals seem to gravitate to and the one our bartenders recommend most. It features Hendrick’s Gin, Shishito peppers, cucumber, lime-sour, ginger beer, and mint.
VISIT LAGUNA BEACH: Why do you think it’s so popular with the local-set?
THE DECK: Those are classic California-cuisine flavors—it feels crisp and fresh instead of saccharine. If you’re coming for happy hour a few times a week, you don’t want something too sugary that makes your teeth feel like they’re sticking together.
VISIT LAGUNA BEACH: What was the inspiration behind the drink?
THE DECK: I think our bartenders wanted to do something that reflected the coast, without becoming a typical “beach drink”. To have Shishitos, mint, lime, and cucumber in there, those are all green, and green feels fresh—that’s how an evening at the beach feels too, isn’t it? Refreshing.
VISIT LAGUNA BEACH: What are your favorite parts of the Laguna Beach culinary scene?
THE DECK: We love being in Laguna! It’s an active community—we get people dropping by on afternoon strolls, popping in, and bringing their friends from out of town. Tourists and locals mingle and listen to live music, but all talk stops cold when the sun sets—which is pretty cool and feels very “Laguna” to me.
VISIT LAGUNA BEACH: Anything else you want to add?
THE DECK: Hmmm….We feel like this is a good introduction to gin for non-gin drinkers. The alcohol is well balanced by the other flavors. Cheers!