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Newhall Refinery Pours New Cocktails

Newhall Refinery has really come a long way since it first opened on Main Street in Old Town Newhall.  The introduction of the gastropub concept into Santa Clarita was new and innovative and helped to bring along another few eateries in town, exposing Claritans to a constantly rotating craft beer selection and menu items which aren’t found elsewhere in the valley.  The one thing the place lacked (but not unlike other gastropubs) was any sort of cocktail.

Newhall Refinery General Manager Erin Plummer developed the cocktail menu.
Newhall Refinery General Manager Erin Plummer developed the cocktail menu.

The end of March changed all of that as Newhall Refinery unveiled its spirited beverage program.  Finally a chance to enjoy a sip of a cocktail while you wait for your roasted bone marrow, the hangar steak or the scallops.  Thanks to our good friend Eve Bushman (of EveWine101.com) we got the chance to sample all of the cocktails featured on their new menu, and the craft spirits behind each of them, taking them for a little taste drive, with general manager Erin Plummer leading the way through the drinks she developed and designed for the Refinery.

Hanson Organic Vodka, made from grapes from Sonoma County
Hanson Organic Vodka, made from grapes from Sonoma County

Plummer told us the strategy was to follow the direction that they had started with when it comes to beer, and by that they wanted to offer only alcohol that are craft sprits, not the mass-produced large batch stuff that you’ll find in any old bar, even if it’s the “good stuff.”  Instead they sought out unique choices, starting off with Hanson Vodka.  An organic vodka made from grapes in Sonoma County, it certainly is unique.    Hanson is featured in two cocktails being poured behind the bar, including their take on a Moscow Mule (featuring a heavy dose of mint and lime) and a Blackberry Fence Hopper, which features fresh muddled blackberries, lemon juice and a little Turbinado sugar.   Both of the drinks were a bit sweet for my liking, but definitely showed the effort put into making them.

The L-Train. Barr Hill Gin with lemon juice, St. Germain liqueur, and muddled lavender.
The L-Train. Barr Hill Gin with lemon juice, St. Germain liqueur, and muddled lavender.

The two best drinks for me were the L-Train and the Bloody Brilliant.  The L-Train was originally conceived by a glassware maker in Brooklyn, named after the train that they’d take into Union Station to pick up lavender, an essential ingredient in the drink.  In addition to the purple and delicious flower, the L-Train features Barr Hill Gin (which alone is amazing!  Delicately kissed with a bit of honey for a unique taste, I’d have taken the bottle home with me if I could have…) and St. Germain, a French liqueur made from elderflower, and a touch of lemon juice.

Bloody Brilliant - Evan Williams Single Barrel bourbon, blood orange juice, bitters and ginger ale.
Bloody Brilliant – Evan Williams Single Barrel bourbon, blood orange juice, bitters and ginger ale.

The Bloody Brilliant, was, well, bloody brilliant!  A bourbon drink with fresh blood orange juice, a splash of ginger ale and Abbott’s bitters (a bit smokier version of bitters that you’re undoubtedly familiar with if you like a whisky drink like a Manhattan or Old Fashioned).  I typically like my bourbon neat, or on a sphere, but there was something about this drink that make it really stand out.  Newhall Refinery makes theirs with Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon which is a fine choice in a cocktail. If you’re looking for it neat, they do have 7 other bourbons and 10 other whiskys available as well.

Raspberry Suerte - Suerte Blanco Tequila, muddled raspberries, lime and agave nectar.
Raspberry Suerte – Suerte Blanco Tequila, muddled raspberries, lime and agave nectar.

The Raspberry Suerte, made with Suerte blanco tequila, raspberries, lime and agave nectar is an interesting choice that gives you a chance to kick things up with a spicy option that incorporates a muddled habanero pepper.  Many at the tasting suggested that this drink is like a “his and hers” option, although I’ll leave it to you to decide who gets the spicy side.

A classic (unfrozen) daquiri featuring Angostura white oak rum, grapefruit juice, lime juice, can syrup and maraschino cherry liqueur.
A classic (unfrozen) daquiri featuring Angostura white oak rum, grapefruit juice, lime juice, can syrup and maraschino cherry liqueur.

Other cocktails on the menu include some old standards like a classic (aka NOT frozen) Daiquiri, a muddled Old Fashioned, and a Manhattan.  This is where things were somewhat average for me.  The Daiquiri was a bit overpowered by the addition of grapefruit juice (a nod to Ernest Hemingway’s preference in Daiquiri), the Old Fashioned I prefer to have orange peel that is scorched instead of a whole slice of muddled orange in the bottom, and the Manhattan they add cane syrup use Vya sweet vermouth to which makes it a little too sweet for my preference.  For what it’s worth, I’d skip these.

Newhall Refinery
24258 Main St,
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
661-388-4477
Closed Mondays