Credit: Taste of Catalina Food Tours
A friend of mine says the only thing that makes him happier than a day at Catalina is spending part of that day bar-hopping on the island Happy Hour Tour. He makes a good point. Taste of Catalina's adults-only Happy Hour Tour introduces participants to some of the best watering holes in Avalon.
You can try new drinks, get acquainted with friendly bartenders and meet some very happy people. Plus, the tour helps you learn a little bit about the community and gives you a bit of a buzz to start your night out right.
The two-hour walking tour is held most days of the week (summer, fall and spring) at 3:30 and visits five Avalon drinking spots, where participants are served appetizers, specialty cocktails and shots ($69 per person).
We were off to a great start the afternoon I took the tour, making our first stop at Coyote Joe's Restaurant and Bar , where we met our fellow drinkers, ate loaded nachos and drank a John Daly (lemonade and sweet tea vodka). Meanwhile, our guide gave us the inside story on where to eat and drink on the Island.
Before long, we ambled around the corner to another Avalon favorite, Luau Larry's, home of the Wiki Wacker, a sweet, $9 concoction of light rum, brandy, pineapple, orange juice and grenadine. It comes with a straw hat, so everyone in town will know you indulged. We skipped the Wacker in favor of Mexican lollipop shots, which gave us a spicy jolt.
Maggie's Blue Rose, our next stop, is the newest restaurant and bar in town, known for its tasty, contemporary Mexican food, 22-foot-long bar and excellent margaritas. We ate more chips and salsa, plus the restaurant's sweet corn appetizer, and tried one of its signature drinks, a guava margarita. Wow. We were having a fine time, indeed.
But more drinks and snacks awaited, so we moved on to Bluewater Avalon, an over-the-bay restaurant with terrific views and a seafood menu. The creamy, dreamy surprise here was buffalo milk, Catalina Island's favorite drink, originally made at Doug's Harbor Reef restaurant at Two Harbors in 1977. The smoothie-like drink doesn't really contain buffalo milk; it's a combination of vodka, cream, cacao and banana liqueurs, Kahlua and whipped cream.
Last on the list was the Marlin Club, the oldest bar in town. Built by Merchant Marines during World War II to look like a boat, the club is the Island's original dive bar. We popped Jell-O shots when we entered and received a coupon for a second drink. At this point, I was pretty sure I didn't need it and pocketed it to use after dinner. Such a deal. And such a fun way to spend an afternoon.
by Rosemary McClure