Some journos spend months landing an exclusive interview with a Hollywood star. We spent six weeks working to bring you this exclusive review of California Pizza Kitchen’s cocktails. Our request went from server to manager to general manager to corporate office to public relations to marketing to… well, who knows? Way up we went in the halls of corporate pizza power and back down again to get the OK. At last it was on. CPK, we’re coming for your cocktails, so unlock that liquor cabinet.
First of all, has it really been 19 years since CPK hung its shingle at the former corner of De la Guerra? General Manager Kevin Secky has been here nine of those years, making sure the gears are greased and the dough is spinning. The full bar has only been open for three years, where it served beer and wine only once. But now there’s a page full of mojitos and margaritas and another page of assorted specialty drinks. Secky put the human face on the machine and welcomed us to it.
Our first cocktail was the Caribbean Sunset Sangria, which one will find at the top of the wine menu. This is the white wine option and comes loaded with all sorts of things: mango purée, Malibu Passion Fruit rum, DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps and even apple juice, all in a base of Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio. The peach flavor is very forward, followed closely with the passion fruit. The wine does get lost, so be warned.
Moving on, the Cherry Lime Sparkler intends to remind the adults of Cherry 7UP, and in this case, they have succeeded. Before being told this, our fellow mixologist called it straight. Check the ingredients: Three Olives cherry vodka, Torani Cherry Lime Syrup, lime juice and club soda for the fizz. This is not as sweet as the sangria, but it is unabashedly girly. It also has zip, and in these hot months, it won’t last very long on the table. Ours disappeared soon after a photo was taken.
We ended with the Classic Mojito, one of about six on the menu. Bacardi, mint leaves, lime juice, club soda. This was okay, although we wished for more mint and a tad more sugar. The others on the menu looked a bit more adventurous, so start there.
Our choice, after this month of wheeling, dealing and negotiating, was simple: the Cherry Lime Sparkler. CPK, you made it easy… all too easy.
CHERRY LIME SPARKLER
2 ounces Three Olives cherry vodka
1½ ounces Torani Cherry Lime Syrup
1 ounce fresh lime juice
Mix vodka, syrup and juice together with ice, strain into hurricane glass and top with club soda. Garnish with cherry and lime slice.
CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN
719 Paseo Nuevo