Located in Buena Park, California, is a cozy little sanctuary called The Cauldron Spirits & Brews. The witch-themed restaurant and bar welcomes guests to cross its threshold for an enchanting evening of good food and divine drinks. If you’ve yet to visit, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at this delightful spot.
Lara Hanneman is the brain, or magician shall we say, behind The Cauldron. After spending several years as the Creative Director at Knott’s Berry Farm where she headed major projects such as Halloween Haunt, Hanneman decided to quit her job and pursue her dream of establishing her own restaurant. What she has conjured, from the ambience to the menu, is a charming dining experience.
The founder’s design expertise is evident once you step inside. The décor is inspired by 17th-century European pubs with wooden furniture, stone floor, plush couches for lounging and walls that appear to be worn with antiquity. The bar is reminiscent of a well-stocked apothecary. A black cauldron hangs in the fireplace and above the mantel is a grand mirror with a wondering emerald-green eye staring out at guests. It brings to my mind a few images—a cat’s eye, the evil eye of Sauron in the “Lord of the Rings” films and the eye of the spell book in “Hocus Pocus.”
In one corner, next to the bar, is a large bookcase with shelves holding an array of literature and if you peer closely, there is a camouflaged door that leads to a secret room. This secluded area can be reserved for special events. Mystical artwork by Lara Hanneman decorates the walls. The collection explores literary female figures and witchcraft. Pieces by local and guest artists are showcased and even up for grabs for anyone interested in purchasing.
Food & Drink
The menu features small bites and main courses inspired by French cuisine with a comfort food twist. Dishes are served in a manner that is perfect for sharing between two or more people. On past visits, my husband and I have feasted on gougeres (cheese puffs), French meatballs and steak frites with mustard mornay sauce. And for dessert, I’ve indulged in crème brulee.
The major highlights of the menu though are the specialty cocktails. During my first time here, I had my mind set on the Grey Witch potion. It is inspired by the French 75 cocktail and consists of champagne, Nolet’s gin and a dash of Violette. I like my adult beverages clean and not sweet, and this drink didn’t disappoint. Although the rim of the glass was lined with sugar, I just sipped out of one spot so that the flavor was not overpowered by too many of the crystals. My husband ordered the Sazarac which contains absinthe. Not a refreshment for the faint of heart, the taste was smooth and titillating. Overall, the drinks we’ve imbibed in are finely crafted. If you’re in the mood for just libations, visit during Witching Hour, which is on Wednesdays from midnight to 2 a.m.
As if I haven’t overdone it enough with witch-themed puns and vocabulary, I must say I was completely spellbound with The Cauldron. It’s a place that I imagine would be the haunt of the Harry Potter gang once they were of legal drinking age. A wonderful haven for both intimate and public gatherings, it’s an entertaining place to visit if you’re in or near Orange County.
Know Before You Go:
- Hours: Wednesday-Sunday from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen closes nightly at 11 p.m.)
- Happy Hour: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Witch Wine Sundays: 50% off wine bottles all day
Note: After 11 p.m., the restaurant is 21 and over only, so bring ID.
Get all the information your heart desires about this magical place at The Cauldron Spirits & Brews.