Located in Buena Park, California, is a cozy little sanctuary called The Cauldron Spirits & Brews. The witch-themed restaurant and bar opened its doors this past February, welcoming guests to cross its threshold. I spent an enchanting evening here and want to take you behind-the-scenes of 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 brought 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 currently displayed explores literary female figures and witchcraft. Pieces by local and guest artists will also be showcased and even up for grabs for anyone interested in purchasing.
After taking in the scenery, it was time to look at the menu. It 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. My husband and I feasted on gougeres (cheese puffs), French meatballs and steak frites with mustard mornay sauce. For dessert, we indulged in crème brulee. The courses were delicious and satisfying.
The major highlights of the menu though are the specialty cocktails. I already 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 imbibed in were finely crafted. If you’re in the mood for just libations, visit during Witching Hour, which is 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.
Get all the information your heart desires about this magical place at The Cauldron Spirits & Brews official website.