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Leave the flasks at home, folks. There are, in fact, legitimate ways to get a buzz going at Disneyland Resort. Though Disneyland Park is a strictly booze-free zone (other than the exclusive Club 33), Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney offer the 21-and-older crowd plenty of friendly places to get a little tipsy. After all, on a hot summer day, a frozen lemonade doesn’t quite hit the spot the way a chilled beer does.
Following are our top five spots for getting merry at the happiest place on Earth.
Karl Strauss BiergartenReady for that cold brew yet? Located within Disney California Adventure’s Pacific Wharf, Karl Strauss Biergarten is essentially a beer truck that peddles a modest — but mighty — selection of Karl Strauss beers: Tower 10 IPA, Endless Summer Light, Amber Lager, Red Trolley Ale, Pintail Pale Ale and a seasonal selection. Beers will set you back about $9 each, and like all Disneyland establishments, there’s a limit of two drinks per order. A still-warm, doughy pretzel will round out the German-influenced experience, and, true to Disneyland fashion, there’s one shaped like Mickey Mouse.
The long lines at Karl Strauss Biergarten typically dwindle down fast. But if it still seems daunting, head to the less-frequented Bayside Brews, which also sells craft beers from other breweries.
Bayside BrewsSix craft beers priced at about $9 to $10 on tap and three types of pretzels — including a jalapeno-cheese-filled option — make up the appetizing offerings at this stand, which is located past the Games of the Boardwalk and near the Silly Symphony Swings. Karl Strauss fans can still order a Tower 10 IPA if Pacific Pier's Karl Strauss Biergarten is too crowded, but beer-drinkers can also try a Trestles IPA from Left Coast Brewing Company or a pale lager by Stella Artois instead.
At the time of my last visit in April 2018, there were even off-menu $9 micheladas available — a tasty drink made with beer (in this instance, Cerveza Pacifico Clara lager beer), lime, tomato juice and spices.
Alfresco Tasting TerraceDon’t worry, wine connoisseurs, there’s something for you, too. Hidden upstairs at Disney California Adventure’s Golden Vine Winery restaurant is Alfresco Tasting Terrace, previously Alfresco Lounge. The spot overlooks Radiator Springs and is a shady respite from the masses.
Along with nibbles of charcuterie and cheeses, choose from an extensive menu of red, white, blush and rose wines. All belong to Disney Family of Wines, meaning that each vineyard has some kind of connection with Disney. Indulge in flights ($18-25), glasses or even a full bottle.
Hours are limited — the terrace doesn’t open until either 2 or 3 p.m. — so if you’re itching for a full-bodied sip before then, nearby Mendocino Terrace also has a great wine list but opens a couple hours earlier.
Cove Bar Drink like a (responsible) fish at Cove Bar, an outdoor bar set on Disneyland California Adventure’s Paradise Pier. In addition to yummy appetizers such as the popular lobster nachos, the menu features an array of sparkling, red and white wines, sangria, beer and cocktails, including different types of margaritas, martinis and mojitos.
However, just like Walt Disney and his hidden Mickeys sprinkled throughout the park, Cove Bar has surprises up its sleeve: secret drinks in almost every color of the rainbow, for about $12 each. There’s the Neverland Tea, a twist on the classic Long Island with the addition of pineapple juice, Sprite, peach schnapps and Midori liqueur, which turns the drink bright green. The murky-looking Zombie might not be very pretty, but the concoction of rums, juices and other mixers tastes deliciously sweet.
You can even sip on a colorful Mickey’s Fun Wheel while its namesake ride is in view. But beware: Made with pink vodka, gin, tequila, rum, blue curacao and a splash of pineapple juice, it’s not for the faint of heart. Other items on the secret menu include the Earthquake, with key ingredients of gin, rum and vodka, and the Black Pearl, also like a Long Island but with Chambord Liqueur and Sprite.
Closing hours vary, from 8 or 9 p.m. on most weekdays and at either 10 p.m. or midnight on Friday through Sunday.
Note: Though Cove Bar recently reopened on March 16, it will only stay open until Monday, May 28. Disneyland will be replacing Cove Bar with Lamplight Lounge, which will be a part of the new Pixar Pier development. Ariel's Grotto, however, has stayed closed.
Carthay Circle LoungeWhen you feel like classing things up a bit, check out Carthay Lounge, in — you guessed it — California Adventure Park. The fine-dining lounge oozes old Hollywood with its sophisticated decor and dimly-lit ambiance, and the upscale drink options also reflect that golden age.
Play the part of a dapper diner and sip on a $12 Carthay Martini, made with vodka or gin, dry vermouth, gourmet truffle olives and an ice sphere made from “locally sourced purified water,” according to the menu. Two other top choices are the Carthay Manhattan, which stars rye whiskey, vermouth, bitters and a cherry garnish, and The Derby, prepared with bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice and honey and served up.
Staying on theme with the park, the establishment offers an assortment of beers and wines all produced in California. Craft-beer enthusiasts will be especially happy to recognize names such as Stone Brewing Co., The Bruery, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Firestone Walker and Bear Republic Brewing Company on the drink menu. Small bottles run about $8 each, while a large bottle can set you back around $16. Flights of beer — as well as more of the hard stuff, including whiskey and cognac — are available, as well.
Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki BarOutside of Disneyland, far past the lit-up shops of Downtown Disney is Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, in Disneyland Hotel’s courtyard.
Almost every square inch of Trader Sam’s is decorated with tiki memorabilia — artifacts gathered by the Jungle Cruise ride’s famous Trader Sam. The bar is lit only by a fluorescent glow and the occasional Uh Oa!, a potent fishbowl-size drink of rums, cinnamon, fruits and tropical juices that dramatically arrives flambeed and is meant for at least two people. You’ll get a bit of attention — and a sudden “rainstorm” — if this is your poison.
Other fun drinks here include the fruity Krakatoa Punch (with an LED-lit “ice cube”) and the Shrunken Zombie Head, which is said to be the bar’s strongest drink. If you want to take home the cool-looking souvenir mugs, the drinks run about $20 each.
Note: The bar is small, with a handful of tables and limited bar seating. There’s no sign-in sheet, so there is usually a line outside the heavy wooden doors (that are always kept shut). You can, however, try to grab a seat on the patio, which has the same menu of drinks and tapas and is also seated on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Trader Sam’s is open from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. daily.