I have wanted to go check out some of the bars in new, trendy, downtown Santa Ana and finally got my chance back in July. We arrive around 530 pm; the street and the bar at Memphis at Santora are empty. There is one customer at the bar, a single guy, eating the most delicious smelling mussels. My first issue is the stools don’t have back support. Why do people even make these wretched, torturous things? But at the bar we must sit. There’s a young kid behind the bar. I peruse the menu and discover that there is a Maker’s Mark or Old Overholt Manhattan on the happy hour menu. I ask what else he’s got and out of nowhere, another bartender (yes, another kid; are they all kids?) appears and a lovely discussion ensues. I’m looking to try something different. He tells me he had a feeling about me right away and pulls down a bottle of Russell’s Bourbon and pours us both a shot. He swigs his down. I do not. He tells me he never shakes his manhattans. The cocktail turns out to be not as strong as I expect it to be, maybe a little sweet but very smooth going down.
The first bartender is inquiring if he can leave early to go to San Francisco and gives us our food but forgets my friend's wine. Bartender #2 asks what we ordered and quickly gets it. Bartender #1 seems clueless and unconcerned and eventually makes his way around to our side of the bar and orders something to eat and stays there for as long as we are there. Friend gets the beet salad and I get the crab cakes.
Everything is very, very good. Bartender #2, whose name is Jefferson, is having some kind of issue with one of the waitresses and makes it pretty obvious. Then a bartender from another bar comes in to give Jefferson a bottle of something homemade. Have no idea what it is but I get a shot of that too. I liked this place; it's pretty and we got excellent service. I went back a few weeks ago and got less than enthusiastic service from Jefferson but I blame it on the extremely grouchy person I was with. I did discover on this second visit that they have a bourbon flight (4 for $20) so I guess I'll be going for a 3rd visit.