Cove Bar‘s job is to remind you that you’re in the Happiest Place on Earth, over and over again. And it does that job well.
That’s why it’s #OnTheList this week!
If you add a visit to the Cove Bar in Disney California Adventure to your Disney Dining Bucket List, right off the bat you should know that wait times to get in can be loooong. This little outdoor bar (right next to the entrance to Ariel’s Grotto) is well-loved by people in the know, so hang in there… the wait is worth it.
The hallmark of this spot is an unforgettable view of Paradise Bay (and if you hit it at just the right time in the evening it offers you a chance to see a bit of the World of Color nighttime spectacular).
During the day, though, it’s a bit easier to take in some of the other details in this carnival-style setting with nautical pier decor, like the not-so-Hidden Mickeys on the high, white scroll bar stools (all full on my latest visit, as per usual).
Outside of the immediate bar area there is regular table seating as well.
Again, though, it’s all about that view… Not bad, huh?
What’s that you say? You’re curious about that drink in the foreground? Then read on, my friends…
This full-service bar also serves food, and while we’ll definitely be digging in to some eats, the drinks are the star of the show at Cove Bar. But you may not think so at a quick glance when you read the menu featuring standard Disney bar and lounge drinks such as Pina CoLAVAs, Pimm’s Punch, and Blue Glow-tinis.
But as far as we’re concerned, you need to just throw out that standard menu here. Did you know the Cove Bar has a SECRET MENU of amazing drinks? Head’s up, ‘cuz here it comes…
Now, you’ll get different takes on the secret menu. Some say there are five drinks, some say there are seven or eight. From what we can tell, there are five drinks on the SUPER secret menu, and then there are two or three drinks on a “secret-ish” menu that’s made up of specialty drinks that USED to be on the regular menu but aren’t any longer. Confused? Well, no worries. Your focus is about to get a LOT more cloudy up in here.
Let’s get started.
You’re going to notice something similar about four of the next five secret drinks: they’re essentially different takes on a classic Long Island Iced Tea. First up, we’re starting with a nod to Pirates of the Caribbean: the Black Pearl.
It starts out like a classic Long Island with vodka, gin, rum and sweet & sour. However, Chambord and Sprite are added in the mix to give it a new spin. The raspberry flavor of the Chambord lends this one an unexpected fruity flavor, despite its appearance (prepared in a layered style to give it that cool ombre effect).
Next up? The Earthquake! Vodka, gin, rum, and sweet & sour: check! But this time, blue curaçao and Sprite join the mix, and it’s all topped off with a 151 Rum floater. This is the strongest option on the secret menu, and it pretty much feels like you’re sucking down pure alcohol. But it’s beautiful, isn’t it? Silent killer.
Our next twist on the Long Island is the Neverland Tea. While the vodka, gin, and rum are all still very much present, the sweet & sour is replaced here with peach schnapps, pineapple juice and Sprite, while midori lends it that terrific hue of Peter Pan green.
This one’s delicious and smooth. It comes together as a super sweet, tropical twist on the Long Island, and tastes to us the least like the traditional cocktail of all the Cove Bar versions.
I’ve saved my favorite Long Island variation, though, for last: the Fun Wheel, named, of course, for the great view of Mickey’s Fun Wheel from Cove bar. Just looking at it puts me in a good mood!
From bottom to top, the layering begins with pineapple juice, then X-Rated Passion Fruit Vodka (that neat pink color), and finally blue curaçao together with the Long Island ingredients. It’s all topped off with soda water and Disney’s beloved fomz.
If you like a fruity cocktail, then this one is a must. The passion fruit vodka is especially tasty; but even though it is visually terrific as a layered drink, I recommend mixing it up for even better flavor. So, be sure to get your photo ops in first, because you’ll want to remember this one!
The final drink I tried from the secret menu is The Zombie, and rum drinkers will want to take note: it’s made up of light rum, dark rum, coconut rum, spiced rum, 151 Rum, orange and pineapple juices, blue curaçao, midori and grenadine. Yo, Ho, Ho!!!
What it lacks in aesthetics (compared to the other secret menu drinks, anyhow), it makes up for with sweet deliciousness and terrific strength! Sometimes this one ends up a super muddy green color and looks completely like zombie skin (’cause, we all know what zombie skin looks like).
OK, so five drinks in we ordered up the “secret-ish” menu — three options that have been on the Cove Bar printed menu before as specialty drinks and that return from time to time.
The Midway Martini features Absolut Orient Apple Vodka, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, cranberry juice, organic agave nectar, and fresh lime juice.
This tart twist on a “crabapple” martini is given a slight hint of sweetness from the ginger liqueur, with emphasis on the word “slight.” It’s definitely more tart than sweet, so if you’re a sour fan like me, give it a go!
With the Melrose, strawberry puree and Rose Regale are what make this beauty stand out from the other Long Island variations.
The expected berry flavor from the strawberry puree certainly comes through, but it’s the Rose Regale that really gives this one a boost with its delicious sparkling wine flavor — a great choice for capping off an evening while watching World of Color.
Next up is the Sideshow Novel Tea…. at least, I think it is. All truths told, we were seven drinks in by the time we tried this one below, sooo… umm, yeah. If there are any Cove Bar masters out there who can let me know for sure, can you give me a shout? In the meantime, what is actually the Sideshow Novel Tea is a combination of Absolut Wild Tea Vodka, iced tea, strawberry puree, and fresh lemon juice. Buuuuuuuut, that’s not really what this looks like to me. So if you have any idea what I drank here, let me know. #FoodBloggerProblems
And, speaking of being on our eighth drink, we knew it was time to start soaking it all up. And, I promise you, Cove Bar offers some of the best bar food on the planet.
Specifically, there is one epically iconic bar food item that should probably be its own post here on DFB instead of getting overshadowed by the drinks above. But, alas, I wanted to tell you everything all at once!
Introducing the Cove Bar Lobster Nachos. Lobster is layered on top of fresh corn tortilla chips along with black beans, pico de gallo, serrano peppers, cilantro, chipotle crema, and jack and cheddar cheeses.
Seriously? I know.
Be aware, though, that the chipotle flavor definitely adds some spice and the serrano peppers kick it up yet another notch. But don’t let that deter you from giving these a try. If you think the spice might be too much for you, just request those on the side. But if you only eat one thing at Cove Bar, it should be this.
The rest of the food menu isn’t quite as iconic, but while we’re on a bit of a heat kick, let’s check out the Quesadilla Rolls. Four grilled flour tortillas are stuffed with chicken, onions, peppers, Monterey Jack cheese and avocado relish, then topped with guajillo sauce and the chipotle crema, taking them a step up from your regular quesadillas. The generous portion size also makes the rolls a great candidate for sharing.
The Trio of Tri-Tip Sliders serves up a variety with the Mojo Criollo Slider, Barbecue and Tangy Slaw Slider, and the Bacon, Arugula, and Blue Cheese Slider. They all share the same base of juicy, tender meat, and while the individual sliders are on the small side, the toppings are really flavorful and generously piled. I thought all of these were really delicious.
The Mojo Criollo with crispy onions delivers a Cuban flair with its hearty dose of garlic, and I love that crunch from the crispy onions.
The Barbecue and Tangy Slaw Slider presents a flavor-and-texture combo that we see a lot of these days (the Barbecue Slaw Dog at Casey’s Corner and Barbecue Pork Waffle Fries at Golden Oak Outpost come to mind). There’s a reason it keeps cropping up: sweet-and-spicy barbecue sauce serves a great contrast to tangy coleslaw in just about any setting.
Finally, the texture variation in the Bacon, Arugula and Blue Cheese Slider comes from the crispy bacon, which also lends a nice smokiness to complement the pepper of the arugula, while the strength of the blue cheese furthers the pop from the intense flavors.
All in all, it’s a good thing they have some pretty tasty noshes here to counter effect all the great drinks… especially now that you know about that secret menu!
…Seriously, though, somebody tell me what that eighth drink was.
Fun (and strong!) drinks, good grub, an in-the-know menu, and an unforgettable view. What’s not to love about the Cove Bar? If you find yourself on the west coast side of Disney things, you can’t miss the chance to put it #OnTheList!
Which secret menu drink at the Cove Bar would you like to try? Please let us know with a comment!