James Stevenson and Natalie Migliarini are no strangers to finding great cocktails in unexpected places. The Beautiful Booze content creators spend the bulk of their time traveling the globe in search of the best drinks and pairings to eagerly share with their followers.
When Stevenson took a recent trip along Highway 49 through California's Gold Country, he found something sippable around almost every turn.
1. What were the top 3 highlights of your trip along Highway 49?
Highlight No. 1 is the easiest—driving into Yosemite National Park and seeing all the majestic waterfalls and mountains surround us was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences of my life. Sipping a delicious cocktail at the Ahwahnee Hotel watching the sunset really topped it off.
The second highlight was The Elderberry House Restaurant. It was my favorite culinary stop in California, as it was such a unique experience. I try not to go into any places with pre-conceived notions, so arriving at The Elderberry House Restaurant, discovering the Cellar Bar, and enjoying such a fabulous meal was a pleasant surprise.
After these two it's so hard to pick just one highlight. When you visit places like Ficklin Vineyards, the Pines Resort, Servente's Saloon & Market, or even dine with food prepared from Eric Davis, you really can't pick a favorite. So my third highlight has to be a combination. If I could start my evening with a martini at Servente's Saloon, have dinner with Eric Davis, enjoy some port from Ficklin and sleep it all off at the Pines, I think I would be very content.
2. You tasted coffee, wine, olive oil, and more along the way—what were a few standouts?
All the experiences were above and beyond, however, the standouts would have to have been the trout dinner at the Mountain Moon Restaurant, the lemon olive oil by Ed Rich and Calaveras Olive Oil, the style and vibe at Servente's Saloon and Market, and the Idle Hour Winery's 2017 Tannat.
3. Did you learn anything new about Gold Country along the way?
I will admit, as an Australian, I wasn't very familiar with the region and the deep history, so it was absolutely amazing to see it all for the first time and speak with the locals and producers about their personal experiences—particularly walking around Sonora and learning all about the heart of the Gold Rush and the lifestyles of the separate communities from all around the globe.
4. Who would you recommend this road trip to and why?
I would recommend a trip like this to any history buff or adventurous foodie. Traveling around different towns and stopping at random restaurants to discover the hidden gems off Highway 49 would be a great way to spend a few days or even a week (splurging occasionally along the way of course).
5. What’s the one social media post or photo that best sums up your trip?
I think sitting at the Ahwahnee Hotel and sipping a Rye Old Fashioned while watching the sunset summed things up pretty amazingly. Does it get any better than that?
6. What tips or recommendations do you have for someone wanting to replicate your experience?
If you have the time, spend more time in Yosemite National Park. All along Highway 49, take the time to slow down and take in everything along the way. Don't have a solid itinerary that has you rushing from experience to experience as you will find some you need to spend more time exploring and some you can get in and out really quickly.