Torc gets liquor license; cocktails en route

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By Carey Sweet

Since Torc opened in downtown Napa almost exactly a year ago, there’s been one thing missing from the global-influenced contemporary American restaurant: liquor.

Diners enjoy dinner at Torc in Napa, Calif., on Thursday, March 13th, 2014.

Photo: The Chronicle/John Storey

There was (and is) a wine list, with about 70 regular labels and 60 library offerings, but anyone craving a Negroni was out of luck.

Now, chef-owner Sean O’Toole has secured all the proper paperwork, hired a bartender, and is rolling out cocktails. And that is yes, a bartender, not a mixologist, new teammate Corey Harrison wants us to know. While Harrison is putting together interesting drinks, he is eschewing the modern beverage approach that he feels tends to get overly complicated.

“A few years ago, I started seeing so many cocktails that had nine ingredients, and six of those, I didn’t know what they were,” he said. “I’m supposed to be fairly knowledgeable about drinks, but if I’m baffled, I wonder what the regular drinking public thinks.”

Instead, Harrison is mixing up approachable quaffs like the Careless Whisper of vodka, grapefruit, tarragon, lime and Aperol. There’s still room for twists – the Torc Winter Old Fashioned, for example is made with Templeton rye, blood orange, star anise, and Old Fashioned and Creole bitters. Spirits are always premium, and local as much as possible.

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