If your mission is to lounge with a thirst-quenching beverage in comfort and style, then the one stop you should make this fall is at the Mission Lounge at Hotel Mission de Oro, Santa Nella. The unique, upscale sports lounge is sure to have something for the traveler or locals in the 209.
The full service bar is open to hotel guests, locals, and those passing by on I-5 and Highway 33. Director of Sales, Shannon Cook, shared that the renovated mission was built in 1974 and is a replica of a mission from the original owner’s father’s hometown in Tepoztlan in Morelos Mexico.
Although the hotel has been through a handful of owners and had become a bit rundown, Chris Rufer purchased it six years ago and gutted the entire building wing by wing.
“He’s got a vision,” said Cook. “He thought we could really have this beautiful oasis on I-5. People travel through here all the time looking for somewhere nice to stay. We do have a lot to offer out here. The restaurant and the bar have been completely gutted out and we renovated everything.”
They host weddings, anniversaries, celebrations and since they are in close proximity to the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery, they host several gatherings for families of service members.
Prior to COVID they also had special nights like Mule Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Whiskey Wednesdays and Thirsty Thursdays that featured the beers on tap along with live music and Karaoke, which they hope to get back to soon.
They have a wine room that is temperature controlled with approximately 1,800 wines. The wine room is adjacent to an event room that will eventually open for wine tasting. They have a wine museum and artifacts from the 1800s and the 1900s. The bar has 10 TV screens, shuffleboard, and a pool table along with a truly classy lounge with leather chairs, couches and fine art to look at while enjoying a tasty libation.
Along with their lavish craft cocktail menu, Lead Bartender Stephanie Sorenson creates a featured drink each weekend that guests look forward to coming in to try.
“She has some pretty great things that she comes up with,” added Cook about Sorenson’s creations. “She has taken the initiative and is rolling with the punches.”
Sorenson has been bartending for four years and she has been at the Mission Lounge since May of this year.
“I love it,” stated Sorenson about bartending at Mission Lounge. “It is a completely different experience. I would rather be well rounded in bars and figure out the different scenes. Their craft cocktails are pretty amazing. They are really outstanding.”
The Jalapeño Pineapple Margarita is a top seller that is made with a silver Tequila, Jalapeño Margarita Mix, lime, and pineapple juice, garnished with fresh pineapple, sliced jalapenos and the glass rimmed with Tajin. Although it has a bit of a spicy kick the combination is delightful and, according to Sorenson, it flies off the shelves all weekend long.
They have 18 beers on tap like Nitro Merlin, Modelo, 805, Lagunitas IPA, and a few local options from Dust Bowl like Taco Truck and Hops of Wrath.
In the fall guests may prefer something a bit warmer like a tasting of the three different whiskey flights, the Japanese, Special Reserve, and Premium that are also year round customer favorites.
Another top seller at the Lounge is the Triple Berry Bliss that is made with fresh berries, a strawberry puree, lemonade, sweet and sour that is muddled together creating a juice, vodka, and a press that is served in a small fish bowl. The juice is premade daily.
A new cocktail creation that has a really pretty presentation has vodka with whole berries not muddled and topped with edible flowers. It is tasty; a true berry bouquet in a glass.
Sorenson shared that it is true that a bartender is also a therapist and she has enjoyed mastering the skills of making drinks and having an in-depth conversation with her customers. Highlights for her have been meeting new people and the experience she is getting at the Mission Lounge.
“I have never seen so many people traveling,” said Sorenson. “They really take care of their staff here and they give you adequate training. They want you to evolve and succeed. They are really into keeping their staff happy.”
There have been people from all over that have pulled up a seat at the Mission Lounge like from Washington, Oregon, Canada and as far away as Ireland.
“I meet a lot of veterans,” she said. “We are close to the cemetery. They tell me their stories. I really like listening. We get a lot of interesting people in here.”
With the Kitchen at the Mission right next door, guests can enjoy amazing food and a comfortable relaxed environment with a variety of beverages at the Mission Lounge.
“I get a lot of people say this is not what they were expecting and that they will be back here because they love the atmosphere,” expressed Sorenson. “It is a hidden gem.”