Tre Lune on Coast Village Road offers Italian food, Italian wine, Italian(ish) photos on the walls…but would it serve Italian cocktails? We drove over at early dinner time last week to check out this very small bar in a very busy restaurant. Behind the bar we ran into several people we knew already. One was a former neighbor of mine. Another was Gabriel, who we had just met a few weeks ago at Las Aves. Another was Steven Goularte, who we swear has made us a cocktail before, but where, oh, where?
Patrick Rathbun and Goularte tag-teamed the bar for our sampling of cocktails, and we enjoyed watching them dance around each other while making various drinks and dodging the other servers coming in for orders.
Every day’s menu has a special cocktail on it, and the day we were there, the offering was the Cucumber Mint Ginger Martini. Though the title lists the ingredients, the flavors come from unexpected sources. The cucumber comes from Crop Cucumber Vodka, and Skyy Ginger Vodka provides the ginger. The mint, however, is fresh and muddled with simple syrup and grapefruit juice. The resulting drink, in its plunging martini glass, is high in the grapefruit flavor and forward with the mint, with a delightful cucumber fragrance hovering over the glass. The ginger was hard to make out, but we still liked it.
Goularte made us an Italian Mojito, which matches the flavors of a traditional mojito with more “Italian” ingredients, while also mimicking the colors of the Italian flag. Basil replaces mint, strawberries replace the sugar, and lemon replaces the lime. Instead of rum, they use cachaÁa, and soda water tops it off. Now, this is a very chunky drink, so we recommend either sipping it or staggering two straws to get the liquid up. It’s a mass of flavors and looks more like sangria than a mojito. This would be one for a hot day.
A more traditional cocktail is the Negroni, a mix of Campari, gin and sweet vermouth. Rathbun uses Hendrick’s Gin, which once again proves to be the best choice. Floral and multilayered, the Hendrick’s complicates the Campari’s bitterness and boosts the sweetness of the vermouth. This is a drink to savor and savor again.
We ended with an Old Fashioned, made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, simple syrup, club soda, muddled oranges and cherries. It was a nice, rounded finish to our sampler, but we kept thinking back to that Negroni. That desire for another cocktail, red and delicious, is what made it our Drink of the Week.
1-1/2 ounces Hendrick’s Gin
1-1/2 ounces Campari
3/4 ounce Martini Red Vermouth
1151 Coast Village Road, in Montecito