DRINK OF THE WEEK : CAFÉ BUENOS AIRES’ OJOS NEGROS


NIK BLASKOVICH PHOTO
Ted Mills
February 29, 2008 12:02 PM

Café Buenos Aires may have the smallest bar out of all the ones our mixology crew has seen. With room for just four people, we were lucky to get a seat there on the Wednesday night when we turned up. Our timing, as usual, was impeccable — a half hour later the regular Tango dancers from the Carrillo Recreation Center classes turned up and the restaurant space behind us was turned into a dance-floor filled with sensual, interlocking bodies. I’ll drink to that.
Now small doesn’t mean barely stocked — bartender Geoff (no last name given, but ask for him by name, he’s been here a year) rules over all sorts of liquors and alcohols. If you’re lucky and it’s a bit nippy outside, he’ll offer up some mulled wine, full of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices, kicked up with a little bit of brandy.
But Buenos Aires means cachaça and cachaça means caipirinha, the cocktail that gets easier to pronounce the more you drink it (that’s kai-per-ren-ya…). Yes, I know it’s the national drink of Brazil, but Argentina likes it too. Anyway, their national drink is matte, and that’s the opposite of a cocktail. Moving on…
Geoff’s caipirinha is subtle and full of the interplay of bruised mint leaves and sugar and lime juice. Like a mojito, the mint should be muddled with the ingredients, but it shouldn’t be smashed beyond recognition.
A few weeks past Valentine’s Day, and Geoff can still whip up a romantic, sweet drink. You can ask for the Sweet Tart anytime, really, but it is sweeter than tart. For something that’s a mix of green Sour Pucker and purple Chambord, along with vodka and sweet ‘n’ sour, it’s amazingly red. How does the color wheel work again? With a rim of sugar, this drink is cute, so serve it to somebody who is.
Our drink of the week, however, has to go to the Ojos Negros. This is one of the few whiskey-based cocktails that hides its liquor well; as Geoff sums up, it’s a mojito but with Jim Beam and orange juice. For those unsure whether they like whiskey, the Ojos Negros makes a great intro. For those who love whiskey, you may order one after the other until it’s time to tango.

OJOS NEGROS
1-1/2 oz. bourbon (Jim Beam recommended)
Fresh orange juice
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
Handful of fresh mint

In a Collins glass, gently muddle mint leaves, sugar, and lime juice, making sure the flavors coat the glass. Top up glass with ice, add bourbon and top with orange juice.

Café Buenos Aires
1316 State St.
963-0242
www.cafebuenosaires.com

©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

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