NIK BLASKOVICH PHOTO
February 22, 2008 11:33 AM
A few months ago we had thought of reviewing 31 West, the bar in Hotel Andalucia. But before the ink was dry on our list of watering holes, the place closed down. Suddenly, it was goodbye Hotel Andalucia and hello Hotel Canary, and by extension, goodbye 31 West and hello Coast.
For those who remember the old restaurant/bar layout, the Coast will surprise. There’s a more obvious division between lobby and restaurant, and the bar runs lengthwise upon entering, no longer at the far right corner. What feels like a mirrored wall is actually empty space looking out onto diners, Carrillo Street and beyond. No wonder we didn’t see our reflections ” for a second we worried we had become vampires “
Bartender Harry Congdon has been serving drinks here since the opening of 31 West, whereas his counterpart Jeff Shettler started his tenancy upon Coast’s opening in January, but has mixed at the Harbor, Dargan’s, and beyond. Both know how to whip up a fancy cocktail.
We started out with an espresso martini. There is a tendency in coffee cocktails to shy away from the innate bitterness of the bean by loading up with sweet additions, but Congdon played it quite close to a chilled espresso drink. The sweet came by way of Bailey’s, Godiva liqueur, Kahlua, and Absolut Vanilla. The espresso then balanced these out, allowing the flavor of the vodka to edge through.
A variation on the Lemon Drop came next, with a “crushed raspberry” spin. Delightful and pink, the cocktail starts off with muddled raspberries and lemon wedges where it meets sour mix and Absoluts Vanilla and Citron. The sourness again balances against the sugar around the rim of the glass. Neither sweet nor sour, the drink maintains its strong lemon identity.
Congdon made both these, leaving Shettler to finish us off with a real “dessert.” While the Coast offers plenty of such drinks on its menu (along with some yummy appetizers that almost — almost! — got delivered to us by mistake), Shettler went off menu to make us a Chocolate Orange Martini. Like his workmate, Shettler delivered a drink that toned down the potential sweetness and highlighted the flavors of the various alcohols. And so, with the recipe for our Drink of the Week, you can see what we mean.
CHOCOLATE ORANGE MARTINI
1-1/2 oz. Absolut Mandarin
1/2 oz. Bailey’s Irish Creme
3/4 oz. Godiva Liqueur
Mix together in a shaker over ice, strain into martini glass. Garnish with orange slice.
Coast Restaurant & Bar
31 W. Carrillo
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press