Ted Mills
February 1, 2008 10:41 AM

We like someone who rises to a challenge when our mixology tour pulls up at a freshly wiped down bar. And we love someone who goes above and beyond our expectations. So it was with Esther Rogers, who tends bar at Roy four nights a week. When we threw down our kindly gauntlet, Rogers took to it like a contestant on Iron Chef ? but with booze.
Rogers hails from Portland, but she’s been all over the American map presumably picking up mixology knowledge. Her most recent stint was in New Orleans, where she studied how to make a proper Sazerac among other beloved Big Easy cocktails. She knows her Rye Whiskey and when to use it. She’s picky about her bitters.
Like a good chef, she’s eyeing the fresh ingredients of the day, wondering if she can incorporate them. Our first example was her Clementine mojito, which took advantage of the fresh Clementines that had come in. Adding orange flower water to the usual mojito ingredients and turning to a citrus-based rum (Bacardi Limon), as well as garnishing the tall glass with speared Clementine segments, turned a regular mojito into something fresher. Some mojito-makers go heavy on the sugar, but not here.
Rogers no doubt wears the influence of her boss, Roy Gandy, who designs the menu, occasionally takes his turn in the kitchen and keeps an eye on local produce and meat for special dishes. The restaurant has been serving since 1994.
When we gave this the seal of approval, Rogers disappeared to work on the second cocktail with a foodie bend, and returned with a surprising Sugar Beet & Basil Martini. Blood red and garnished with ribbed slices of beet and basil, the drink looked like it would tend towards a Bloody Mary style flavor. Only it didn’t — light and sweet, but tempered with fresh lemon juice, the vodka-based martini didn’t overwhelm with a heavy vegetable flavor, nor did it shy away from it.
Near the end of our evening, Rogers was seen busy in the kitchen, which looks out over the bar, prepping something. We felt a bit guilty having a look, so we turned our backs and waited to be surprised.
The Chocolate Raspberry Mousse-tini would wrap up any meal. It’s a fine dessert drink, with a mix of Bailey’s, vodka, Aqua Perfecta, all in a martini glass, drizzled with a berry reduction sauce. The cute bonus was the garnish, several spoons of fresh whipped cream in an orange-leaf tube. Most excellent, we thought, as the creamy Bailey’s complemented the strength of the vodka.

1 part Absolut Razz
1 part Three Olives Chocolate Vodka
1 part Bailey’s Irish Crème
1/2 part Aqua Perfecta framboise
A dash of Kahlua
Strawberry reduction sauce
Whipped cream (unsweetened)
Orange leaves, washed and patted down

Prep garnish by rolling up leaves into a funnel and spearing one end shut with a toothpick. Whip the cream and fill the tube nearly to the top.
Prep martini glass by drizzling some strawberry reduction sauce around the inside of the glass. Use a squeeze bottle. Do not overdo.
Combine vodkas, Bailey’s, Aqua Perfecta, and Kahlua into a shaker, add ice, agitate, then strain very slowly into glass. Garnish with the leaf tube, sprinkle some cocoa powder on top of cream.

Restaurant Roy
7 W. Carrillo St.
966-5636, www.restaurantroy.com

©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

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