NIK BLASKOVICH PHOTO
February 15, 2008 12:54 PM
Our mixology crew has many magical powers. We can tell Cointreau from Triple Sec and Whiskey from Bourbon. We have ways of making bartenders talk. But we didn’t know we had the power of serendipity until our mix-assistant suggested we take in the Ty Lounge at the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort, and we arrived to find ourselves on opening night of a brand new cocktail promotion. It was our lucky night, but apparently if you turn up between 5:30 and 8 p.m. on a Wednesday for the next three months, it can be yours, too.
The “Cocktail Flight Nights” offer three mini cocktails for $12, all highlighting a different spirit each week. Like what you taste? Order the full drink and get 50 percent off, plus free hors d’oeuvres. As we like a bargain (i.e. we’re cheap), that sounds like a deal. On this night, the special was Chopin Vodka. Despite our coming off a week of drinking gratis Chopin at Santa Barbara International Film Festival parties, we indulged. In a little wooden holder stood three fluted shot glasses: a Pomtini (Chopin, Grand Marnier, pomegranate juice), a Pear Drop (Chopin, Cointreau, fresh pear juice) and a White Grape Delight (Chopin, Chambord, white grape juice). Created by Bar Manager Sarah Latta, the Flight Nights intend to bring a wine-tasting sensibility to cocktails and to developing the palate, she says. Latta has been managing the Lounge since November — previously she was at Elements. Of the three we tried, our gang voted the Pear Drop the best. Latta’s weekly event may continue beyond its initial three month installment, but for now the menu is set.
But we also had history in mind, and this is the famous Biltmore after all, home to the rich and famous long before Fess Parker had even seen a raccoon hat. Bartender Pedro Rivera has served his share of celebs and stars and counts among his proudest moments the time he tended bar right across from Mikhail Gorbachev. Rivera’s been here since 1985, but knows cocktails are older than that. The Whale Watcher is a meditation on a MaiTai, with a mix of rums and Crème de Banana, and a Coral Casino favorite. When guests spotted a whale, they got this very large drink. If you didn’t see a whale ” you might do so after one of these. Plus, Rivera made us both versions — the original from back in the day, which is light on the grenadine and the newer, sweeter version. The result from our crew? Old wins, 2-to-1.
The Ty Lounge also makes its own infused tequila, with a heavy citrus blend. This then goes into every Santa Barbara Margarita, giving it a sharp spin that gets counterbalanced by the Cointreau.
Every month, a special cocktail is featured on the menu, so we made sure to try February’s concoction, which is pink and sweet. Rivera was happy to share the recipe with us and says, even in March, he’ll be glad to make it for you.
1-1/2 oz. Effen Raspberry Vodka
1-1/2 oz. Stoli Vanilla Vodka
Splash of Chambord
A touch of heavy whipping cream
Combine vodka and Chambord in shaker over ice and agitate, stir in heavy whipping cream, then strain into martini glass. Top with fresh raspberries.
Ty Lounge, at Four Seasons Biltmore Resort
1260 Channel Dr., Montecito
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press