Ted Mills
April 25, 2008 11:41 AM
Way back in the mists of political time, The Nugget in Summerland received a visit from Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton and entourage, which put this wood-paneled restaurant on the local news for a while. T-shirts were sold, as were burgers. Bill may never have returned, but faithful locals have, for years and years, since the restaurant opened its doors in 1960.
Our mixologist entourage may not have a Secret Service detail, but we did enjoy the attention of bartender Wendy Sanders when we dropped in to sample the full bar section of The Nugget. The Clinton burger may have come and gone, but The Nugget’s Bloody Caesar remains on the menu. It’s a brunch favorite (and some say hangover cure) that fans swear by, substituting the garden variety tomato juice with Clamato, and — here’s the odd bit of trivia — remains a popular cocktail in Canada.
The Nugget’s secret is the marinated vodka used in the drink — a week of infusing red, green, and jalapeño peppers in the alcohol produces a spicy base. Along with the usual Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco, Sanders adds balsamic vinegar to the mix. Celery salt lines the rim and a marinated green bean joins the celery stalk. It was not as spicy as one might think, but the pepper taste remained long in the mouth.
The Nugget also has a tradition of serving up martinis in pint glasses and letting the customer use the Hawthorn strainer themselves to pour into the traditional Martini glass. This way, the customer gets two strong drinks for the price of one (and probably winds up drinking them faster too). Sanders, who has been serving since last October, made us one from Chopin vodka, with both an onion and an olive for garnish. Very strong, it was.
In the same vein, Sanders introduced us to the drink that she had been working on for a week, the Parasol. Like its cousins the Sea Breeze and Bay Breeze, the Parasol was born when her friend wanted a light vodka drink (the name, she says, comes from Mary Poppins). With two fruit juices, one to add color, and Triple Sec for more citrus flavor, the Parasol was light and summery. But as a fellow fan down the end of the bar remarked, “it sneaks up on ya!”
For being such a graceful host, Wendy and her concoction get the Drink of the Week.


3 oz. Grey Goose vodka
1/2 oz. Pineapple juice
1/2 oz. Cranberry juice
splash of Triple Sec
Mix ingredients in shaker over ice and strain into martini glass. Garnish with lime.
The Nugget
2318 Lillie Ave., Summerland

©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

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