Bartender John Randolph moved to Goleta’s Holdren’s branch after years of serving at the Chase Bar and Grill downtown. Could that explain the garlands and festive fairy lights hanging from the dark wood beams and corners of this steak restaurant? Or is it just the time of the season . . . the time to explore some cocktails?
With its long bar, the Good Land Holdren’s shares many cocktails with its downtown location, but we make sure to hold off on all those drinks and focus on the newest of the new, the differentest of the different. Sequestered away in the cozy environment of the bar, where one can’t see the box maulings outside, we watch Randolph whip up some fancy drinks.
The first is an old standard, a martini, but with handstuffed blue cheese olives. It was the end of a long day for us mixologists, so the simplicity of the choice was appreciated. We weren’t looking for the sweet, but the slightly salty. The Dirty Martini, as one will find it on the menu, is made with Belvedere vodka and no mention of vermouth. Doesn’t that make it, er, a glass of vodka? I guess the olive juice will have to step in and do the work of the vine. And, yes, we liked it. I save my olives ’til last — others munch along the way.
Up next is an Espresso martini. We wonder if this will be sweet, but not to worry, Randolph tells us, this is just like having a cup of coffee. He’s right . . . except it’s more like a can, a can of Illy Caffe espresso. That small shot gets added to Van Gogh Espresso vodka, Bailey’s and cream, and all of that is garnished with espresso beans. It won’t keep you up, but it will keep you from ordering other drinks. Not sweet at all, the cocktail tastes like an ice coffee with a little somthin-somthin from a hip flask.
We finish up with the Key Lime Pie Martini, as it uses something new: the Ke Ke liqueur. This new drink in the white bottle comes out of Missouri, and, surprise, tastes like key lime, and looks like light green cream. It also tastes lovely. And, also appreciated, it doesn’t come out too sweet. The cocktail adds Absolut Vanilla, cream and pineapple juice, and comes with a gingerbread rim, but you wouldn’t really know you’re having a dessert drink. It’s smooth and creamy with a hint of citrus, and we would like to honor it as our Drink of the Week.
KEY LIME PIE MARTINI
1-1/2 ounce Absolut Vanilla
Splash of Ke Ke liqueur
Splash of half-and-half
1-1/2 ounce pineapple juice
Add all together over ice, stir and strain into martini glass with gingerbread crumble rim. Garnish with lime wedge.
6920 Marketplace Dr., Goleta