We were flying out to Vegas by way of L.A. when we took a quick trip up to Santa Barbara Airport’s Overlook Café for a coffee. And that’s when we spotted the bar. Of course! Why wouldn’t there be a bar at the airport … just keep the pilots away from it! So on our way back from Sin City (short review: weak cocktails, strong prices) we checked in our mixologist bags at the Overlook and met our bartender Joe Cruz, who’s been pouring 16 years here. If you have stopped in on your way out, Joe probably served you.
Yes, the bar is small (five seats) and has a tiny selection of bottles. Serving those who are just biding their time (the short-term parking prices don’t invite regulars), we were still pleased. The Overlook could just offer a standard selection of drinks, but there is a margarita here that won’t disappoint. But Cruz likes to fiddle about in the recipe department and offers specials for those who want to try his work.
Back to the margarita briefly. There’s enough Cuervo Gold in this for several Steely Dan solos, and all in a salt-rimmed pint glass. This is a party-starts-here kind of drink, and made the bar collectively bemoan the loss of those direct flights to Vegas. Remember those?
But onward to the cocktails.
The High Voltage uses good ol’ Cutty Sark, the light-colored whiskey, and also triple sec and sweet-and-sour. So, a margarita with blended Scotch, we guessed. The whiskey battles the citrus flavors and the judges call it a tie. It also looks rather pretty and goes down smooth.
But not as smooth as our final selection, the Wild Turkey Cosmo.
Wild Turkey has a recent offshoot called American Honey, which adds the sweet stuff to the bourbon to make a very smooth drink all by itself. Add a little triple sec and cranberry juice, and you have something far from the usual Cosmo. There’s very little in the citrus department, but a lot in the hive. Call this drink the bees knees. Or call it the Drink of the Week.
WILD TRUKEY COSMO
1 shot Wild Turkey American Honey
1/2 shot Triple Sec
Fill shaker with ice. Add bourbon and triple sec. Top with cranberry juice and shake. Strain into martini glass, garnish with maraschino cherry.
Santa Barbara Airport, Upstairs