Marmalade Café’s Regatta

Nik Blaskovich Photo
Nik Blaskovich Photo

The Marmalade Café took over the former Red Robin in La Cumbre Plaza over two years ago. Two years! Time has flown, as we here in mixology central are only just now getting around to checking out the bar that sits in the middle of the café like a rugby scrum. Let’s get this done, we said, in our own little huddle.

Bartender Kristian Nelson has been here since they opened, but he also slings drinks at the Shoreline Café (a place we shall be shortly looking at, so keep posted). Both places are a switch from the complete hectic schedule of Wildcat, where he really learned his trade.

At Marmalade, the list is fixed (although about to change), and the cocktail choice limited to around 20. But that’s enough for us.

We started off with a perfectly fine Raspberry Lemon Drop, a mix of Stoli Raspberry, Chambord and fresh-made lemonade. Not surprising, this smooth cocktail is one of the restaurant’s most popular, its sugar rim making the medicine go down even faster than usual.

(If you do sit at the bar, you can take advantage of the happy hour menu. Half-priced appetizers, $5 well cocktails, $5 wine specials, $1 off beers. All between 3 and 7 p.m.)

Nelson has made many mojitos over at the Shoreline, and he continues that tradition here. It’s a hurricane glass full of goodness — tart and fizzy — with Bacardi, homemade simple syrup, fresh mint and lime, and splashes of 7-Up and soda. Not as minty as other mojitos, and not as soda-based, sitting right in the middle of the mojito spectrum.

The Regatta marks the second time in the last few months we’ve had a drink based around rum and tonic. Here, Nelson uses the velvety and golden Mount Gay rum, along with tonic water and two lime squeezes. The drink, served in a lowball glass, looks straight out of the back pages of Playboy Magazine, circa 1970. Translation: a classic, boozy cocktail. We liked it very much, the rum making a nice counterpoint to the tart tonic.

There’s a few dessert drinks on the menu, so we decided to finish with one of them. Nelson chose the Chocolate Raspberry martini, which is exactly what it says on the label. Nelson front loads it with a lotta chocolate: Godiva liqueur along with light and dark crème de cacao. On top of that, Nelson adds Stoli Raspberry and whipped cream. He also adds a splash of soda, because, he says, something has to cut all that alcohol. Indeed. It’s a heady brew, but easily drunk. And so might you be.

But we kept coming back to the Regatta. It’s refreshing and sophisticated, and currently a rare thing on menus. We’ve made it our Drink of the Week.

1 -1/2 ounces Mount Gay rum
2 lime wedges
Tonic water

In lowball glass filled with ice, add rum and squeeze lime wedges. Add wedges to glass. Top with tonic and stir.

3825 State St.
(805) 682-5246

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