We predict that, in the not-too-distant future, Shark Week will be some sort of unofficial holiday. People get very excited about this week, at least in lip service, and there’s so many televisions in bars now, it begs the question: Why not have a week when we can raise our glasses in toast while footage of great whites spool behind us?
That was the impression we got, anyway, when we left Break Time, the hidden bar on Encina Road in Goleta. They were just coming off shark week, and we couldn’t help but notice the amount of plastic sharks hanging about. When we first visited Break Time a few years ago, the bar was about to be transferred to the daughter of the Michel family, Liz, after years in the family. Liz Michel still runs the place, along with husband Carl, and they’ve been making a fair go of it.
But they want to attract a younger crowd, and to do so they’ve designated Wednesdays as college nights, plus a special happy hour from 10 p.m. to midnight and includes free pool. The pool league still plays on Mondays, and the free popcorn machine still lays in wait, ready to go at any time.
“That’s always gonna be here,” assured Carl.
The drinks are mostly beer and wine here, but there are cocktails if you look. And ask.
Carl used to bartend back in the day before taking a long break, and has only recently started up again. So he made us a cocktail from his early days as a barkeep. The Call Girl was the one he designed for the ladies, with Stoli Strawberry, Southern Comfort, Peach Schnapps and a splash of OJ. There’s something to be said for Southern Comfort, and it’s this: It goes really well with Peach Schnapps. This made the drink an instant hit, and it soon disappeared down the ol’ gullet. Girls — call or not, watch out for this one.
The Pink Lemonade is another Break Time favorite, featuring Absolut Citron, Stoli Strawberry and two splashes of cranberry juice (for that pink look) and sweet-and-sour (for that citrus taste). Tart and refreshing, this is another cocktail that Break Time has ready to go. Will it help your pool game? Maybe not.
So, back to shark week for our final drink. Carl said he wanted something special for the week and set about working on a themed cocktail. The result is the “Blood on the Water,” a deep, deep blue drink with a drop of human blood? no, wait, that’s only grenadine. If the grenadine is warm enough, it will float on the surface like a freshly chomped swimmer. And the taste? With Stoli Blackberry and Blue Curaçao, and a hint of sweet-and-sour mix, it’s a guilty blast of berry and blueness. All that’s missing is a shark’s fin.
BLOOD ON THE WATER
2 parts Stoli Blackberry
1 part Blue Curaçao
1 part Sweet-and-sour
Dash of grenadine
5977 Encina Road