Over the years, happy bar patrons have affixed signed dollar bills to the ceiling of the Maverick Saloon with thumbtacks. And that’s not all: Look around and you’ll see hats, bras, panties and other unmentionables. Now that’s our kind of bar.
This Santa Ynez landmark has been slinging beers, whiskey and cocktails since 1963, and no doubt a trip over the hill was long overdue for the Drink of the Week crew.
Being welcomed for the first time was like being welcomed home at Maverick, and soon we were chatting with everybody. This is the local watering hole for many Santa Ynez residents, and it feels like it would be ours, too, if we lived here. One patron even lives in a room in the small complex next door to the parking lot. We like that — no worries about being pulled over when you can easily meander home.
Monique Nichols works here three nights a week and has for nearly four years, so she’s a regular, too. She’s happy to sample us some of her special drinks, so we pull up some stools and let her go wild.
The first is a Strawberry Lemon Drop, not the most surprising thing, with Smirnoff Citrus, triple sec, lemon juice, Sprite and strawberry puree. But we were surprised at how it tasted: clean, simple, fresh and no cloying sweetness. We were on to a winner here.
Then Nichols followed up with a Cucumber Basil Mojito, another muddled drink that perhaps more patrons should order in place of the usual beer and shot. The drink features Cruzan Rum, pureed cucumber, basil and mint, lime and simple syrup topped with some soda. It fizzes, it warms, it shoots, it scores. A good mojito, we all agree, and with the freshness of cucumber backing it all up.
But what about in the morning, after a rough night? Nichols has your answer, too. She insists we try her Bloody Mary. She mixes Seagrams, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, a dollop of horseradish, lime and olive juices, tomato, celery salt and loads of garnishes. And though we’ve seen those ingredients before, this bloody Mary is very smooth and tasty, all the way to the bottom of the glass. We’re won over. Not only do we make this our Drink of the Week, but we also stick our own dollar bill on the ceiling. If you happen to stop by Maverick, see if you can spot our handiwork.
MAVERICK BLOODY MARY
1 ½ ounces Seagrams Vodka
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
5 dashes Tabasco
¼ tablespoon horseradish
½ ounce olive juice
Dash celery salt
Squeeze of lime wedge
Rim glass with celery salt, kosher salt and pepper. Mix ingredients with ice in shaker. Pour into pint glass, garnish with pickled green beans, asparagus, olives and cocktail onions.
3687 Sagunto St., in Santa Ynez