Arch Rock Fish’s El Presidio

Nik Blaskovich/News-Press
Nik Blaskovich/News-Press

Having survived Mel’s last week, we decided to check out another “neighborhood joint,” one with that very phrase blazoned across its sign. Arch Rock Fish (say that 10 times fast) spent a lot of the summer promising to open, and it just made it. Located in the former space of Melting Pot, this is a local endeavor, with menus designed by Scott Leibfried and, most importantly, drinks designed by Mike Anderson, the mixologist behind Marquee.

The theme here is local favorites, and the menu drops locations, some well known and others rare, including the Arch Rock of the title, part of Santa Cruz Island. The menu has its fair share of “place” names.

The El Presidio introduces two fruits together, the pear and the grapefruit, and finds they get along like old friends. Absolut Pear greets the tongue up front, but later the slight sour grapefruit finishes the introduction, aided by St. Germain, fresh lemon juice and honey simple syrup. This is the kind of flavor crash we expect from Anderson, and one we think you need to check out.

The Red Rock mixes Maker’s Mark with blackberries, lemon and cranberry for a fruity cocktail that uses this particular bourbon’s sweetness to its full advantage. We’re not too sure this would work with any other bourbon, which might overpower the drink or be too watered down for the juices. So here we are, stuck in the middle with Maker’s.

Anderson suggests we try the Spicy Coyote, which also has a “female” cousin, the Lolita Rita cocktail. The Spicy Coyote uses Pa’qui Reposado tequila — not a common sight around bars at the moment — Grand Marnier, fresh lime, cilantro, pressed jalapeño and agave syrup. The drink is essentially a margarita with cilantro and jalapeño, and it’s not as spicy as one might think. But the cilantro certainly steals the show from the very smooth tequila.

We end with a coffee to send us out… a Buena Vista Irish Coffee. The drink comes straight from the Buena Vista Café on Hyde Street in San Francisco, where Anderson found himself one day. He and his friends fell in love with the mix of hot coffee and Tillamore Dew Irish Whiskey so much that not only did one person drink 13 of them in one sitting, but Anderson also brought back the original glasses for us to try. The smaller, snifter-style glasses are delicate, and the whipped cream on top mixes with the drink only during sipping.

Arch Rock Fish promises much more on the cocktail menu, and Anderson did not disappoint. We shall return to this aforementioned “joint.” Until then, enjoy our Drink of the Week, the El Presidio.

2 ounces Absolut Pear
½ ounce St. Germain
1 ounce oz. fresh pink grapefruit juice
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce honey simple syrup

(To make simple syrup, bring one cup of sugar to one cup of water and heat. Add ½ cup of honey to taste.)

Combine all over ice, shake and strain into martini glass. Garnish with mini orchid flower and grated nutmeg.

608 Anacapa St.
(805) 845-2800

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