We’ve always loved Dawn O’Brien’s bars — the Mercury Lounge in Goleta and Elsie’s in Santa Barbara, which she has since sold, not that it looks any different. But DOTW has never been able to cover them because of their lack of hard liquor n’ cocktails.
That has changed, sometime back in July, with the opening of The Imperial, in the location once held by the Bak-Dor. And Ms. O’Brien has brought her own funky style to the remodel. There’s the tiki vibe, the low golden brown lighting, and the extensive vinyl selection, from Blue Note jazz to modern pop.
We’ll be back later to try a whole slew of cocktails — and to play some records! — but for now, as Thanksgiving is coming up, we’re focusing on the Pumpkin Pie. The trick here is that it features no pumpkin in the mix, but tastes very much like one. This comes from two simple syrups. First, there’s a persimmon and clove syrup, which brings in the spicy flavors of fall. (And persimmons are all over Santa Barbara right now). Then a fennel simple syrup brings a bit of anise to the proceedings. Add this to Templeton Rye whiskey and a cinnamon-sugar rim, and you have a drink that can pair well with a traditional meal. It’s sweet but never syrupy, mature and spicy in the warm, snuggly, fireplace way. It takes some preparation, but hey, so does turkey!
2 ounces Templeton Rye whiskey
1/4 ounce persimmon and clove simple syrup (see recipe)
1/4 ounce fennel simple syrup (see recipe)
Combine rye and syrups over ice, shake and strain into cocktail glass rimmed with cinnamon-sugar. Garnish with persimmon slice.
Yield: 1 drink
Persimmon and clove simple syrup: Simmer 1 segmented, ripe persimmon, 1 teaspoon cloves and 1 cup sugar in 2 cups water for 5 minutes. Strain and cool.
Fennel simple syrup: Simmer tops of fennel plant, not the bulb, with 1 cup sugar in 2 cups water. Strain and cool.
320 S. Kellogg Ave., Goleta 964-7062