Drink of the Week: Apero’s Smoking Bulliet

NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS
NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS

Lower State Street giveth and it taketh away: Apéro opened last week downtown in the spot formerly known as Verdé, formerly known as Zia Cafe. Yes, we know, Verdé wasn’t even here a year and now it’s toast. Santa Barbara is a harsh mistress for those in the restaurant trade. But Anthony Van Daele has been thinking of his idea for a while and hopes that his Western European tapas and appetizers way of thinking, coupled with an open-late bar on State Street, will bring in those wanting a late-night bite but not wanting to go clubbing.

We grooved on this idea — State Street kinda needs it — and were impressed that not only was there a cocktail list, but it was three pages long, and was ready to go on opening day. Ex-El Encanto bartender Travis Faker worked with Anthony and his wife, Jade, on the menu, and there’s a nice bit of experimentation going on. He’s got a special cloves, ginger, allspice and cinnamon simple syrup ready for various drinks, including the tasty Channel Island Chum, a variation on the margarita. There’s a champagne cocktail (one of many) called the Razz-Mary, a combo of raspberries and rosemary in a mix of St. Germain and Segura Viudas Brut — very aromatic to smell, maybe not as impressive to taste; and a fruity vodka drink called the Estella, with a hearty amount of strawberry and mint.

But our absolute favorite was the Smoking Bulleit , a simple rye and Benedictine drink served in a glass that’s been sitting in spicy smoke for minutes. It was a true “campfire” cocktail as every sip smelled lovely and smoky. This is most probably going to be Apéro’s claim to fame, so it’s our Drink of the Week.

SMOKING BULLEIT
Cloves and 1 cinnamon stick for smoking
1 1/2 ounces Bulleit Rye whiskey
3/4 ounce Benedictine
3/4 ounce sherry (preferably Fairbanks)

On a plate, light several cloves and 1 cinnamon stick on fire. When smoking, place brandy glass over smoke, but leave a gap for air. (The cinnamon stick works as a good prop.) Meanwhile, stir rye, Benedictine and sherry with ice, then strain into the now upright brandy glass.

APERO
532 State St. 560-7333 or www.aperosb.com

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