DRINK OF THE WEEK: Mesa Cafe’s Caipirinha

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

By the time you read this, the finalists for the World Cup will be lined up, with only one last game to play in sunny Brazil. It was by chance, though, that we walked into the Mesa Cafe for lunch when the USA-Belgium game was going down and we realized that this restaurant bar is football — I mean, soccer! — mad. The servers and hosts were wearing USA jerseys in support (and before they got knocked out, Mexico jerseys too) to amp up the crowd that had come to watch and cheer. USA got eliminated, but the excitement is going to continue Saturday, and we are here to let you know that in honor of the World Cup’s hosts, the Mesa Cafe is offering caipirinhas for $6 each during the game and $3.75 16-ounce Bud Light in a special bottle.

We’ve talked about caipirinhas before, but here’s a refreshing refresher, courtesy of bar manager Caroline Saenz: lime juice, simple syrup and Sagatiba cachaça, aka Brazilian rum. Essentially, it’s like a margarita from the Southern Hemisphere, but without the burn of tequila; it’s smooth and sweet and the perfect way to indulge in this weekend’s game, no matter who you end up rooting for.

1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces cachaça (preferably Sagatiba)

Either muddle 2 lime wedges or use fresh lime juice. Combine juice, simple syrup and cachaça over ice, shake and pour into lowball glass. Garnish with lime and paper umbrella.

1972 Cliff Drive
966-5303 or www.mesacafesb.com

DRINK OF THE WEEK: Blind Tiger’s Buddha’s Hound

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

Ladies and gentlemen: The Savoy has left the building … and the Blind Tiger has moved in. The three-story space where Savoy used to exist is now Blind Tiger. That oval bar has gone and a more sensible long bar now runs along the right side. JT Thomas made us drinks, overseen by Leon Murray, the events director (and, full disclosure, an old friend), and things have changed to a more local, creative vibe.

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DRINK OF THE WEEK: Cadiz’s Red White and Blueberry Fizz

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

Hooray for the red, white and … blueberry? This week we turned to Cadiz’s bartender, Sean Sepulveda, who appreciates a challenge, for a new twist on July Fourth. For this, he decided to make a drink in a pilsner glass, but you could use a Collins glass in a pinch. He muddled some blueberries in the bottom of the glass, then made a middle foam out of the delicious liqueur Cocchi Americano, poured some sparkling wine on top — he uses Saint-Hilaire Brut, but any dry sparkling brut will do — and on top of that he added the red with some Peychaud’s bitters.

Mr. Sepulveda garnished the drink with sugared blueberries and orange twists but he suggests using a sparkler, a U.S. flag and the like, “because this is America! And freedom!”

That’s the spirit, Sean. You can do whatever you like this holiday — but we do recommend you try our Drink of the Week.

1 ounce blueberry puree (see recipe)
2 ounces Cocchi Americano semi-foam (see recipe)
2 ounces Saint-Hilaire Brutdry sparkling wine
4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

In pilsner glass, add blueberry puree to bottom, top with semi-foam carefully, gently add sparkling wine and top with bitters. Garnish with blueberries and orange twists.

To make blueberry puree, muddle 5-6 blueberries and a rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar/water ratio).

To make Cocchi Americano semi-foam: Combine 2 ounces Cocchi Americano (a liqueur), 1 ounce rich simple syrup and 1 ounce lemon juice. Chill and dry shake. Add ice when ready to use and shake again.

509 State St.
(805) 770-2760 or www.cadizsb.com


Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

Bartenders shuffle jobs often, and we were halfway through our introductions at Trattoria Vittoria when we realized we’d met our bartender before. Erica “Sparky” Sparks has a name you don’t forget, and we met her at Stella Mare last year. Because she once helped make drinks for a family gathering when she was a kid (and got tips!), Ms. Sparks likes to say she’s been bartending since she was 9 years old.

There’s so much on Trattoria Vittoria’s cocktail menu to go through, but one we really wanted to try was the Contorto Collins. Our main reason: Nobody orders Tom Collins (and variations) that much these days. It’s fallen out of fashion, taken over by its closest cousin, the gin and tonic. But the Contorto Collins replaces the lemon and sugar with apple schnapps and St. Germain, and soda water with tonic. If you love the elderflower taste, then this is the summer drink for you. It’s fruity and fresh and it’s also our Drink of the Week.

1 1/2 ounces gin (preferably Beefeater)
1/2 ounce DeKuyper Apple Pucker
1/2 ounce St. Germain liqueur
Squeeze lime juice
Tonic water, to top

Combine gin, Apple Pucker, St. Germain and lime juice over ice. Shake and pour into Collins glass filled with ice. Top with tonic. Garnish with lime wedge.

Trattoria Vittoria
30 E. Victoria St.
(805) 962-5014 or www.trattoriavittoria.com

DRINK OF THE WEEK: Relais de Paris’ St. Germain Champagne cocktail

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

Dustin Garnett has been tending bar for a few months at Relais de Paris after leaving The French Table and has one of those Horatio Alger tales of working hard – a dishwasher, then a busboy, then a server, then a bartender, and now a bartender with his eyes on his own place … one of these days. In the meantime, he’s busy during their happy hour (4 to 7 p.m.) and mixing up weekly (well, regular at least) cocktail specials, and that’s what we wanted to try: the St. Germain Champagne Cocktail.

It’s a very popular cocktail for summer, even with June Gloom in full effect, according to Mr. Garnett. It’s a mix of the elderflower liqueur known as St. Germain, grapefruit juice and a top of champagne (they use Michelle Brut). Simple, but the mix of tart and sweet, coupled with the bubbly, is just the right balance on the tongue. Even though it’s a weekly special, it’s not going anywhere as long as people are ordering it, so check out our Drink of the Week.

2 ounces St.Germain liqueur
Splash grapefruit juice
1 ounce Michelle Brut champagne

Mix St. Germain and juice over ice, shake and strain into cocktail glass. Top with champagne.

Relais de Paris
734 State St.
(805) 963-6077 or www.relaisdeparis-santabarbara.com

DRINK OF THE WEEK: The Press Room’s Bloody Mary

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

With Father’s Day around the corner, it’s always a good question: What makes a good cocktail for Dad? Are we talking about something manly? Something nostalgic? Something that smells like Old Spice? We here at Drink of the Week come from a background of our dads drinking beer and maybe a shot of Jameson, and that is far from the world of mixology. They may be old-fashioned, but they’ve probably never had an Old Fashioned. You know what I mean?

Anyway, a stop by The Press Room sorted it out. Chris Rodriguez, bartender here for many a year, has a drink that dads love, and one that he brought back from a stay in Austin, Texas. It’s simple but effective: Combine Guinness with a bloody mary. No, the stout does not replace the vodka in the usual recipe … it adds to it. And it magically takes the bite out of the vodka, while leaving the spice. How is such a thing possible? Mr. Rodriguez testifies to one girl calling up her dad to get him to come down and try the drink. (He did.) It’s also a cocktail that, once someone orders it, the rest of the bar suddenly wants to try. So, treat your father to this clever cocktail when you see him. No need to special order the drink at The Press Room: It’s just known as the Bloody Mary here.

3 ounces pepper-flavored vodka (preferably Absolut)
1 ounces tomato juice
Dash horseradish sauce
Dash salt
Dash celery salt 1/2 lime, squeezed
Dash pickle juice
1 1/2 ounces Guinness

Add ingredients except beer over ice in shaker. Top with beer, then shake. Pour contents into pint glass and garnish with pickled beans and olive.

15 E Ortega St.
(805) 963-8121

DRINK OF THE WEEK: Olio Crudo Bar’s Balsamic Martini

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

The Olio e Limone name continues to spread on its little corner of Victoria Street. At one point, it was only its namesake restaurant. Then it took over the space next door and started busting out delicious pizzas as Olio Pizzeria. And a few months ago, it moved into a third business on the other side of its door, now called Olio Crudo Bar. This place features small plates of seafood and meat and, most importantly (for us anyway), a lovely collection of cocktails designed by owners Elaine and Alberto Morello and prepared by bartender Tim Delaney. The focus here is on Italian-themed drinks, with a range of familiar and unfamiliar flavors.

We dived right in first with an Aperol Spritz, a simple aperitif of Aperol, prosecco and soda, and that whet our appetite for more. The Milano cocktail, very popular already, is the bar’s version of a Manhattan, with ri brand whiskey, Antica Formula Vermouth and Peychaud’s Bitters. The rye makes this as complex and as sweet as you’d want a classic whiskey cocktail. Moving on, we tried a favorite that’s also over at the original Olio e Limone, the Martini all’Olio, with drops of the family’s olive oil in the drink, as well as Stoli vodka, simple syrup, basil leaf and pink grapefruit juice. The result is smooth and basil-forward, and that oil is almost an afterthought.

Mr. Delaney, who was making all these drinks for us, kept the best for last, though: the Balsamic Martini. We’ve had drinks that mix balsamic with strawberry before, but nothing like this flavor sensation: Bacardi rum, strawberry puree, simple syrup and Bevivo Drinking Balsamic. Sweet and sour in one sip, on top of a fruity tongue. Immediately we knew this would be our Drink of the Week.

2 ounces Bacardi rum
1 ounce strawberry puree
1 ounce Bevivo Drinking Balsamic
3/4 ounce simple syrup

Combine ingredients in shaker over ice, shake and strain into coupe glass. Garnish with strawberry.

Olio Crudo Bar
11 W.Victoria St. 899-2699 or www.olioelimone.com/olio-crudo-bar

Drink of the Week: Milk & Honey’s Unbeetable

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

Milk & Honey is about to lose its “honey.” In other words, Lesley Wood, who helped start the business in 2006 along with Alcazar’s Alvarado Rojas, is moving on and out of Santa Barbara to San Diego. She’s been a nightly fixture at the restaurant/bar since December 2006, when she was busy wearing overalls and painting the walls a deep red right before they opened. (Since Milk & Honey’s opening, however, she’s traded in work clothes for black dresses.)

She’s also responsible for a lot of the drinks on the menu, and we’ve tried a few over the years. For our last visit with Lesley, we called up a recent drink we ordered a month or two ago outside our Drink of the Week working hours.

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DRINK OF THE WEEK: Bistro 1111’s White Cranberry Cosmopolitan

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

It was yet another lovely balmy spring day in Santa Barbara — or was it a summer day? We can’t tell anymore. But we took another leisurely bike ride down Cabrillo. This time we parked ourselves outside Bistro 1111, part of the Hyatt hotel, and a place where we once did a Drink of the Week some time ago. The bar is about to undergo some major renovations, and they sound great. Its current location near the corner of Ninos Drive and Cabrillo will move farther down to the pool, offering an oval bar that both looks out to the restaurant and over the deep end, depending on what side you choose. What should one order when celebrating the remodel (coming soon, but you can drink it now!)? Well, after a liquor rep stocked the bar with new alcohols, including Finlandia’s line of flavored vodkas, we recommend the White Cranberry Cosmopolitan.

How is this possible? Well, Ocean Spray makes a line of clear cranberry, and Finlandia makes a cranberry-flavored vodka, and so … you can see where this is going. Add a dash of lime, some triple sec, and you get what bartender Joel Alva tells us was all they made one recent night during a wedding reception. You can see the bridesmaids ordering one after the other: the cocktail tastes like an energy drink like Gatorade … only this one packs a vodka punch. It’s our Drink of the Week.

2 ounces Finlandia cranberry vodka
1 ounce triple sec
3 ounces Ocean Spray White Cranberry
Dash lime

Combine all ingredients over ice in a shaker, shake and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wedge.

Bistro 1111
1111 E. Cabrillo Blvd.
(805) 730-1111