NIK BLASKOVICH PHOTO
By Ted Mills
January 4, 2008 11:34 AM
This may sound like Freakonomics, but the busiest hour of The Study Hall on the 500 block of State Street is directly tied into the bus schedules. Between 10:30 and 11 p.m., the bar fills up with college kids coming in from Isla Vista on the last bus downtown. Perhaps some have already been in bars in I.V., and if so, they’ve probably been at the other Study Hall, which has been pouring drinks for 12 years.
But, okay, this was much earlier in the night, and the bar was quiet by comparison. Ten-year bartending vet Duane Jeter manned the bottles and shakers, and seemed thrilled to step aside from the usual chant of “jackandcoke” and whip up some concoctions for our adventurous palate. “Off the menu?” he asked when we suggested where to look. “We have no menu, so I guess everything’s off the menu.”
So, he whips up a Gaucho — a blue and yellow concoction designed to tap into fond feelings of current students and alumni of UCSB. School colors, represent! The yellow comes from a mix of Mandarin vodka, Triple sec and O.J., and the blue can be none other than Blue Curaçao. Very smooth and easy to down in one, which is the point, and the drink manages to keep its blue and yellow partition even when my partner sipped instead of chugged. The Gaucho, as Jeter pointed out, is a blue-added version of the Orange Crush, also known as the Midnight Mimosa. Just replace the blue with regular curaçao.
One of Jeter’s favorite opening cocktail gambits — those served to customers too rushed to decide but too thirsty to wait — was our favorite, the Fresca. Named after the soda, and served over a large amount of ice, the drink combines a vodka with sweet’n’sour mix and 7-Up.
Depending on the vodka used, Jeter tempers the flavor with another liquor — in our case some Bacardi Limon. Like the soda, the drink comes in many flavors, depending on the flavored vodka (Stoli or Absolut) Jeter chooses. For us, it was black cherry. Refreshing, strong but not sweet, this satisfying cocktail is our drink of the week.
FRESCA (one variation)
2 parts Stoli Black Cherry Vodka
2 parts Bacardi Limon
1 part sweet and sour mix
1 part 7-Up
Combine in shaker, agitate, serve over ice in lowball glass. Garnish with Maraschino cherry and orange slice.
The Study Hall
519 State St., 560-6550, www.thestudyhall.com
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press