Now, we here at Drink of the Week hated to see El Taco Tequila Taqueria close. Despite having some awesome tacos, some of the hottest habanero salsa we’ve ever tried, and offering horchata with dark rum (for cheap!), they couldn’t make a go of it and closed earlier this year. What has opened in its place, American Ale, an extension of Union Ale on lower State, has been going gangbusters with its simple menu of burgers and fries, a long list of draft beers, and old-fashioned cocktails with a hipsterish twist. The burgers are pretty darn awesome, we agree, but DOTW returned a few days later to try the cocktails.
Tag: Cocktail Recipe
DRINK OF THE WEEK: Seven’s Desert oasis
When we first checked out Seven Bar & Kitchen in the ever funkier (and some would say drunkier) Funk Zone, it was the early days. Things were quiet in their location, but the gang hoped that things would pick up. To say they had picked up when we returned there one weekend ago would be understating it. To say, “Holy smokes, this place is overflowing with people and I can barely get to the bar or hear myself think!” would be more like it.
So, they’re doing well. When we did get to the bar, we met none other than Andy Davis, formerly of Relais de Paris and EOS, and lover of all things busy. He likes a bar that keeps him on his toes, and that’s Seven Bar.
DRINK OF THE WEEK: Red’s Lynchburg lemonade
Reds is full of new cocktails, new servers, and on the day we visited, about 200 times more people. It’s something to do with the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co./Seven Bar & Kitchen triangle that Reds has become part of.
Dana Walters, one of the original Funk Zoners, was slinging drinks along with two other bartenders and could barely come up for air. Much like The Bourbon Room in Goleta, Reds is now offering daily cocktail specials. This particular day was the Lynchburg Lemonade. The history of the drink goes back to Alabama of the 1980s as a mix of Jack Daniels, triple sec, sour mix and lemon-lime soda. But time, geography and a few lawsuits back at the Jack Daniels distillery have made Ms. Walters change it up — namely, forgoing all that syrupy mix for a simple batch of homemade lemonade, and using Benchmark bourbon instead of Jack Daniels. (You can always request the original ingredient, of course.) We like this streamlined version of a modern favorite. It’s our Drink of the Week.
Drink of the Week: The Bourbon Room’s Raspberry Mint Julep
Since we last checked out The Bourbon Room in Goleta, they’ve been taking in a steady stream of customers wanting to check out its Victorian drawing room vibe, its faithful recreation of Dean-o’s Pizzarama, its bitters club, and, of course, its cocktails. And they have a cool Instagram/Facebook thing going on if you can handle the intertubes. Mostly Anna Sacks and Al Rojas post pictures of their cocktail du jour; it took a full month of us getting all thirsty before we had to swing by and take a chance. Most drinks are bourbon by namesake, although the bartenders have been known to dip into tequila, vodka and the rest.
DRINK OF THE WEEK: Bo Henry’s The Gidget
A few months back, Palmieri’s quietly turned into Bo Henry’s Cocktail Lounge, keeping the only bar on the Westside open and creating many happy customers. The bartenders (lovingly called therapists on the bar’s Web page) have remained, including Phil Dybedal, who was ready to make us some cocktails of his own design. The decor inside, however, has changed. New owner Robert Eringer, Montecito resident, journalist (sometimes for this paper) and writer on all things international and skullduggery-like, has hung paintings around the bar, many by Thomas Van Stein, and decorated an alcove with a bust of Van Gogh. It’s a pretty idiosyncratic, writer-friendly, yet still pleasantly divey bar.
Mr. Dybedal’s drinks included the Tequila Mockingbird, a mix of Hornitos Tequila, Creme de Menthe and lime juice. He says the taste divides the bar 50-50, but we liked it — minty and not too sweet.
DRINK OF THE WEEK: Toma Restaurant & Bar’s Tuscan pear
When Emilio’s closed last year (at first for a rumored remodel) its fate seemed uncertain. But now it has reopened as Toma Restaurant & Bar, and regulars can breath easy: the restaurant has continued the Italian cuisine and widened out the restaurant a bit. This is all thanks to Tom Dolan, who spent many years working here and didn’t want to change too much. (Toma is Tom’s nickname.) The owners handed it off to Tom and his wife, Vicki, without too much of a fuss. And the nice thing? He kept Raul Alarcon as bartender, who has been making cocktails here for some time now.
Drink of the Week: El Encanto’s Rocket Gimlet
Where should you take your dear ol’ mom for Mother’s Day? If you really want to show her a good time and some great views of Santa Barbara, consider El Encanto, which has just re-opened after a major renovation.
The patio seems even bigger than before, the view remains exquisite and the bar … wait, they moved the bar? We had to go investigate the new cocktails and were met by bar manager Emre Balli and bartender Randy Brown, both of whom have a lot of experience under their belts, most recently at San Ysidro Ranch.
DRINK OF THE WEEK: Blush’s Barrel-Aged Manhattan
Roll out the barrel! We’ll have a barrel of fun! Or at least a barrel of bourbon!
Aging your own bourbon is all the rage these days, as we’ve seen at least three barrels in various locations around town. But as we were stopping by Blush Restaurant & Lounge, we got the scoop from them first.
Bar manager Chris Jow (pronounced “Joe,” but as he explained, the guy at Ellis Island all those generations ago couldn’t spell “Joh”) told us all about it. Their supplier buys the barrels, but you can also buy them on sites like 1000oaksbarrel.com. The idea is to build a cocktail inside the barrel, let it sit for two weeks, then bottle the results, which are oaky and peculiar in a good, woody way. Trouble is, Blush can barely keep the stuff on the shelf. When we turned up, there was only about one glass left and we had it.
DRINK OF THE WEEK: Seven Bar & Kitchen’s My bee’s keeper
We here at Drink of the Week always get excited when a new bar opens in town, even when it replaces a place we loved. We can’t do anything about rent, landlords, business models or whatever. We can just sidle up to the bar. So when The Pub closed its doors last year, we were bummed. (The “OMG Salad” was truly OMG.)
But Seven Bar & Kitchen has taken its place, keeping the same layout, the same red brick walls and a similar vibe. But instead of the split between wine bar and gay bar, Seven is just … all bar. And Ben Agnini, who started his bartending career in Boulder, is dedicating his time to delivering classic cocktails with a twist … the twist being this: If you have a favorite cocktail, and the bartenders can make it, it goes into Seven’s Little Black Book. And from then on, everybody can try it, like the first entry, the Afternoon in Berlin, a spin on the Kir Royale, with elderflower, ruby red grapefruit, bitters, Hangar 1 Mandarin Blossom Vodka and sparkling wine. Make your own wine at home and experiment what it would be like.
DRINK OF THE WEEK: Reds Bar & Tapas’ El Presidente
This drink debuted during Fiesta 2012 when Reds Bar & Tapas was packing them in, but once the nights got colder and Dana Walters started reducing hours, the El Presidente vanished off the menu.
On this particular day, it was windy but warm in the Funk Zone, the Urban Wine Trail tourists were off spelunking in tasting rooms, and summer felt nearby. Ms. Walters had even opened an extra day. And so the El Presidente was back on the menu at Reds, where we first tasted it during happy hour. We returned to grab the recipe and chat with Ms. Walters.