Drink of the Week: Reds Bin 211’s Tipsy Jalapeño

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

Yes, there is a certain art in making a cocktail … but what about cocktail-themed art? In a Funk Zone collaboration between Reds Bin 211, Ian Cutler’s distillery across the street, and a selection of local artists, the exhibition “Spirits: The Art of Distillation” is exactly what makes the Funk Zone so funky: It’s a mix of people who all care about their craft. Now this column isn’t an art review, so I’ll let you go check the works by Dan Levin, Lindsey Ross and even Reds owner Dana Walters yourself. But as long as the exhibit is up (through Sept. 7), Reds is offering cocktails designed to show off Cutler’s vodka (with proceeds going to The Arts Fund). We decided to try the Tipsy Jalapeño, which uses Cutler’s vodka, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, grapefruit bitters and a ginger-jalapeño simple syrup. Spicy, right? Not really — the grapefruit takes the heat away but leaves the earthy pepper taste. And Cutler’s vodka is smooth to start, so the whole thing wraps up like a nice present of citrus and spice.

And while you’re there at Reds, look up at the bar’s high walls … those two large projection screens are showing video art, close-ups of the distillation process and its final outcome — vodka on the rocks. The videos are by Drink of the Week photographer Nik Blaskovich, so come check it out!


1 1/2 ounces Cutler’s vodka
1 splash grapefruit juice
1 splash lemon juice
2 dashes Fee’s Grapefruit Bitters
1 squeeze ginger-jalapeño simple syrup (see instructions)
1 rosemary sprig, for garnish

Combine vodka, juices, bitters and syrup over ice, shake and strain into lowball glass filled with ice. Garnish with rosemary sprig.

To make the ginger-jalapeño syrup: simmer 3-4 slices ginger and 5-6 slices jalapeño (both shaped like rounds) in cup of water for a minute or more. Strain out solids, then dissolve 1 cup sugar into water. Let cool and refrigerate.

Reds Bin 211
211 Helena Ave. 966-5906 or redsbarandtapas.wordpress.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: 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