Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

The only bar on the Westside, Bo Henry’s is packing them in every night with pool tables, a healthy and genre-stuffed jukebox, art all over the walls, and cocktails. On a sweaty Sunday night, creeping toward 11 p.m., we found the bar lively, one of the few things on this party side of town showing signs of life. Behind the bar was Erin Ingalls, working here since April and a veteran of the Crocodile on upper State. Asked if she had a drink that she had invented, she immediately pointed to the board above her head. “Do I? Yes.”

“Erin’s Lil’ Bit of Sweet ‘n’ Spicy” is currently the special and, no, Erin doesn’t have to be working the night you order it — but it helps. Her inspiration comes from a regular who lives nearby and is often bringing food from her garden to see if Erin can use it. She’s made gin martinis with lemon verbena, for example. But for this particular drink, she’s used fresh serrano chiles and then paired them with pear vodka. Triple sec and orange juice take the spicy edge off, but that combo of pear and chili really works. It’s smooth and spicy and, yes, sweet. It’s our Drink of the Week.

1 3/4 oz. Absolut Pear vodka
1/2 oz. triple sec
1 oz. orange juice
1 oz. sweet and sour
1/3 serrano chili, chopped

Muddle chili in shaker, add ice, liquids and shake. Pour into lowball glass and garnish with lime wedge.

Bo Henry’s
1431 San Andres St.
966-7898 or www.bohenry.com

DRINK OF THE WEEK: Joe’s Cafe Mai Tai

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you … a cocktail. Yes, we’re paraphrasing, but on this great Labor Day, isn’t this one of our great luxuries in life, enshrined in the Constitution to boot? And shouldn’t we go in search of cocktails made by those who have labored, readily, to provide excellent drinks to several generations?

Yes, we thought so too. That’s how we got in touch with Steve Velliotes, who has tended bar at Joe’s on State Street since 1988. His resume lists several heavyweight Santa Barbara venues that are still with us like Harry’s and The Sportsman, and many that are not: Mom’s and El Patio (where Best Western is on Cabrillo). And another called Tony’s Log Cabin. Never heard of it? It used to sit where Joe’s is now, and Mr. Velliotes’ grandfather used to run it. In fact, bartending “is in the blood,” he says, and that’s the kind of labor on Labor Day we’re toasting: working-class Americans passing down knowledge from generation to generation. And from that knowledge springs Steve’s Mai Tai, his greatest hit, and full of classic tiki goodness, sweet and fruity and even containing Trader Vic’s mai tai mix, surely a blast from the past. This Labor Day, let’s give a nod to the generations that make our drinks and often lend an ear to our problems. And don’t forget to tip!

2 1/2 ounces dark rum (preferably Myers’s)
3/4 ounce white rum (preferably Palo Viejo)
1/2 ounce mai tai mix (preferably Trader Vic’s)
1/2 ounce pineapple juice
1/4 ounce orange juice
2 drops grenadine

Add all ingredients over ice, shake and pour into lowball glass. Garnish with lime wedge and cherry.

Joe’s Cafe
536 State St. 966-4638 or www.joescafesb.com

DRINK OF THE WEEK: Casa Blanca’s Prickly Pear Margarita

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

It’s week two of our Drink of the Week march toward Fiesta! Or rather than march, call it a saunter, with glass in hand. We are keeping our focus on margaritas, that endlessly versatile drink, and the go-to cocktail for Old Spanish Days. We decided to stop by Casa Blanca, the very large and very fun restaurant and bar on the corner of State and Gutierrez. When it first opened, we came here and tried many drinks, including the Sunset Margarita. This time, we wanted to check out the special, which bartender Morgan Moore was happy to make for us: the Prickly Pear Margarita. This cactus fruit has a banana-like texture and flavor and a neon pink color, and makes this drink pop out among all the others at the bar. Moore uses El Charro Reposado tequila, the bar’s well, but you can replace it with your favorite. Also included: lime juice, lemonade and orange juice, instead of the typical sweet and sour mix. This drink was so good, we were done before we started … or it seemed like it, with plenty of citrus-y goodness mixed in with the pear, tangy but soft. It’s our Drink of the Week, but stay tuned next week for our final cocktail!

2 ounces. El Charro Reposado Tequila
2 ounces Perfect Purees’ Prickly Pear puree (or any other brand)
1 1/2 ounces triple sec
Splash lime juice
Splash orange juice
Lemonade, to top

Combine tequila, puree, triple sec, lime juice and orange juice over ice and shake. Pour into salt-lined lowball glass, top with lemonade. Garnish with lime wedge.

Casa Blanca
330 State St.
(805) 845-8966 or casablancasb.com

DRINK OF THE WEEK: Dargan’s Patrick’s Pride


Ah, the luck of the Irish! Or, shall we say, the luck of the Drink of the Week team, to walk into Dargan’s when bartender Patrick Owens was tending to his flock. Indeed, to impress a birthday girl over at a corner table, we watched him fold up a napkin and tuck it under his black shirt collar, making him look like a vicar. We knew right then that this witty man would rise to our St. Patrick’s Day challenge of an appropriate cocktail.
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