Drink of the Week: El Paseo’s Black Magic

Photo by Nik Blaskovich
Photo by Nik Blaskovich

At last, we near the end of our three-week journey, ending up in the heart of Fiesta. That is, El Paseo, which, since 1922, has been the place to go for fine Mexican food and a long selection of tequilas. This remnant of what was once a bustling mercado of shops and eateries in the forgone era of the 1970s, before it was turned into, well, law offices, is still pulling people in.

We’ve been trying out various margaritas over these three weeks, and so we scan down the menu until we get to the Black Magic. It’s not called a margarita on the menu, but according to our building blocks of a margarita, it is. It has a tequila — Don Julio Reposado. It has a sweet — St. Germain and some simple syrup. And it has a sour — lemon juice. And it has muddled blackberries to cast the whole thing into a purple haze. So, yes! It is a margarita, and very smooth and fruity and mellow one at that. And yes, El Paseo is going to be blowin’ up by the time you read this. But they’ll still have our Drink of the Week waiting for you.

3 blackberries
2 ounces Don Julio Reposado tequila
1/2 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup

Muddle blackberries.
Add ice and then tequila, St.-Germain, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake and strain into cocktail glass.

813 Anacapa St.
(805) 962-6050 or www.elpaseosb.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