Yes, the Paradise Café is literally a 30-second walk from the News-Press offices, but we mixologists have a habit of not seeing the nose in front of our face. After all, our noses are red and can be mistaken for neon signs and traffic lights.
For 27 years the Paradise Café has been a consistent eatery and watering hole, and its multi-leveled dining areas give off a slight M.C. Escher-esque aura. (I can’t think of many places where one must ascend to the gents’ room). However, the drinks don’t flow uphill, but in a more sensible fashion — into our glasses.
Bartender Bruce Stanton has been serving drinks here since 1990, and serves us up a standard Paradise margarita, which one can have during happy hour for four bucks. It’s Cuervo Gold and not much else, says Randy Rowse, the owner, but we did see Stanton pile in the Rose’s lime concentrate, Triple Sec and sweet-and-sour. We’re no fans of Rose’s, but the Cuervo Gold rule obliterates any high fructosiness. And for happy hour, you won’t be sad.
Much more interesting is the Bob Marley, which comes from Rowse’s tour of Barbados in the 1970s. We would like to think that the cocktail comes from those years, but Rowse corrects us. It was rum all the time. It was only when he got back here that he started drinking the Mount Gay rum with tonic and a dash of bitters. Used to having sweetness alongside our rum, this interspersion of bitter was a surprise. But we also highly recommend trying it if you’re looking for something both simple and different.
We ended with the Greentini, which we thought might be based on apples. But no, we were told, it’s based on green tea. In particular, it’s based on Charbay’s Green Tea Vodka out of Ukiah. This is not a green version of the now-popular sweet tea, but an odd, strong liquor that almost hinted at grappa. Combined with a splash of lemonade, it was another simple cocktail, but one that was dry and mature. Next time we wander over the road, we’ll try our Drink of the Week again. We’ll just not take as long between visits.
3 ounces Charbay Green Tea Vodka
Splash of lemonade
Combine over ice, shake, strain into martini glass
702 Anacapa St.