Overlook Café’s Wild Turkey Cosmo

Nik Blaskovich/News-Press

Nik Blaskovich/News-Press

We were flying out to Vegas by way of L.A. when we took a quick trip up to Santa Barbara Airport’s Overlook Café for a coffee. And that’s when we spotted the bar. Of course! Why wouldn’t there be a bar at the airport … just keep the pilots away from it! So on our way back from Sin City (short review: weak cocktails, strong prices) we checked in our mixologist bags at the Overlook and met our bartender Joe Cruz, who’s been pouring 16 years here. If you have stopped in on your way out, Joe probably served you.

Yes, the bar is small (five seats) and has a tiny selection of bottles. Serving those who are just biding their time (the short-term parking prices don’t invite regulars), we were still pleased. The Overlook could just offer a standard selection of drinks, but there is a margarita here that won’t disappoint. But Cruz likes to fiddle about in the recipe department and offers specials for those who want to try his work.

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Red’s Bloody Mary

Nik Blaskovich / News-Press

Nik Blaskovich / News-Press

Dana Walters keeps evolving her funk zone space, Reds Wine Bar, as the area evolves. For years, it was a well traversed coffee shop. Then, Walters changed it into a wine bar to sync with the Kalyra tasting room located behind Reds, and to fit in with the growth in tasting rooms nearby. Having managed that, Walters started the process of attaining a liquor license, putting herself down for the lottery. Now that she has that paper in hand, who should turn up but those boozy reprobates! That is, us.

Now, Reds is not slinging drinks like a Friday night at EOS. The atmosphere is more like a good friend making a drink for you in their kitchen. So we put Walters through her paces. Could she handle our demands?

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Paradise Café’s Greentini

Nik Blaskovich/News-Press

Nik Blaskovich/News-Press

“It’s about time you walked over here!”

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.

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Pastavino’s Peach Mojito

Nik Blaskovich/News-Press

Nik Blaskovich/News-Press

Previously, on “Mixologists a GoGo”: Our intrepid explorers found themselves out at the Holdren’s Steak House outpost at the Camino Real Marketplace, aka Big Box Mall. Having finished their liqueur-filled ramblings, they set off to find a bathroom, took a left, took a right, walked past the kitchen, and … what the hey? There’s another restaurant and bar back here!

Indeed, Holdren’s shares a kitchen (and owners) with Pastavino, an Italian restaurant with dark maroon walls and a small, horseshoe-shaped bar, presided over by Reuben Soto, who manages both restaurants.

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Holdren’s Key Lime Pie Martini

Nik Blaskovich / News-Press Photo

Nik Blaskovich / News-Press Photo

Bartender John Randolph moved to Goleta’s Holdren’s branch after years of serving at the Chase Bar and Grill downtown. Could that explain the garlands and festive fairy lights hanging from the dark wood beams and corners of this steak restaurant? Or is it just the time of the season . . . the time to explore some cocktails?

With its long bar, the Good Land Holdren’s shares many cocktails with its downtown location, but we make sure to hold off on all those drinks and focus on the newest of the new, the differentest of the different. Sequestered away in the cozy environment of the bar, where one can’t see the box maulings outside, we watch Randolph whip up some fancy drinks.

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DRINK OF THE WEEK : COAST’S CHOCOLATE ORANGE MARTINI


NIK BLASKOVICH PHOTO
Ted Mills
February 22, 2008 11:33 AM

A few months ago we had thought of reviewing 31 West, the bar in Hotel Andalucia. But before the ink was dry on our list of watering holes, the place closed down. Suddenly, it was goodbye Hotel Andalucia and hello Hotel Canary, and by extension, goodbye 31 West and hello Coast.
For those who remember the old restaurant/bar layout, the Coast will surprise. There’s a more obvious division between lobby and restaurant, and the bar runs lengthwise upon entering, no longer at the far right corner. What feels like a mirrored wall is actually empty space looking out onto diners, Carrillo Street and beyond. No wonder we didn’t see our reflections ” for a second we worried we had become vampires “
Bartender Harry Congdon has been serving drinks here since the opening of 31 West, whereas his counterpart Jeff Shettler started his tenancy upon Coast’s opening in January, but has mixed at the Harbor, Dargan’s, and beyond. Both know how to whip up a fancy cocktail.
We started out with an espresso martini. There is a tendency in coffee cocktails to shy away from the innate bitterness of the bean by loading up with sweet additions, but Congdon played it quite close to a chilled espresso drink. The sweet came by way of Bailey’s, Godiva liqueur, Kahlua, and Absolut Vanilla. The espresso then balanced these out, allowing the flavor of the vodka to edge through.
A variation on the Lemon Drop came next, with a “crushed raspberry” spin. Delightful and pink, the cocktail starts off with muddled raspberries and lemon wedges where it meets sour mix and Absoluts Vanilla and Citron. The sourness again balances against the sugar around the rim of the glass. Neither sweet nor sour, the drink maintains its strong lemon identity.
Congdon made both these, leaving Shettler to finish us off with a real “dessert.” While the Coast offers plenty of such drinks on its menu (along with some yummy appetizers that almost — almost! — got delivered to us by mistake), Shettler went off menu to make us a Chocolate Orange Martini. Like his workmate, Shettler delivered a drink that toned down the potential sweetness and highlighted the flavors of the various alcohols. And so, with the recipe for our Drink of the Week, you can see what we mean.

CHOCOLATE ORANGE MARTINI
1-1/2 oz. Absolut Mandarin
1/2 oz. Bailey’s Irish Creme
3/4 oz. Godiva Liqueur

Mix together in a shaker over ice, strain into martini glass. Garnish with orange slice.

Coast Restaurant & Bar
31 W. Carrillo
884-0300, www.canarysantabarbara.com

©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

Goleta: Where the people come to drink

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You can forget your fancy wine bars, your oh-so-trendy dance clubs, Santa Barbara — Goleta is having none of that.

If there ever was a way to show the division between the two cities, taking a look at the bar scene in Goleta reveals the utilitarian nature of this now fledgling city. This is where people come to drink, and after all, isn’t that really what a bar is all about?

This brief guide to the watering holes of Goleta and Isla Vista will give you direction when it’s decided that a trip downtown is just too far to go to slake your thirst.

Big thanks to my friend Chris, who, Virgil-like, accompanied me on my fact-finding mission, sampling the alcohol meant for me so that I may write this in my fullest capacity. Surely a man couldn’t ask for a finer sacrifice.

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