Cocktail Corner: Mixologists Compete for “Official Drink of Santa Barbara” Title

Puesta Del Sol cocktail by finalist Loquita, photo by Loquita, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

Puesta Del Sol cocktail by finalist Loquita, photo by Loquita, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

 A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Last year’s winner was “Ginspiration Point” by Alcazar Tapas Bar—a delicious homage to Inspiration Point, one of the most popular hiking trails in Santa Barbara’s foothills. Who will win bragging rights in the Second Annual “Official Drink of Santa Barbara” Cocktail Contest? 

Visit Santa Barbara hosts this fun and lively competition on Thursday, June 21 at El Paseo Mexican Restaurant (813 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara) from 5-8 p.m.

Biltmore Fuerte cocktail by finalist Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, photo by Four Seasons, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

Biltmore Fuerte cocktail by finalist Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, photo by Four Seasons, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

“We invite the public to sample the drinks of some of our region’s most creative mixologists, root on their favorites, and raise a toast to our community’s extraordinarily gifted food and drink professionals,” says Visit Santa Barbara President/CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes.

Local restaurants and bars were once again invited to develop a new, unique signature mixed drink that celebrates the distinctive attributes of The American Riviera. The creation must include a spirit from Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, a locally owned small-scale craft distillery located in the Funk Zone. Contestants were encouraged to use at least one local ingredient and take inspiration from Santa Barbara’s dramatic landscapes, architectural landmarks and culinary scene.

The Drive Home cocktail by finalist Finch & Fork, photo by Finch & Fork, courtesy Visit Santa Barbara.

The Drive Home cocktail by finalist Finch & Fork, photo by Finch & Fork, courtesy Visit Santa Barbara.

The finalists were selected by the public. The winning cocktails include: “Biltmore Fuerte” by Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, “The Drive Home” by Finch & Fork, “Riviera Hermosa” by Santo Mezcal, “Puesta del Sol” by Loquita, and “The American Riviera” by Santa Barbara Brewing Company

Riviera Hermosa cocktail by finalist Santo Mezcal, Photo by Santo Mezcal, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

Riviera Hermosa cocktail by finalist Santo Mezcal, Photo by Santo Mezcal, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

The live competition is emceed by Gabe Saglie, television personality and senior editor for Travelzoo. The cocktail judges include: food and wine author and columnist Michael Cervin; writer and publisher of Unique Eat and Eateries of Santa Barbara Geneva Ives; senior editor for the Santa Barbara Independent, Matt Kettmann; and “2017 Official Drink of Santa Barbara” winner and owner of Alcazar Tapas Bar, Alvaro Rojas. In addition, Santa Barbara Independent contest winner Gina Andrews was also selected as a judge. 

I got to be a judge last year and I can tell you, these guys are in for some tough decisions. I’ve already sampled both the Biltmore and Finch & Fork’s entries and they’re both excellent.

The American Riviera cocktail by finalist Santa Barbara Brewing Company, photo by Santa Barbara Brewing Company, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

The American Riviera cocktail by finalist Santa Barbara Brewing Company, photo by Santa Barbara Brewing Company, courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara.

Tickets are on sale now. The cost is $25, and includes two glasses of wine, appetizers and a sample of the five finalists’ entries (while supplies last). Casa Dumetz Wines and Margerum Wine Company will be pouring wine. Beer and cocktails are available for purchase at the bar. Click here to purchase tickets and for more information. Must be 21 and older to attend. 

Cheers!  Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on June 16, 2018. 

Cocktail Corner: Santa Barbara’s Official Drink Contest

Visit Santa Barbara challenges mixologists to create a Santa Barbara-inspired cocktail. Photo by Blake Bronstad.

Visit Santa Barbara challenges mixologists to create a Santa Barbara-inspired cocktail. Photo by Blake Bronstad.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg 

Mirror, mirror on the wall. What’s the most “Santa Barbara-like” cocktail of all? 

I’ve pondered this question myself on more than one occasion, so it excites me that we’ll get a definitive answer on January 26 at the “2017 Official Drink of Santa Barbara” Cocktail Contest,” held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (653 Paseo Nuevo). 

Hosted and conceived by Visit Santa Barbara, this creative contest invited local restaurants, bars, lounges, tasting rooms and breweries to develop a new, unique signature mixed drink that celebrates the distinctive attributes of our lovely town.

The creation must include a liquor from Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, and in addition, contestants are encouraged to use at least one local ingredient and take inspiration from Santa Barbara’s dramatic landscapes, architectural landmarks and culinary scene. 

Back Garden by Alberto Battaglini of SY Kitchen is one of the entries you can vote on for the "Official Drink of Santa Barbara Cocktail Contest." Courtesy photo.

Back Garden by Alberto Battaglini of SY Kitchen is one of the entries you can vote on for the “Official Drink of Santa Barbara Cocktail Contest.” Courtesy photo.

“Santa Barbara has so many talented mixologists and an abundance of culinary riches. We’re excited to see how they will creatively represent our incredible destination in one signature cocktail,” says Visit Santa Barbara President/CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes.

From January 14-19 , the public can view the entries posted, visit participating establishments to purchase drink submissions, and vote for their favorite entry on independent.com/officialdrinkofsb.

Then, the top five mixologists will get to compete in the live event on January 26, emceed by the always entertaining Gabe Saglie, television personality and senior editor for TravelZoo. The lucky panel of judges includes yours truly (it’s a tough job, I know), along with KEYT Meteorologist/Reporter Meredith Garofalo, Mixologist and Santa Barbara Independent Columnist Patrick Reynolds, Visit Santa Barbara outgoing Board Chair and Ganna Walska Lotusland Executive Director Gwen Stauffer, and local food and libations writer George Yatchisin

True North by Olio Crudo Bar is one of the entries you can vote on for the "Official Drink of Santa Barbara Cocktail Contest." Courtesy photo.

True North by Olio Crudo Bar is one of the entries you can vote on for the “Official Drink of Santa Barbara Cocktail Contest.” Courtesy photo.

Along with huge bragging rights and some prizes, the winner will have the exclusive rights to sell the “2017 Official Drink of Santa Barbara” at his/her place of business throughout the year. 

Speaking of bragging rights, don’t miss out on being able to say you had one of the first “Official Drinks of Santa Barbara.” Advance tickets are now on sale for $25, which includes two drink tickets, appetizers and a sample of the top five finalists’ entries (while supplies last). Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. and Santa Barbara Vintners also will be pouring drinks, and a cash bar will be available. Tickets are limited, and advance ticket purchase is required. Event-goers must be 21 or older to attend.  For more information, visit or to purchase tickets, go to http://www.sbindytickets.com/events/40449965/official-drink-of-santa-barbara-cocktail-competition.

The “2017 Official Drink of Santa Barbara” Cocktail Contest” takes place January 26 from 6 to 8 p.m.  at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (653 Paseo Nuevo).

Hope to see some of you there. Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 13, 2017.

 

 

Cocktail Corner: Tasty Tidbits

The Lark, courtesy photo.

The Lark, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

I can’t believe that summer is almost over. There’s been a lot of news on the bar beat the last few months. Here are some highlights:                

One of Santa’s Barbara’s favorite dining destinations, The Lark (131 Anacapa St.), was recognized by Wine Enthusiast in their sixth annual issue of the “Best Places to Drink Up In While Dining Out.” As a winner of the “Not to be Missed” category, The Lark was recognized for their outstanding wine program curated by Wine Directors Chris Robles and Vern Kettler. The wine list at the Lark focuses on smaller production wines made with minimal intervention from the winemaker, and which reflect a sense of place. Grape varieties for which the Santa Barbara area is known and their international counterparts are the focus. With few exceptions, all American wines are from Santa Barbara County. Wine Enthusiast editors state that “Chef Jason Paluska’s wine friendly foods are inspired by farmers’ markets—smoked pork belly, for example, might come with roasted berries, pickled summer peppers and candied brittle of fat local almonds.” The Lark is the only recipient from Santa Barbara this year, and one of 22 restaurants awarded in California. See the full list here. 

J. Wilkes Wines, courtesy photo.

J. Wilkes Wines, courtesy photo.

J. Wilkes Wines has opened a new tasting room in downtown Los Olivos at 2963 Grand Ave.  The space highlights a distinct wine tasting experience including educational aspects focusing on the region’s unique AVA’s, an entertaining quiz and private Winemaker Office Hours with winemaker Wes Hagen

The J.Wilkes brand was launched in 2001 by wine industry veteran Jefferson Wilkes and after his passing in 2010, the label was relaunched by the Miller Family, a fifth-generation California farming family, as a tribute to Jefferson’s unwavering love of the region.  J. Wilkes, under the guidance of accomplished winemaker Hagen, is dedicated to producing wines from the greatest American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) on the Central Coast.  Their new tasting room and education center in Los Olivos boasts an experience that gives insight into these regions and their wines and provides visitors with information about the area’s AVA’s including Santa Maria Valley, Sta. Rita Hills and Paso Robles.  

At long last, bottles of Cutler’s spirits are now available for purchase in the tasting room.

Cutler courtesy photo

Ian Cutler, courtesy photo

You can now come directly to the distillery to purchase your local favorite spirits. Personally, I’m partial to the spicy, cinnamon-tastic, delicious Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie Liqueur,  but Cutler’s Artisan Spirits also has its own Gin, Vodka and 33 Bourbon Whiskey, all of which are high quality and locally produced. (the tasting room and distillery is at 137 Anacapa St., Suite D, in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone).

Some of the fare at Lama Dog and the Nook, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Some of the fare at Lama Dog and the Nook, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

 

 

 

The first two tenants at The Waterline, a commercial mixed-use project at 116-122 Santa Barbara St. in the Funk Zone, have opened for business and both have quickly become local favorites: the Nook by Master Chef Norbert Schulz, and Lama Dog Tap Room and Bottle Shop. Craft beers (and a few wines) paired with fabulous, high quality food is a win-win for the area. Try the House-Made Bratwurst or the Rock Fish Tacos with one of 20 interesting rotating beers on tap.

Ah … it’s a great way to keep that summer feeling going all year long!

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on September 2, 2016.

 

 

Cocktail Corner: Fork & Cork Classic to Benefit Foodbank

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County's 3rd Annual Fork & Cork Classic takes place on April 10 at Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club. Photos by Eric Roland.

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s 3rd Annual Fork & Cork Classic takes place on April 10 at Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club. Photos by Eric Roland.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

I love it when good causes and good food and wine come together. Such is the case with the 3rd annual Fork & Cork Classic to benefit Santa Barbara County Foodbank by pairing gourmet tastings with local wine to fund nutritious meals for Santa Barbara County residents.

Taking place on Sunday, April 10, from 3-6 p.m. at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club (3375 Foothill Rd., Carpinteria), 100% of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Foodbank’s 300 local nonprofit partners who supply nutritious meals to Santa Barbara County residents.

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

Just last year, the Foodbank served 146,198 people, of whom 51,533 were children.

“Santa Barbara Fork & Cork Classic is an important event for the Foodbank,” says Erik Talkin, CEO, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.  “By taking part in this event, attendees are helping to provide healthy produce and staples for in-need Santa Barbara County residents.”

This year the Fork & Cork Classic 2016 will honor Dario Furlati, chef-owner at Ca’ Dario Ristorante and Ca’ Dario Pizzeria; Steve Beckman, winemaker at Beckman Vineyards, and Jack Motter and Jeff Kramer, farmers-owners at Ellwood Canyon Farms, for the contributions they have made towards advancing their respective crafts as well as their efforts to support the local community, including the Foodbank.

2016 Fork & Cork Classic Honorees

Participating wineries and other beverage donors from previous  years include Alma Rosa Winery & VineyardsAmpelos CellarsAscendant SpiritsBeckmen VineyardsBlair Fox VineyardsCaribbean Coffee CompanyCasa Dumetz WinesCutler´s Artisan SpiritsConsilience, Marianello & Tre AnelliCORE Family WineryDeep Sea by Conway Family WinesDV8 CellarsFalcone Family VineyardsFess Parker Winery & VineyardFoley Wine EstatesIsland Brewing CompanyJaffurs Wine CellarsKaena Wine Company and Kenneth Volk Vineyards.

Also pouring in the past were Lucas & Lewellen VineyardsNagy Wines Pegasus Estate Winery Scott CellarsSilver Wines LLCSummerland WineryPressed Juicery Turiya WinesThe Real McCoy RumTito’s Handmade VodkaWater StoreWilliam James CellarsWhitcraft Winery and Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards.

For an updated list of food and beverage participants visit forkandcorkclassic.org. General Admission tickets are $95 and VIP tickets—which include early entrance to the event at 2:30 p.m. and a VIP lounge—are $125. To purchase tickets click here.

2016 Fork & Cork Classic

I hope to see some of you at this fun—and very worthy—event. Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

This story originally appeared in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on March 18, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Jamming at The Lark

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Fall Jams at The Lark, sourced from Chapala Farms, include, L-R, Star Ghost Chili Vodka, Cutler Stagecoach Whiskey and Wilder Gin. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Fall Jams at The Lark, sourced from Chapala Farms, include, L-R, Star Ghost Chili Vodka, Cutler Stagecoach Whiskey and Wilder Gin. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

It takes an awfully inventive mind to look at a jar of jam or marmalade and envision a cocktail, but that’s exactly what those clever folks at The Lark have done, in partnership with Chapala Farms, and the results are quite unique—and delicious!

I tried my first “Jam” over the summer, a delightful concoction of Star Ghost Chili Vodka (made locally by Ascendant Spirits in Buellton)  and Chapala Farms Plum Jam. Not only was it yummy, with a nice kick of sweet and spice, I also loved the fact that Chapala Farms is an urban backyard farm venture from locals Jason Banks and Michelle Decaris, located right down the road on Chapala Street.

The Lark’s “Fall Jams” have kicked up the fun even further.

Local "Jam Cocktail" ingredients at The Lark, photo by Macy Kremzar.

Local “Jam Cocktail” ingredients at The Lark, photo by Macy Kremzar.

You really have to try these cocktails to fully appreciate the unique flavors and textures.

For fall, Star Ghost Chili Vodka is now combined with Chapala Farms Strawberry Passion Fruit Jam for a spicy glass of sweet deliciousness that’s unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.

We also liked the Cutler Stagecoach Whiskey (from Funk Zone local Ian Cutler‘s Cutler’s Artisan Spirits) with Chapala Farms Cinnamon, Mint, Fig Jam, a perfect holiday libation, as well as the Wilder Gin (from Ventura Spirits Company) and Chapala Farms Tangelo Jam combo.

The genesis of these clever cocktails comes from Buffalo, New York, where following a visit to a family wedding, Acme Operations Manager Dan Russo (The Lark, Lucky Penny, Les Marchands and the Santa Barbara Wine Collective) discovered Jam Cocktails, conceived at Ballyhoo, a popular Buffalo bar owned by Tim Stevens and managed by his nephew, Frank Pusateri. Russo was then

Chef Jason Paluska's Housemade Charcuterie at The Lark, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Chef Jason Paluska’s Housemade Charcuterie at The Lark, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

inspired to bring the concept to The Lark’s beverage program and teamed with Decaris and Banks of Chapala Farms to design distinctive summer cocktails made exclusively with local spirits— Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Ventura Spirits and Ascendant Spirits—and a rotating menu of Chapala Farm’s premier jams and marmalades. That tradition has now continued into the fall.

“The flavors from the jams produce a subtle sweetness and tartness that is different from muddling fruits and other methods. And when combined with our Central Coast spirits they make a great … cocktail,” says Russo. All Fall Jam cocktails are priced at $11 are subject to change with seasonal harvests.

The Lark is located at 131 Anacapa St., 805/284-0370.

Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on November 20, 2015.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Cocktail Corner: Getting Pickled!

2015 Screamin’ Pickle Fermented Cocktail Competition takes place on Sept. 8. Courtesy photo.

2015 Screamin’ Pickle Fermented Cocktail Competition takes place on Sept. 8. Courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Here’s a fun challenge for home bartenders. Local amateur cocktail artists are invited to enter the Screamin’ Pickle Fermented Cocktail Competition. Co-sponsored by Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, The Good Lion  and the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, contestants must sign up by Friday, September 4.

The competition will be held at The Good Lion on Tuesday, September 8.

The contest encourages participants to craft innovative cocktails featuring Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, paired with traditionally fermented mixers such as shrubs, raw apple cider vinegar, kombucha, beet kvass, ginger soda, kimchi, sauerkraut juice, fermented fruit and other creative libations.

The winning cocktail artist gets bragging rights, as well as the coveted Screamin’ Pickle Award at a ceremony at the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, and will also have his or her cocktail featured byThe Good Lion in the Farm-to-Bar Area of the festival.

Ian Cutler, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits owner and distiller, came up with the contest as a creative way to bring together local spirits created by fermented grains with local mixers also created by the process of fermentation. When he shared his idea with The Good Lion proprietor Brandon Ristaino and Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival Co-Founder Katie Hershfelt, the trio decided they had to make it happen. “We couldn’t be more excited to challenge our fellow cocktail enthusiasts and spread the wild world of fermentation to a wider audience,” Hershfelt says.

Contestants can enter by contacting Cutler at info@cutlersartisan.com by Friday, September 4. Ten slots are available on a first come, first served basis.

Competition and judging by a panel of prominent industry experts will take place at The Good Lion on Tuesday, September 8 [event is closed to the public]. First, Second and Third Place winners will be announced and receive their prizes at the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival Kick-Off Party at The Good Lion on Tuesday, September 15, at 6:30 p.m. [which is open to the public].

The First Place Cocktail will be served at Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival at Rancho La Patera & Stow House in Goleta on Sunday, September 20 from noon to 4 p.m. (A ticket is required to gain access to the tasting area).

For more information and to purchase tickets to the festival, visit www.SBFermentationFestival.com/activities/, follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/836647733108873/ or email info@cutlersartisan.com.

Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on August 28, 2015.

Cocktail Corner: Good Wines, Good Causes

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Santa Barbara winemakers are a generous bunch. They constantly get hit up to donate wine to charitable events, and do so with stunning regularity, often pouring the wine themselves, and always with affable smiles on their faces.

A few causes that are particularly near and dear to the wine/food community have their own fundraising events coming up soon, and lucky us, we get to sip and savor and support them in style!

Coming up on May 3 is the 2nd annual Fork & Cork Classic, which brings food and wine aficionados together to benefit Santa Barbara County Foodbank. Held at the Montecito Country Club, this delicious fundraiser features tastings from an array of select wines and special dishes prepared by over 20 of Santa Barbara’s top restaurants and chefs, including Bella Vista at the Four Seasons, Blue Owl, Ca’DarioEmpty Bowls Noodle Bar, Finch & Fork, Industrial Eats, Jessica Foster Confections, Julienne, Montecito Country Club, Patxi’s, Santa Barbara Yacht Club, Succulent Cafe, The Secret Ingredient, The Pasta Shoppe and Whole Foods.

Participating wineries include Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, Ampelos Cellars, Beckmen Vineyards, Blair Fox Vineyards, Consilience, Marianella & Tre Anelli, CORE Family Winery and Deep Sea by Conway Family Wines.

Additional wineries include Falcone Family Vineyards, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards, Nagy Wines, Pegasus Estate Winery, Scott Cellars, Silver Wines LLC, Turiya Wines, William James Cellars, Whitcraft Winery and Zaca Mesa Winery & Wineyards.

Also pouring are Ascendant Spirits, Caribbean Coffee Company, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Island Brewing Company, Pressed Juicery, The Real McCoy Rum and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

100% of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Foodbank’s 300 local nonprofit partners who supply nutritious meals to Santa Barbara County residents. Last year alone, the Foodbank served 140,575 people—over 25% of the local population, including 50,000 children.  For more information or to purchase tickets visit http://www.forkandcorkclassic.org.

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

Fork & Cork 2014, photo by Eric Roland Photography

Also back for the second year at the Bacara Resort & Spa is the Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend  April 16—19 . I’ve written about this before but this is a great event for a good cause: The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. Child herself created the foundation, and the mission is to honor and further her legacy, which centers on the importance of understanding where food comes from, what makes for good food, and the value of cooking.  It is a grant making, nonprofit which primarily funds research and scholarships for professional culinary training as well as other activities in the fields of gastronomy and the culinary arts.

Among the highlights this year is a special Saturday Night Grand Dinner & Reception with Kurt Russell featuring GoGi Wines, Hudson Bellamy Wines (inspired by actress Kate Hudson), and Ampelos Cellars. Russell will tell the stories behind the wines, their inspiration and their unique qualities driven by how they are grown and blended in the renowned Sta. Rita Hills AVA and there’s also a VIP access-only wine reception with live music followed by a four-course “ranch to table” dinner with his wine pairings.

Also on tap for the event is an educational lunch with Los Angeles power couple and celebrity chefs, Suzanne Goin (Lucques, AOC & Tavern) and David Lentz, chef/owner of Santa Barbara’s The Hungry Cat; cooking classes with famed chefs and cookbook authors, including Jim DodgeAnne Willan and Virginia Willis; a Neighborhood Tasting & Market that explores Santa Barbara’s top up-and-coming food regions, including Los Alamos, Arts District and the Funk Zone and while lot more.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit BacaraCulinaryWeekend.com.

Kurt Russell, photo by Isaac Hernandez

Kurt Russell, photo by Isaac Hernandez

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns. Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on April 10, 2015.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Cocktail Corner: Downtown Art & Wine Tour

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

downtown art and wine tourGreat art & wonderful wine make excellent bedfellows, especially when you add in fabulous food (which they do) at the 2014 Downtown Art & Wine Tour, which takes place on Thursday, May 22 from 5:30-9:30 p.m.

Stroll along State Street with fellow art lovers. Each venue is paired with a restaurant and winery for you to savor. Venues include: The Painted Cabernet; Artamo Gallery; Santa Barbara Frame Shop & Gallery; Bella Rosa Galleries; Oliver & Espig; Metropolitan; Indigo Interiors; Distinctive Framing ‘N’ Art; Santa Barbara Arts; Churchill Jewelers; Ca’Dario Gallery and Captured Spirit Photography.

Wineries include: Babcock Winery; Sanford Winery; Buttonwood Winery; Grassini Family Vineyards; Au Bon Climat Winery; Deep Sea Wines; Fess Parker Winery; Santa Barbara Winery; The Brander Vineyard; Armada Wine & Beer Merchant; Windrun Vintners and Presidio Winery.

There are also nibbles at every venue and still more tasty food at the Final Party. Participants include: Brasil Arts Café; Cielito Restaurant; State & Fig; Enterprise Fish Company; Blush Restaurant & Lounge; Chase Bar & Grill; Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant; Ca’Dario Pizzeria; Savoy Café & Deli; Chuck’s Waterfront Grill; Alchemy Café; Finch & Fork; bouchon Santa Barbara; Opal Restaurant & Bar; Sugar Cat Studio cupcakes, Caribbean Coffee and from the Santa Barbara Public Market: Crazy Good Bread Co., Culture Counter, Santa Monica Seafood and Wine + Beer.

Downtown Art & Wine Tour flyerThe festivities are followed by a Final Party at The Santa Barbara Club (1105 Chapala St.), featuring Cutler’s Artisan Spirits doing tastings, as well as pouring a specialty cocktail created just for the tour, the “A&WT’ini,” along with yet more wine, food, music, dancing and fun. AMS Entertainment will capture the memories and DJ Darla Bea will keep your feet moving and fingers snapping throughout the evening. Plus, a silent auction will showcase wonderful gifts and packages, all benefiting the 62nd Annual Downtown Holiday Parade.

Tickets are $75 for the tour and Final Party and are on sale now online at this link or in person at the Arlington Theatre Box Office or  the Downtown Organization office (27-B E.t de la Guerra St., open Mon.-Fri 9 a.m.-4 p,m.). A limited number of tickets are available and advance purchase is a must. Check-in begins at 5:15 p.m. at The Santa Barbara Club. For more information, please call 805/962-2098, ext. 24 or visit santabarbaradowntown.com.

Hope to see you there!

Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on May 9, 2014.

Cocktail Corner: Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie Liqueur

Cutler courtesy photo

Ian Cutler, courtesy photo

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’m sure some super-organized hosts already have their menus color coded and the ink is dry on their calligraphy place cards. To those people I say, “thanks for making the rest of us look bad” … and to the rest of us I say: “forget struggling over the crust:  Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie Liqueur is the best apple pie you’ve ever had in your life!”

I’m not kidding!

I was hooked from the first sip of this spicy, cinnamon-tastic, delicious liqueur from Cutler’s Artisan Spirits (the tasting room and distillery is at 137 Anacapa St., Suite D, in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone). Seriously, it’s even better than dessert, and I don’t say that very often.

Cutler's Artisan Spirits: Grandma Tommie's Apple Pie LiqueurAs Ian Cutler explained when I visited the tasting room a while back, the flavor was inspired by his Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie recipe (which had to have been out-of-this-world yummy). He starts with Cutler’s ultra premium extra smooth 7 times distilled Vodka, and adds fresh apple juice, certified organic whole vanilla beans, certified organic cinnamon and other spices to mimic that perfect fresh baked apple pie taste.

Taste it at Cutlers’ Artisan Spirits, then mosey a few doors down to Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant (131 Anacapa St., Suite B) to buy a bottle (or two)  to take home and get into the spirit and “prepare” for Thanksgiving.

(Click here for an additional list of local places to purchase Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie Liqueur, as well as the fine establishments where Cutler cocktails are served.)

Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine on November 8, 2013.

Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Cocktail Corner: epicure.sb’s Excellent Libations

Wildcat Farm to Bar Mixologist Patrick Reynolds (John Blanchette photo)

Wildcat Farm to Bar Mixologist Patrick Reynolds (John Blanchette photo)

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Traditionally, epicure.sb devotes the entire month of October to celebrating the best of Santa Barbara’s cuisine with a bountiful menu of foodie fun.  This year’s epicurean excitement truly has something for everyone; including this lovely line-up of libation-related events and activities.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Elkpen‘s beautiful, handmade chalk mural in the Funk Zone’s AVA Santa Barbara tasting room (featured in Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine last spring), October’s a great time to visit. AVA (116 E. Yananoli St.) offers Harvest Bites (Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30), including fresh grape samples, winemaker’s comments and hearty small bites paired with Santa Barbara County wines.

As local farm-to-bar aficionados know, Wildcat mixologist Patrick Reynolds (formerly of the Hungry Cat) is a whiz with farmers’ market-fresh ingredients, creating clever craftsman cocktails with whatever looks the most appealing that day. Typically this happens on Tuesdays, as soon as the downtown market closes, but this 1st Thursday (Oct. 3) my little birds at the CVB tell me that his extra special cocktail list will be themed around sense memories of Santa Barbara. I can only imagine how the tantalizing tastes of The Goodland and Tangerine Falls will taste—until Thursday that is! Come early, these puppies are bound to be popular. Farm to Bar at Wildcat (15 W. Ortega St.) starts at 4 p.m. (goes till 9 p.m.), and these spirited specials are just $8 a pop.

Always a fun stop for foodies, at Isabella Gourmet Foods (5 E. Figueroa St.) The Great Gatsby Goes Gourmet on Oct. 7 and Oct. 21, as a master mixologist crafts specialty elixirs combining local spirits with artisan mixers from Isabella’s shelves. Get out those beaded flapper gowns because 1920s attire is encouraged, and you want to look your best in case Leonardo DiCaprio decides to show up!

On October 8, our friends at Cutler’s Artisan Spirits (137 Anacapa St., Ste. D) and Spare Parts will be Distilling the Spirits and Tastes of Santa Barbara, joining together for a one-of-a-kind evening that infuses the witty, guerrilla dining of SB’s oldest supper club with signature Cutler Cocktails made by the founder of Santa Barbara’s first legal distillery, Ian Cutler.

Experience harvest firsthand with Margerum Wine Company as you help with hand sorting and crushing grapes, yeasting and inoculating ferments, laboratory analysis, plunging and punch down ferments. As Winemaker for a Day (59 Industrial Way, Buellton) (available Oct. 11 and Oct. 25), you’ll end the festivities with barrel tasting and the opportunity to blend your own wine—and take home a bottle to show off to your friends.

Whew … believe it or not, this is a just a taste of all of the fun epicure.sb has to offer. For more details, click here.

Cheers!

Photo Credit: Wildcat Farm to Bar Mixologist Patrick Reynolds, photo by John Blanchette.

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Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”