Cocktail Corner: Toasting the New Year

Local favorite band King Bee performs at Dargan's on New Year's Eve, courtesy photo.

Local favorite band King Bee performs at Dargan’s on New Year’s Eve, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to the New Year!  By Leslie Dinaberg

There’s no shortage of great ways to ring in the New Year in Santa Barbara County! Here are a few options to start 2018 off in style:

King Bee at Dargan’s, courtesy photo.

King Bee Dance Party at Dargan’s

One of my favorite local bands, King Bee, performs a rare New Year’s Eve at Dargan’s. They’ll have a full menu available, including a champagne toast and a filet and shrimp special, as well as loads of dancing and loads of fun! This is a ticket-only event ($10), with limited dinner seating.

Dargan’s is located at 18. E. Ortega St. in downtown Santa Barbara. For more information, click here.

The Bear and Star, photo by Grey Crawford.

The Bear and Star, photo by Grey Crawford.

The Bear and Star’s Jazzy Celebration

The Bear and Star, Los Olivos’ hot new restaurant, which has been quickly embraced by food lovers for Chef John Cox‘s inspired, refined ranch cuisine, celebrates New Year’s Eve with a lively jazz quartet reminiscent of bygone days and a five-course menu.

Begin the evening with a flute of complimentary Fesstivity Rosé Sparkling Wine and Sunny Side Quail Egg, Black River Caviar and Tater Tot; followed by a Spicy Winter Greens with Smoked Lamb Bacon, Caramelized Apple and Pomegranate Vinaigrette; then a course of Shrimp & Grits with Santa Barbara Spot Prawn and Stone Ground Grits. The main course is a Petite Wagyu Filet with Cast Iron Sunchoke Hash, Brussels Sprouts and Bone Marrow Bordelaise. Top off the evening with Dark Chocolate Ganache Cake with Fuyu Persimmon and Speculose. Pricing for the prix-fix New Year’s Eve Dinner is $95 per person, with optional pairings by General Manager and Sommelier Robert Williams offered at $50 per guest.

For reservations, call The Bear and Star (2860 Grand Ave., Los Olivos) at 805/688-7788 or visit

Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

New Year’s Eve 1920s Countdown Party at the Goodland

Party like its 1920 at Goleta’s Goodland and Outpost restaurant’s 1920s inspired countdown party! Wear your best flapper dress or pinstripe suit  and get into the speakeasy spirit. General admission tickets are $10, which gets you access to Goodbar and a champagne toast at midnight. VIP tickets are $20, which includes access to Goodbar and an exclusive speakeasy with a specialty welcome cocktail, passed appetizers specially a live jazz band and DJ, and a champagne toast at midnight.

The Goodland is located at 5650 Calle Real, Goleta. For tickets, go to

DJ Darla Bea, courtesy photo.

DJ Darla Bea will spin into the wee hours on the rooftop at the Canary, courtesy photo.

Get Glitzed & Glammed Then Get Down at Finch & Fork and the Canary this New Year’s Eve

Kick off the New Year in style with dinner at Finch & Fork, where Executive Chef James Siao prepares a tasteful a la carte menu with specials set to festive décor and served with a champagne toast. Guests can also ring in the New Year by taking part in Finch & Fork’s New Year’s Eve tradition, where from 11 p.m.-midnight they’ll be serving complimentary passed bites and offering a midnight toast. Reservations: 805/879-9100

After dinner, head to the Canary’s rooftop for spectacular views and, starting at 9 p.m., the Canary’s Glitz, Glam & Get Down rooftop celebration, which includes a welcome cocktail, midnight toast and sweet bites from Finch & Fork. DJ Darla Bea will be spinning and setting the tone for the New Year! Tickets to the Glitz, Glam & Get Down party at Canary are $110, and can be purchased at

 The Canary and Finch & Fork are located in downtown Santa Barbara at 31 West Carrillo St. Call 805/879-9100 for reservations.

Champagne, courtesy S.Y. Kitchen.

Champagne, courtesy S.Y. Kitchen.

Ring in the New Year at S.Y. Kitchen in Santa Ynez 

In dedication to the rich provisions found in the Central Coast, Chef Luca Crestanelli and his brother, Sous Chef Francesco, have planned a bountiful and elegant dinner to celebrate New Year’s Eve. 

In addition to S.Y. Kitchen’s dinner menu, start the evening off with a platter of freshly-shucked Kumamoto Oysters with Mignonette; or a Dungeness Crab Salad with Frisée, Mushroom, Green Apple and Pomegranate. For the Pasta course, try Francesco’s hand-made Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragout and Pecorino Romano. Main courses include fresh Wood-Fired Roasted Orata with Saffron-Braised Fennel, Tomato Confit and Roasted Castelvetrano Olives; and a tender Wood-Oven Grilled Delmonico Steak with Porcini Mushrooms, Polenta and Black Truffles. Finish the evening with an extraordinary Italian Tortino al Cioccolato crafted by Francesco Crestanelli.

Optional wine suggestions by Sommelier Bingo Wathen are also available by the glass or bottle, featuring Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Brut; Araldica Barbaresco 2014; and Ronco del Gelso Pinot Grigio 2015. The holiday menu items are offered à la carte and are meant to be enjoyed alongside other seasonal offerings and signature dishes from S.Y. Kitchen’s dinner menu.

S.Y. Kitchen is located at 1110 Faraday St. in Santa Ynez.  For reservations, call 805/691-9794. 

Chumash Casino Resort New Year’s Eve Dance Party featuring The Boogie Knights and The Spazmatics

Fill your New Year’s Eve with flashbacks from the 1970s and ’80s as you dance the night—and the year—away at the Chumash Casino.

The party kicks off at 9 p.m. in the Samala Showroom and is free for all Club Indulge members. The Boogie Knights were originally formed in 1992 as a Halloween gag in Los Angeles. Almost overnight, the group took the live music scene by storm. Complete with choreography, polyester, afros and bell bottoms, The Boogie Knights have been proclaimed “The greatest disco revival show in the world.” You can expect to hear covers from Disco sensations such as Heatwave, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, The Bee Gees, Kool and the Gang, the Village People, Rick James and Earth, Wind and Fire.

When The Spazmatics take the stage, you’ll find yourself feeling right back in the 1980s. Complete with skinny ties, brylcreem hair, and horn-rimmed glasses, The Spazmatics deliver the ultimate new wave ‘80s show. The band specializes in music from favorites such as Duran Duran, Men at Work, The Knack, Thomas Dolby, Men Without Hats and Devo.

The Chumash Casino is located  at 3400 Hwy. 246 in Santa Ynez, Tickets for all events are available at the Chumash Casino Resort’s Club Indulge or online at 

For even more New Year’s Eve celebration ideas, Visit Santa Barbara has compiled a great list. Go here to to get the scoop!

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 December 22, 2017.

Local Dish: A Flavorful Feast at Finch & Fork

Finch & Fork's Kanpachi Crudo, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Kanpachi Crudo, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Some good news for Goleta: longtime Finch & Fork Executive Chef James Siao has taken on the dual role as Executive Chef of the Canary Hotel‘s sister property, Outpost at the Goodland. For the past five years, Siao has done an excellent job creating elevated comfort food at Finch & Fork. Our recent meal was no exception. 

Executive Chef James Siao, courtesy photo.

Executive Chef James Siao, courtesy photo.

Leaving our menu in Siao’s very capable hands, we started the evening off with the beautifully bright Kanpachi Crudo, made with avocado and cilantro crema, pickled pearl onions, jicama, yuzu and jalapeño. This was followed by a seasonal salad of Burrata & Heirloom Tomatoes, complimented with stonefruit, kale & pistachio pesto and outstanding grilled bread.

Finch and Fork Burrata and Heirloom Tomatoes, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch and Fork Burrata and Heirloom Tomatoes, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I could have died and gone to heaven quite happily right there, but Siao continued to bring out wonderful dishes, including a creamy Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli made with spinach, peas, preserved lemon and pecorino; and an incredibly flavorful Cauliflower, with romesco, hazelnut dukkah (an Egyptian nut and spice mix) and lemon.

Finch & Fork's Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The entrees (yes … there was still more!) were also terrific. A colorful Duck Breast with carrot cardamom puree, farro, onions and blackberry gastrique and perfectly prepared Sea Scallops with gold beet relish, grapefruit, chorizo vinaigrette and sliced avocado.

Finch & Fork's Cauliflower, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Cauliflower, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I can’t wait to see what Siao does with the Outpost menu. According to Spokeswoman Nicole Lazar, “Siao looks to add dishes that fit perfectly into the laid-back and sociable setting, including playful interpretations of classics. At Outpost, expect to see more sharable plates that highlight the season’s best, and focus on vibrant, flavorful ingredients. He and the culinary team at Outpost are currently working on new menus, starting with dinner, so stay tuned for exciting new creations.” 

Finch & Fork's Sea Scallops, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Sea Scallops, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

For more information on Finch & Fork (31 West Carrillo St. at the Canary Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara), visit For more information on Outpost (5650 Calle Real at the Goodland hotel in Goleta), visit

Finch & Fork's Duck Breast, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Duck Breast, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on September 14, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Easter Dining and a Toast to Spring!

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

Spring is in the air, so what better time to sample some of the lovely new libations at our local watering holes. Hop on over and give these spring cocktails and dining options a taste:

Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, courtesy photo.

Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, courtesy photo.

Ty Lounge at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara has a delicious Smoked Apricot Daiquiri—featuring Zaya 12 Year Rum, Apricot Puree, Chipotle Simple Syrup and Lemon—that will tingle your tastebuds. Bella Vista Restaurant at the Biltmore is always an elegant spot for brunch, but they’re an extra “Hoppy” Easter celebration for the whole family at Santa Barbara’s most beautiful al fresco setting, with an abundant holiday buffet, featuring traditional favorites as well as an extensive selection of seafood, salads, house-made pastas and carvings. Click here for reservations.

The Bottomless Bellini at Belmond El Encanto, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Bottomless Bellini at Belmond El Encanto, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The beautiful rooftop Easter Brunch at the Canary is a special place to celebrate the holiday with breathtaking views, great food and live music. Finch & Fork Executive Chef James Siao has seasonal brunch items available like Create-Your-Own Omelets, a Pastry and Bread Bar, Seafood and Carving Stations, and an indulgent dessert table. Reservations can be made by calling 805/879-9100.

The Bottomless Bellini Brunch at Belmond El Encanto is another great way to toast the holiday season. The Moët & Chandon Impérial Champagne is flowing every Sunday, with delectable California-coastal cuisine and live jazz music. A seasonal selection of shared appetizers starts the experience. Then, select from à la carte entrées like Seared Local Swordfish or Riviera Clam Bake. Following this sumptuous meal, head to The Wine Room where an irresistible selection of desserts awaits. Click here for reservations.

Cocktails at the Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Cocktails at the Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Outpost at the Goodland is also serving brunch this Easter, where Chef Nick Bajal will be serving a buffet full of brunch favorites. Start with one of his tarts, like the PB&J or Summer Squash with cherry tomatoes and cheese, or the Crab Biscuit with uni butter. Then move on to Baked Egg Frittata with ham, asparagus and goat cheese, Chicken & Waffles with tabasco maple syrup and Build-Your-

Breakfast at Viva!, courtesy photo.

Breakfast at Viva!, courtesy photo.

Own Tacos. And don’t forget to order a brunch cocktail like a house Bloody Mary or lead bartender Chris Burmeister‘s signature Smokemosa (made with Scotch, orange juice and sparkling wine). Call 805/964-1288 to reserve your Easter brunch seat. 

Spice up your spring at Viva!, which is now serving both brunch and breakfast (and excellent Mimosas in three flavors—cranberry, peach or raspberry—Bloody Mary’s and “Turtle Juice” with homemade agua fresca and Cruzan Rum) on its beautiful patio with the turtle filled pond in La Arcada. Try the Upside Down Pancakes, assorted Breakfast Burritos, Southwest Scramble or Breakfast Tacos for some inspired modern Mexican cuisine. Click here for reservations.

Sunday Champagne Brunch at the Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch is always a treat, but their Easter Brunch menu is especially spectacular. It features specialties like Jumbo Lump Crab Benedict, Pepper Crusted Wagyu Striploin and Citrus Cured King Salmon, along with sparkling wine, mimosas and bellinis. Call 805/565-1700 for reservations.

Loquita, photo by Kaitlin Chamblin.

Loquita Tortilla Espanola, photo by Kaitlin Chamblin.

Loquita‘s three-course Easter brunch begins with a choice of Charcutería  y Queso or Manchego Tasting, followed with a choice of one Tapas per guest—Patatas Bravas,  Ensalada de Cítricos, Chorizo Picadillo, or Tortilla Espanola. That’s followed by Torrijas–Spanish French Toast with Cara Cara Orange & Crema Catalana—and a choice of their splendid Sangria–Sangria Rojo with Tempranillo, Torres Orange Brandy & Lemon;  Sangria Blanco with Albarino, Gin & White Peach or house Agua Frescas. Click here for reservations.

The Easter Brunch at Les Marchands features an array of menu items from Chef Weston Richards, including House-Made Ricotta with Seasonal Jam & Brioche Toast; House-Made Chorizo & Butternut Squash Frittata with Parmesan Cheese; Breakfast Poutine with Sausage Gravy, Cheddar Cheese & Poached Egg;  and Tres Leches French Toast with Cinnamon Whipped Cream & Berries, among others. Guests can also  indulge in specialty cocktails like the Easter Pamplemousse Spritz with Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka, Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice, Muddled Basil Leaf, Topped with Crémant Rosé, Splash of Soda and Grapefruit Garnish, as well as variety of other cocktails, wines and beers. For reservations, click here.

Breakfast at the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach is always beautiful

Breakfast at the BoatHouse, courtesy photo.

Breakfast at the BoatHouse, courtesy photo.

(can anyone beat that view!). Try one of their many Breakfast Benedicts (Classic, Pork Belly, California or Smoked Salmon style Eggs Benedict, all with breakfast potatoes) or French Toast with a “Pancake Breakfast Cocktail” (Tullamore Dew/Butterscotch schnapps, OJ chaser and a strip of smoked bacon) for a special Easter treat. They don’t take reservations, so go early and plan to take a stroll on the beach to work up an appetite.

If an Easter lunch is your preference, head to Santa Ynez, where Alberto Battaglini of S.Y. Kitchen presents five new spring cocktails inspired by the warming temperatures, first of the season local market produce, herbs and botanicals: the Chamomile Sour; Spring

Pear & Honey Bramble pear-infused gin, honey liquore, pear, lemon, gomme syrup, crème de mure, courtesy S.Y. Kitchen.

Pear & Honey Bramble, photo by Elisabetta Antonacci, courtesy S.Y. Kitchen.

Negroni; Rio Nexpa; Rustic; and the Pear & Honey Bramble. Try the T-Bone Truffle Sliders, Wild Mushroom Papardelle or Yellow Beet Salad for lunch. You won’t be sorry! The wrap-around patio is an especially lovely spot to toast the season as well. Click here for reservations.

The Lark offers a tasty array of Easter holiday dinner specials such as Deviled Easter Eggs, Grilled Texas Quail and Roasted Banana Panna Cotta, as well as debut spring menu that includes Brillat Savarin Triple Crème Brie, Colorado Lamb Sirloin Tartare; Dungeness Crab Risotto; Slow-Roasted Niman Ranch Ribs; and ‘Shrimp & Grits’ with Fresh Caught Kauai Prawns. Toast the holiday with craft cocktails, like the new-to-the-season Hummingbird and Jackrabbit; as well as house specialties like Alice’s Flip; JP’s Paloma; Black Manhattan; The Mule; Old Aztec; El Topo; Industry Sour; and the Dirty One-Thirty-One. Click here for reservations.

Cheers to the season! 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 April 7, 2017.