Cocktail Corner: Sip and Savor Valentine’s Day

Finch & Fork, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your true love, or a true friend, our local watering holes and restaurants are working overtime to make the holiday a memorable one. Here are a few ideas:

A Classic Valentine Weekend at Finch & Fork

Finch & Fork (31 West Carrillo St.) is honoring the classics this Valentine’s Day. On both Feb. 13 and Feb. 14, order from their regular dinner menu, or from a variety of specials. Try the Lobster Bisque, served tableside and sure to impress. Next, order Chef James Siao’s Beef Wellington served with wild mushroom puree, speck, brioche, grilled asparagus salad and roasted garlic peppercorn sauce. For the ultimate finale, indulge in their tableside Hot Fudge Sundae, prepared with all the toppings.

The Hungry Cat SB | Photo by Andrew Stuart

The Hungry Cat SB | Photo by Andrew Stuart

Tempt Your Catch at the Hungry Cat’s Ocean-Inspired Valentine’s Day 

Gems from the sea set the scene for romance in Chef/Owner David Lentz’s Hungry Cat (1134 Chapala St.). For Valentine’s Day, guests may select from a prix fixe menu that includes Peruvian Scallops with fennel, sambal and granny smith apple; Prawns with chili, lime, shrimp chip and egg custard; Smoked Salmon with crème fraiche, caper berry, heirloom beet and cauliflower; Lobster Raviolo with black garlic, king trumpet and spinach; and Grilled Branzino for two with chickpea, green romesco, cucumber and mint. Meat lovers will savor a rich and tender Stout- Braised Lamb Shoulder. In addition, the restaurant’s signature Ocean-Fresh Raw Bar is available à la carte along with two specially created Valentine’s Day craft cocktails —the Laws of Attraction (made with Ford’s Gin, Pamplemousse Rose, lemon and chocolate bitters) and Love Me Forever (made with rose petal infused vodka, ginger, blood orange juice and gran classico).

Love Me Forever, Hungry Cat, photo by Dona Bridges.

Love Me Forever, Hungry Cat, photo by Dona Bridges.

The Lark Presents Three Nights of Valentine-Inspired Specials

Set the table for romance at The Lark (131 Anacapa St.), where Executive Chef Jason Paluska and Executive Pastry Chef Jeff Haines present a weekend of Valentine’s Day dining with enticing specials designed to be shared by two for the ultimate romantic dining experience. Chef Paluska’s creations include Santa Barbara Sea Urchin Toast with Perigord Black Truffle Butter, Grilled Sourdough Levain, Breakfast Radish & Chervil; and Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Pink Peppercorn-Buttermilk Biscuits with Roasted Strawberry Duck Jus, Pickled Fennel & Tarragon.

The Lark, courtesy photo.

The Lark, courtesy photo.

Couples may also share the luscious Dungeness Crab & House-made Gnocchi with Spanish Chorizo, Navel Orange, Castelvetrano Olives & Lobster Roe. For dessert, Chef Haines prepares a Classic Chocolate Cake with Hibiscus, Olive Oil, Raspberry Meringue and Passion Fruit Ice Cream. Served with the dessert is a toast for two of Sparkling Gamay from Patrick Bottex, La Cueille, Savoie, France. The Lark also offers the complete market-driven menu that has made the restaurant so popular.

Les Marchands| Photo Credit Rob Stark

Les Marchands| Photo Credit Rob Stark

Wining and Dining at Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant

Les Marchands (131 Anacapa St.) and Chef Weston Richards have a romantic weekend planned with three seductive dishes that are passionately playful for couples seeking a relaxed and casual evening of courtship. Begin with Les Marchands Valentine’s Day aphrodisiac of Crispy Fried Oysters with Lemon-Caper Remoulade and House-Made Hot Sauce. Then savor Chef Weston’s definitive burger—“Royale with Cheese,” two 1/4-pound beef patties with caramelized onions, Taleggio cheese and housemade thousand island served with a side of garlic-herb pommes frites. For the ultimate in decadent desserts, try a rich Dark Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate-Pistachio Crisp, Marshmallow, Ancho Chile Powder & Olive.

The sommelier team at Les Marchands has selected three preferred picks to be paired and discovered with each of the Valentine’s Day specials: Gaston Chiquet Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc to enjoy with oysters; Weihenstephaner Hefe Weiss as a match for the “Royale with Cheese” burger; and Domaine La Tour Vielle “Rimage” Banyuls to accompany the richness of Chef Weston’s dark chocolate mousse. Pricing is à la carte.

Vintage Love at Outpost

Celebrate a very special vintage Valentine’s Day at Outpost at the Goodland Hotel (5650 Calle Real, Goleta), where Executive Chef Derek Simcik has created the Vintage Love menu. It includes classic French dishes like Foie Tourchon with Sauternes, Beef Royale and Bouillabaisse. Pair your meal with the perfect cocktail, like the Novel Vintage with Woodford Rye, Maison Rouge VSOP, Earl Grey-Honey Syrup, Luxardo Maraschino, Orange Curacao and Lemon.

Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

Outpost at the Goodland, courtesy photo.

After dinner, stop by Goodbar and have lead bartender Chris Burmeister make one his newest creations. Try the Vendetta with Gran Lusso Vermouth, Lustau Palo Cortado Sherry, Amere Nouvelle, bitters and strawberry preserves, or the Handsome Haymaker with H by Hine Cognac, Avua Amburana, Masala Chai Syrup, milk and cream.

S.Y. Kitchen Presents a San Valentino Dinner Designed for Romance

The Courtyard at S.Y. Kitchen | Photo Credit Rob Stark

The Courtyard at S.Y. Kitchen | Photo Credit Rob Stark

S.Y. Kitchen‘s San Valentino Dinner features alluring holiday specials, a Valentine’s Day cocktail and stellar wine recommendations (1110 Faraday St., Santa Ynez). Starters include Black Truffle Ravioli with Burrata and Shaved Black Truffles; followed by main course selections of Filet Mignon with Mushrooms and Polenta and Grilled Giant Atlantic Prawns with Avocado Mousse, Local Tomatoes and Arugula. For dessert, there is a special additional dessert prepared by Chef Francesco—a rich Chocolate Terrine with Raspberry Sauce and Fresh Berries. Pricing is à la carte and reservations are recommended for one of the most popular dining nights of the year.

Rose & Hibiscus Martini | photo credit Alberto Battaglini

Rose & Hibiscus Martini | photo credit Alberto Battaglini

In addition, Mixologist Alberto Battaglini will make his special Rose & Hibiscus Martini: a stunning presentation of Rose-Infused Hendrix Gin with Fresh Rose Petals, Raspberry, Hibiscus-Blackberry Bitter, Lemon and Lime. Wine lovers will enjoy Sommelier Emily Johnston’s suggested bottle of Alma Rosa Brut Rosé ‘El Jabali’ 2013 among other recommendations to accompany dinner. Cuddle together in the courtyard at night or by the outdoor fire pit before or after dinner with an Aperitivo or Digestivo for a little extra flirting. In addition to the Valentine’s Day Specials, S.Y. Kitchen will offer their complete à la carte menu on Valentine’s Day for those that prefer the restaurant’s signature dishes. S.Y. Kitchen will also be serving their “Italian Breakfast” on Feb. 14 from 10 a.m. -2 p.m. for couples that want to get an early start on Valentine’s Day. 

Rose, Reds and Truffles at Santa Barbara Wine Collective

Santa Barbara Wine Collective (131 Anacapa St.), offers a special all- weekend Valentine’s Day tasting featuring two flights to sample from the Collective’s five talented Santa Barbara County members. Choose a flight of two exceptional Rosé selections from The Paring and Fess Parker or a flight of five reds from Babcock, Fess Parker, The Paring, Notary Public and Ca’ Del Grevino.

Both flights include pairings of artisan chocolate truffles created by Santa Barbara confectioner Jessica Foster, and are available all day Fri. Feb. 12-Sun. Feb. 14. To purchase advance tickets, visit NightOut.com: sbwcvdayflight.nightout.com. Tickets are also available in person.

Santa Barbara Wine Collective, photo by Erin Feinblatt.

Santa Barbara Wine Collective, photo by Erin Feinblatt.

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 February 5, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: A Toast to Love and Valentines

S.Y. Kitchen's Valentine's Kiss cocktail, photo by mixologist Alberto Battaglini.

S.Y. Kitchen’s Valentine’s Kiss cocktail, photo by mixologist Alberto Battaglini.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Nothing says romance quite like a great bottle of wine or a sexy cocktail. Here are some ways to toast your beloved this Valentine’s Day.

The Santa Barbara Wine Collective has a special Valentine’s Day library flight of Babcock Cabernet Sauvignon

The Babcock Library Cabernet Flight, courtesy photo

The Babcock Library Cabernet Flight, courtesy photo

paired with local chocolate truffles created by Santa Barbara confectioner Jessica Foster. The flight includes Babcock’s 2004 Nucleus Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Nucleus Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Block 15 Cabernet Sauvignon and a special release of Babcock’s “Naughty Little Nectar” Late Harvest Pinot Gris. All wines will be paired with Jessica Foster Truffles and winemaker Bryan Babcock will be on hand from 4-7 p.m. to offer an in depth look at each wine. The Santa Barbara Wine Collective, 131 Anacapa St., www.santabarbarawinecollective.com, 805/456-2700.

Jessica Foster Confections, courtesy photo.

Jessica Foster Confections, courtesy photo.

Chef Derek Simcik at Outpost has created a special “Get Your Freak On” aphrodisiac-filled Valentine’s Day Prix Fixe menu that includes: oysters with pork cheek, green curry and coconut (aphrodisiac: oysters & spicy chilies in the curry); rabbit with soba noodles, red wine, pomegranate, pine nuts (aphrodisiac: red wine, pomegranate and pine nuts); and a special Cocoa Boba Tea made with cocoa and cayenne (aphrodisiac: cocoa, cayenne pepper). In addition, bartender Chris Burmeister will have a number of specialty “love potions” – available all weekend at both Outpost and Good Bar, including: Roses are Red (Vodka, passion tea infused aperol, rose water, prosecco); Violets are Blue (Gin, dolin blanc vermouth, blueberry syrup, crème de violet, lemon juice), Between the Sheets (White rum, Cognac VSOP, Cointreau, simple syrup, lemon juice) and With a Bottle of Booze (Tequila, carpano bianco, Pimm’s No 1, Peychaud’s Bitters). Outpost and Good Bar at the Goodland Hotel,  5650 Calle Real, Goleta, www.outpostsb.com, 805/964-1288.

The very romantic dining room at the Wine Cask features a special three-course menu with chocolate truffles from Jessica Foster Confections (she’s obviously in demand this holiday season). The Wine Cask, 813 Anacapa St., www.winecask.com, 805/966-9463.

El Beso De Luz, courtesy Casa Noble

El Beso De Luz, courtesy Casa Noble

Not every man can serenade his sweetheart the way Carlos Santana can, and the man can also mix a mean cocktail. Santana named this drink El Beso de Luz (The Kiss of Light) as a tribute to his wife Cindy, because the first sip of the cocktail reminded him of the feeling one gets when they first

The Raspberry Kiss cocktail from Eureka! , courtesy photo.

The Raspberry Kiss cocktail from Eureka! , courtesy photo.

fall in love. Combine 2 oz Casa Noble Crystal Tequila with ½ oz Licor 43 and 1 oz Lime juice. Then squeeze an orange wedge over the cocktail and drop it into the glass. www.casanoble.com.

Eureka! is offering both His & Hers Special Valentine’s Day Cocktails. His is a collaboration with Mission Brewery on a version of their Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout that was aged for eight months in Four Roses Bourbon Barrels.  Hers is the Raspberry Chocolate Kiss cocktail featuring Prichard’s Double Chocolate Bourbon, raspberry gomme syrup, and red grapefruit juice. Both are available from Feb. 9 on. Eureka! , 601 Paseo Nuevo,             www.eurekarestaurantgroup.com, 805/618-3388.

Les Marchands has a Valentine’s Day menu designed to inspire passion. Begin with Oysters on the Half Shell with Champagne Mignonette and then sample one of Chef Weston Richard’s acclaimed Ramen dishes—a Pork Belly Ramen for carnivores or, for vegetarians, a Roasted Butternut Squash Ramen. For dessert, a Dark Chocolate Mousse with Earl Grey Custard, Strawberries, Pistachio and Chocolate Tuile (sounds amazing!). Available from 4-10 p.m. with no reservations required and à la carte pricing, this is a great option for people who don’t like to plan far ahead. In addition, a flight Rosé hand-selected by Brian McClintic MS is available. Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant, 131 Anacapa St., www.lesmarchandswine.com, 805/284-0380.

The romantic S.Y. Kitchen Firepit at Night , Photo by Rocco Ceselin.

The romantic S.Y. Kitchen Firepit at Night , Photo by Rocco Ceselin.

Just over the hill, S.Y. Kitchen has a San Valentino dinner designed for romance. Beginning with a first course for two of a Branzino Carpaccio with Osetra Caviar and Dill Crème Fraiche, guests will share Sous Chef Francesco’s House-Made Ravioli with Porcini and Black Truffles. The main course is a choice of a tender Filet Mignon with Foie Gras, Pineapple and Port Reduction or a Maine Lobster Catalana, to be selected by each guest. Chef Francesco will prepare a Chocolate Trilogy for the table completing a perfect Valentine’s Day evening in the Valley. Plus, Mixologist Alberto Battaglini has crafted his special Valentine’s Kiss cocktail —a stunning presentation of Rose Infused Gin with Lime, Lemon, Rose Liquor and Lavender. S.Y. Kitchen, 1110 Faraday St., Santa Ynez, www.sykitchen.com, 805/691-9794.

Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 6, 2015.

 

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.”