Cocktail Corner: Spring Delights at S.Y. Kitchen

Fennel & Raspberry Sour (fennel vodka, fresh raspberry, lemon, lime, simple syrup and dill) is one of the new spring cocktails at S.Y. Kitchen. Photo by Elisabetta Antonacci.

Fennel & Raspberry Sour (fennel vodka, fresh raspberry, lemon, lime, simple syrup and dill) is one of the new spring cocktails at S.Y. Kitchen. Photo by Elisabetta Antonacci.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

S.Y. Kitchen Mixologist Alberto Battaglini takes his spring cocktail inspiration from local market produce, herbs and botanicals. He’s created three new seasonal cocktails to delight your senses.

The Fennel & Raspberry Sour—made with fennel vodka, fresh raspberry, lemon, lime, simple syrup and dill—has a nice balance of sweet and herbal flavors, as does the Pineapple & Basil Mojito—made with the Real Mccoy three year Private Barrel Rum, pineapple, basil, lime and sugar. Mescal is one of the hottest ingredients in cocktails right now, and Battaglini combines it with tequila, basil, jalapeño, cucumber and salt to create La Gritona, a handcrafted blend designed to pair perfectly with S.Y. Kitchen Executive Chef Luca Crestanelli‘s seasonally driven Italian cuisine.  

Pineapple & Basil Mojito (with the Real Mccoy 3 year private barrel rum, pineapple, basil, lime and sugar) is one of the new spring cocktails at S.Y. Kitchen. Photo by Elisabetta Antonacci.

Pineapple & Basil Mojito (with the Real Mccoy 3 year private barrel rum, pineapple, basil, lime and sugar) is one of the new spring cocktails at S.Y. Kitchen. Photo by Elisabetta Antonacci.

A native of Verona, Battaglini dreamed of a restaurant career when he was still in elementary school. Attending Scuola Alberghiera, he learned the fundamentals of cooking and food service, and soon learned that being a chef was not for him. He did, however, start his ardent love affair with spirits, which took him to Gatwick, London where he met his mentor in mixology, Ian Slater. Battaglini then further honed his mixology passion and skills in Spain and Mexico before meeting up with his old school friend Chef Crestanelli at Bar Toscana in Brentwood.

This spring, as one of the few finalists in the western division, Battaglini competes for the regional win for the United States Bartenders Guild which moves on to the national competition in June.

La Gritona (tequila, mescal, basil, jalapeño, cucumber and salt) is one of the new spring cocktails at S.Y. Kitchen. Photo by Elisabetta Antonacci.

La Gritona (tequila, mescal, basil, jalapeño, cucumber and salt) is one of the new spring cocktails at S.Y. Kitchen. Photo by Elisabetta Antonacci.

Battaglini says, “The soul of mixology is found in all the old recipes that we twist with modern ingredients and tools, to play with tastes and to give every customer an extraordinary experience.”

Check them out at S.Y. Kitchen (1110 Faraday St., Santa Ynez), and let us know what you think.

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 March 20, 2018.

Cocktail Corner: Brave & Maiden Tasting Room Breaks Ground

Brave & Maiden tasting room, courtesy image.

Brave & Maiden tasting room, courtesy image.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Brave & Maiden Estate recently broke ground on its new winery and tasting room, which will be located on the winery’s 60-acre estate along Refugio Road in Santa Ynez. The sustainably farmed vineyard takes its name from the “Legend of Nojoqui” (pronounced Naw-ho-wee), an indigenous incarnation of Romeo & Juliet. Set at the nearby Nojoqui Falls, the legend recounts the story of star-crossed lovers who choose death over separation.

The new facility and tasting room has been in the works for many years. Brave & Maiden Estate was established in 2011 and occupies the land they purchased in 2010. Planted to 46 acres of vineyards—including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, and Sauvignon Blanc—Brave & Maiden’s wine program, led by winemaker Paul Hobbs, has found success in both restaurants and bottle shops throughout Southern and Central California, earning accolades for their single-vineyard estate wines and red blends.

Entrance to Brave & Maiden tasting room, courtesy image.

Entrance to Brave & Maiden tasting room, courtesy image.

The new facility will offer an entirely new tasting experience, along with a production facility for up to 8,000 cases. “We are thrilled to see the project get underway,” says Jason Djang, Managing Director. “The plans have been in the works for some time, so we’re excited to finally see earth moving and our vision coming to fruition.”

The project is designed by renowned wine country architect group Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects, known for projects such as Harlan Estate Winery, Larkmead Winery and Meadowood Napa Valley, among others. The space is Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects’ first project on the Central Coast, and is designed to prominently showcase views of the picturesque vineyard overlooking the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Brave & Maiden winemaker Paul Hobbs, courtesy photo.

Brave & Maiden winemaker Paul Hobbs, courtesy photo.

 “At Brave & Maiden, our goal is to not only be great vintners, but gracious hosts as well,” states Djang. “Hospitality will be central to our DNA as we create a unique and unforgettable experience with our wines, and the estate.” 

The winery and tasting room will open its doors by appointment the second half of 2018—a milestone the Brave & Maiden team feels will expand their goals as a brand.

“Santa Barbara County truly is a world-class wine region and I welcome the opportunity to be involved as the area embraces growth,” says Hobbs.

 “We were humbled by the market’s reception of the brand in 2014, selling out of our first two vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon,” says Djang. “Now, with construction of our new winery underway, we’re eager to open our own doors for guests to experience our wines first-hand. Obviously, we believe in the greatness of Santa Barbara County as a wine region and have invested accordingly.”

Brave & Maiden vineyard, courtesy photo.

Brave & Maiden vineyard, courtesy photo.

For more information, visit braveandmaiden.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 on July 28, 2017.

Solvang’s “Scarecrow Fest” and Halloween Fun Start This Week

Scarecrow Fest, Grand Prize Winner, Buellton Valley Pets. Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

Scarecrow Fest, Grand Prize Winner, Buellton Valley Pets. Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

The beginning of Solvang’s 5th Annual Scarecrow Fest coincides with the Santa Barbara Wine Country Celebration of Harvest Weekend, then there are numerous fall activities planned in the Santa Ynez Valley/Santa Barbara Wine Country, spread throughout the month.

Running from Oct. 10-Nov. 10, some of the festival highlights include:

-The amazing scarecrow contest, where Solvang businesses, organizations and, as a new facet to this year’s contest, Solvang residents, will participate in the contest by featuring a scarecrow of their own creation, posted at their location. You can vote via ballot boxes scattered about the city, for scarecrow winners in six  different categories: “Best Scarecrow in Motion,” “Best Use of Recycled Materials,” “Best Use of a Business Theme,” “Most Danish,” “Spookiest” and “Most Humorous.” Ballots are available at the Solvang Visitors Center and at select Solvang businesses, and feature maps to direct voters to each of the contest’s scarecrows.

Once a “Best Solvang Scarecrow” winner has been chosen, it will be entered into the Santa Ynez Valley-wide competition with the respective winners from Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos and Santa Ynez, to determine the “Valley’s Best Scarecrow” bragging rights.

Solvang Scarecrow Fest, Best of Solvang Lucas & Lewellen, #1 Judges Choice Winner. Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

Solvang Scarecrow Fest, Best of Solvang Lucas & Lewellen, #1 Judges Choice Winner. Photo by Tenley Fohl Photography.

The October installment of Solvang’s Third Wednesday, to be held on October 15, which will feature a “Fall Frolic Block Party” at the town’s “West End” including live music, free treats, a local business-supporting “Cash Mob” and free admission to the Wildling Art Museum.

The Oct. 15 “Fall Frolic,” Lemos-sponsored doggie costume contest and parade kicks off at 5:45 p.m., with prizes – $20 Lemos gift certificates – being awarded for best costumes in three categories: “Funniest,” “Scariest” and “Most Original.” To enter the costume contest, human handlers should show up in front of Lemos (1511 Mission Dr.) by 5:45 p.m., with their animal counterparts. Along the “parade” route, a handful of Solvang’s West End businesses will be upping the “free” and “food” antes including Wandering Dog Wine Bar, (1539-C Mission Dr.) which will be offering gratis Rosemary Spiced Nuts, as well as free cider and nibbles in front of Kandra’s Beads (1539-A Mission Dr.).

-The 21st Annual Haunted House and Street Fair, which will thrill visitors with food, fun and spirits, on Oct. 30-31. The Haunted House and Street Fair, to be held at the Solvang Festival Theater (420 2nd Street), will include a “Trunk or Treat” candy-palooza among other tasty and spirited delights.

Additional information is available at www.solvangthirdwednesday.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Solvang Scarecrow Fest, Best Use of Recycled Materials, Waste Management, courtesy photo.

Solvang Scarecrow Fest, Best Use of Recycled Materials, Waste Management, courtesy photo.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 8, 2014.