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. 

Local Lowdown: Alcazar Wins Official Drink of SB Bragging Rights

The competition heats up as the eventual winners from Alcazar Tapas Bar prepare their entry for 2017 Official Drink of Santa Barbara craft cocktail contest. Photo by Danielle Methmann

It was a heated contest, but Alcazar Tapas Bar’s Ginspiration Point came out the big winner in the 2017 “Official Drink of Santa Barbara” craft cocktail contest.

An homage to Inspiration Point, one of the most famous—and famously beautiful—hiking trails in Santa Barbara’s foothills, this refreshing, citrus-forward cocktail features locally sourced ingredients—from the base spirit, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits Gin, to Nostrum’s Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Shrub—along with Bénédictine, Chartreuse, and fresh produce and herbs sourced from Santa Barbara farmers markets: lime, mint, rosemary flowers and egg white.

“We feel incredibly fortunate to be carrying the torch for Santa Barbara’s cocktail community among some truly gifted barkeeps,” says Alvaro Rojas, owner of Alcazar Tapas Bar, who was joined by bartender Kyle Pete at the competition. “This cocktail is really an homage to the local makers and growers that have made Santa Barbara not only a beautiful place to live but also a world-class pantry of ingredients.”

The cocktail will be on the menus at both Alcazar (1812 Cliff Dr.) and its sister restaurant, milk & honey (30 W. Anapamu St.), for the remainder of the year.

Visit Santa Barbara challenged local restaurants, bars and lounges to develop a new, unique signature mixed drink to celebrate the distinctive attributes of The American Riviera. The other four finalists were “La Reina” by The Boathouse; “Montecito” by Loquita; “True North, The Quintessential Santa Barbara Cocktail” by Olio e Limone; and “The Passion of the Pacific” by Rodney’s Grill at Fess Parker: A Doubletree by Hilton Resort.

I was honored to be part of the judging panel, and they were all quite delicious.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in the Spring 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

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.