Cocktail Corner: Booze-Infused Popsicles

iStock_000020444626Small-704x400A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

With Labor Day weekend on the horizon, this seems like an ideal time to bring on the adult beverage version of one of my favorite summertime treats: the popsicle.

Not only are booze-infused popsicles delicious, they are just about the easiest cocktail—or simplest dessert—you can make.  A little  juice, a little alcohol (or a lot) and a paper cup … and you’re all set. Here are some of our favorite recipes to try out this weekend:

Sauvignon Blanc-Infused Yellow Peach and Vanilla Ice Pops: Bon Appetit indeed. We give two thumbs up to this yummy recipe from one of our favorite food mags.

Boozy Grapefruit, Basil and Vodka Popsicles: An entertaining video recipe from Jerry James Stone of “Cooking Stoned” (!).

Pimm’s Cup Popsicles: Tennis anyone? This recipe from the beautiful Shutterbean blog will certainly put you in the mood.

Mixed Berry Pinot Pops: This fruity recipe from Refinery29 is chock-full of antioxidant berries, as well as Pinot Noir!

Fennel-Pernod: Leave it to the New York Times to make popsicles sophisticated. This oh-so-refined recipe combines chopped fennel with Pernod or the anise liquor of your choice.

Can’t get enough of these frozen treats? Here’s a whole Pinterest page devoted to Yummy Booze Popsicles!


Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.

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.”

The Boob Business Boom

Photo by Ambro

Photo by Ambro

The economy may be tanking but there are some bright spots on the horizon–when it comes to new plastic surgery-related products, our cups runneth over.

Love it or loathe it, plastic surgery is here to stay–at least until products like Zoft Breast Enhancement Gum and Max Enhance Natural Breast Enhancement Cream actually work–and a whole cottage industry of related products is developing around the boob business.

There is “My Beautiful Mommy,” an illustrated children’s book written by Florida plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Salzhauer, to help children deal with mom’s new enhancements.

“Mommy, why are those truck drivers ogling you?” is not one of the issues covered in the book.

As reported on “Newsweek’s” website–the book, which features a bright pink cover of a perky-breasted mom sprinkled in stardust, and “blessed” with Barbie’s waist-to-hip ratio, apparently didn’t warrant the dead tree treatment in the eyes of discerning “Newsweek” editors–is the story of a mommy explaining to her child why she’s having the muscle-bound superheroesque Dr. Michael perform plastic surgery. Of course they live happily ever after: mommy winds up “even more” beautiful than before, and her daughter is thrilled.

Why write the book? Plastic surgery is big business–$15 billion big to be exact. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS? Did they think that through?), breast augmentation was the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure last year, with 348,000 performed (up six percent). I guess it’s no surprise that there’s been an increase in the average bra size from 34B to 36C. Then there are the 148,000 tummy tucks–up one percent from the previous year.

Clearly it’s a growth industry–except of course when it’s a stop the girth industry. Why not jump on the bandwagon?

If you’re plastic and proud, you can show off your enhancements with a University of XXL Plastic Surgery sweatshirt from Opinions R Fun Inc. or a t-shirt that proudly states, “Just got ’em” or “I believe in making mountains of molehills” from CafePress.

Then there’s my personal favorite, Lift Me Up stationery. A Texas woman named Camie Dunbar designs this line of get-well-soon, post-plastic surgery cards. After searching in vain for cards to send to her newly sculpted friends, she decided to fill the void with cards that cover all the basics: face-lifts (I thought you needed a lift. … But it looks like your plastic surgeon already took care of you), liposuction (I thought we could sit around and chew the fat. … But since you just had liposuction that’s probably not a good idea), nose jobs (Your nose looks great! … You picked a good one) and, of course, boob jobs (Congratulations on the twins. … They make a good addition to the family).

These cards are perfect for whenever you care enough to send the very breast. If nothing else, their illustrations of wildly well-endowed stick figures will augment the healing process and bring a smile to the recipients face–unless of course, she had a Botox treatment.

Pop culture is also getting into the act with a host of websites devoted to celebrity plastic surgery speculation. Television shows like “Nip/Tuck,” “Dr. 90210,” “Extreme Makeover,” “A Plastic Surgery Story” and “I Want a Famous Face” and magazines like “Skin Deep,” “New Beauty” and “Elevate” are all devoted to cosmetic surgery. There’s even a brand-new world of plastic slang, like “lipo-lizards,” for people who have had so much surgery that their skin looks reptilian, “kabuki mask,” for a face so expressionless that it looks like a lacquered mask, and “trout pout,” for fishlike, overly plumped-up lips.

And finally there’s the perfect gift item for those of us who are still hoping to age gracefully. With the voo doo doll woman by, you can transform any bulge or sag just by pushing a pin in the appropriate spot (double chin, pot belly, sagging boobs, etc.). At $22 it’s a bargain worth trying.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on April 25, 2008.

Cocktail Corner: Loving Limoncellotinis

Limoncellotinis combine Limoncello and Vodka to create a deliciously refreshing cocktail. (courtesy photo)

Limoncellotinis combine Limoncello and Vodka to create a deliciously refreshing cocktail. (courtesy photo)

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

As we like to say around here, when life gives you lemons … make Limoncello!

An Italian lemon liqueur that is traditionally made from lemon zest steeped in grain alcohol (also known as the deadly Everclear to those of you who went to college frat parties) until the sunny yellow oils are released, then mixed with a simple syrup to create a strong, sweet lemony digestif, Limoncello is delicious all by itself on the rocks and—as I recently discovered—even more deletable when combined with Vodka to create a Limoncellotini.

Although widely available at our local bars and restaurants, I actually traveled to Portland (no, sadly not the Amalfi Coast) to try this refreshing summer sip at the wonderful a Cena Ristorante last week. Talk about a match made in heaven! The Limoncellotini (featuring the restaurant’s house-made Limoncello) paired delightfully well with the house-made Agnolotti pasta, featuring corn and mascarpone raviolini and butter-poached Maine lobster.

My mouth waters just typing those words, that’s how good it was!

Luckily for us, California lobster season is coming up soon, plus we also have the wonderful Ventura Limoncello Company right in our backyard, and plenty of convenient locations stock this regional delicacy, including The Biltmore Four Seasons Resort, Crocodile Restaurant, Maggie’s at State & A, Olio e Limone Ristorante, TOMA and Tydes Restaurant & Bar at the Coral Casino, among others.

If you want to make your own Limoncellotini at home, recipes vary from the simple (combine one part Limoncello with two parts Vodka and shake) to extremely complicated variations involving flavored Vodkas, fresh juices, edible flowers and magic spells. OR here’s a simple video explanation from the Ventura Limoncello Company and Lure Fish House.

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.

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.”

Leslie Dinaberg Sits Down With Gayle Beebe

Gayle Beebe, courtesy Westmont College

Gayle Beebe, courtesy Westmont College

When Gayle Beebe is inaugurated as the eighth president of Westmont College this weekend, he’ll speak on a subject dear to his heart: Global Education. But prior to that, he spoke to us about life at the college, his family, how he’s adapting to Santa Barbara, and Westmont’s facility upgrades.

LD: How did you end up in Santa Barbara?

GB: Years ago I was a consortium exchange student here … I really liked it and it really gave me a great vision for what my life could be. I never dreamed I would come back in this capacity, but quite a way down the road a position opened up. I was in a presidency at Spring Arbor University in Michigan. … I have always been kind of intrigued with Westmont, so it was just a great opportunity to serve others.

LD: Have you always felt you were called to academia?

GB: You know, not initially. I actually started out in ministry. I went to Princeton Theological Seminary after I was a student here and I was a pastor for five years …then did a dual degree in philosophy of religion and theology and business administration and strategic management at Claremont Graduate University.

… In 1992 I started working with Azusa Pacific University (as dean of the graduate school of theology) … that’s when I starting thinking academics and really enjoyed it a ton and then went from being a dean to being the president of Spring Arbor in 2000 and just enjoyed that kind of work.

LD: It’s interesting hearing about your background because it seems like a perfect fit for where you are now.

GB: Westmont has so many great strengths and first and foremost …it’s been a great experience, wonderful faculty, great students and a strong financial base. We need to strengthen the endowment but it’s strong. It’s a beautiful campus, with phase one construction coming, we’re excited to have an even more beautiful campus, great location, you know every constituent really loves Westmont. The community does, the board of trustees does, the alums do. … It’s just neat.

LD: So you’re in phase one of the construction?

GB: The beginning of that. We’re hoping to start construction this October and you know, there’s been litigation. We have a group that’s opposing us and we’re just working through all of that.

LD: Is it basically a facility upgrade as opposed to an expansion?

GB: We are not allowed to add any students. It is truly an effort to get a state-of-the-art campus. It’ll be marvelous but there is no interest, no conversation about raising the enrollment to above 1,200. I would like to long-term see us strengthen our global program because we have had some really unique distinct global programs and I’d just like to see us build those out more, but in terms of what happens in Montecito, we have 1,200 students.

LD: Assuming the lawsuit gets resolved, what visible changes will we be able to see on campus in the near future?

GB: We would like to get Adams Center for visual arts, our art program and studio. There will be a new chapel, the observatory, and a hall for math and science. Those will be additions. And then we’ll also be adding a dorm. We have a couple hundred students right now in triples and so we want to build an additional dorm so that we can have students housed in more conventional two to a room.

LD: Do all the students live here?

GB: Yes, they do. It’s one of our five planks in the mission statement … That residential piece I think is just so critical, it’s really important that the faculty live near the students so that they can have not just the contact during class but the informal contact with them away from class.

LD: Since you’ve taken over at the college, what’s been your biggest surprise so far?

GB: You know there’s no earth shattering surprises. The biggest surprise has been all of the conditions with phase one construction. I believe there are 116 conditions and it’s the way that they work out with each other. …They didn’t all get negotiated at once; they got negotiated over a seven-year period. I mean it’s a true act of perseverance that we got to this point.

LD: Do you have is there a facilities manager that oversees this?

GB: Yes, Randy Jones is our campus architect. The people who were here, Stan Gaede was the president and Ron Cronk was the VP of Finance. Ron really ran point on this and really shepherded it. Cliff Lundberg, the executive vice president has been deeply involved in it and Cliff is still here, and then my new VP of finance, Doug Jones, has really taken major responsibility for the operation of phase one. Doug came with me from Michigan. He’s just a brilliant, guy, great judgment, really hard worker.

LD: That’s a big project to take on.

GB: It is. We did a ton of building at Spring Arbor, we added 14 new buildings and remodeled 11 others and Doug oversaw all of those.

LD: Other than this the construction, what do you see as your biggest challenge?

GB: Every place has unique challenges and I think that there’s no reason to overreact … I think what we have to do is figure out how we’re going to space this so we have enough time to give us the biggest opportunity of raising the money we need and not for so long that one of the problems with building is you get inflation. If you don’t start building, eventually you lose so much from year to year that you will never catch up.

LD: It sounds like you’re very busy working, but what else do you like to do when you’re not working?

GB: Well I love being with my family, my children and being part of their sports and their academics, along with my wife. We enjoy going to the movies and I enjoy golfing. I enjoy going to the beach. … If I can find an excuse to drive Cabrillo along the beach from downtown I will, because I just love driving even that little stretch of East Beach. It’s just so inspiring.

LD: Is there sort of a first lady role for your wife at Westmont?

GB: There is and she helps and is the presence of the college at different events and on boards and committees. That hasn’t started in a huge way yet, but by the time we were done in Michigan that was a huge part of her job. I know her time here will continue to become more and more committed. It’s been great to have her more available this first year. She does a great job and to my benefit she just loves family and she’s great with people. People just love her and she’s great with them.

LD: If you could pick three adjectives to describe yourself, what would they be?

GB: Energetic, fun loving and determined.

LD: If you could be invisible anywhere in Santa Barbara, where would you go and what would you do?

GB: I would probably go to East Beach and read a book

Vital Stats: Gayle Beebe

Born: Born and raised in Eugene, Oregon.

Family: Wife Pam; children Anna, age 15; Elizabeth (Liz), age 13; and Richard (Ricky), age 9.

Civic Involvement: The Channel Club, Santa Barbara Partners in Education.

Professional Accomplishments: President of Westmont College; former President of Spring Arbor University; former Dean of the graduate school of theology at Azusa Pacific University.

Little Known Fact: “I played the cello for seven years, I also play the piano.”

Originally published in Noozhawk on April 7, 2008

Cocktail Corner: Sama Sama Kitchen

Sama Sama Kitchen (courtesy photo)

Sama Sama Kitchen (courtesy photo)

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

My Indonesian is a little rusty, but I believe “sama sama” means “together or welcome,” or  (when someone says thank you), “my pleasure.”

Whatever it means, the addition of Sama Sama Kitchen to our downtown neighborhood (1208 State St., 805/965-4566)  is indeed our pleasure, especially now that the bar is open for business. Our Tuesday night sips included the delicious and refreshing Sama Sama cocktail made from bourbon, jasmine sweet tea and lemon, as well as their kicky version of now ubiquitous Moscow Mule, called a Mule Kick and made with Thai Chili, ginger-infused vodka, lime and ginger beer.

Both cocktails were yummy and paired well with the out-of-this world fabulous diver scallop dish on the menu that night. Inspired by Indonesian street food, everything on the menu is gorgeous and interesting and rather exotic. On previous visits I tried the Tempe Tacos (fabulous and flavorful) and the mouth-watering sweet corn fritters (called Perked El) which are unfortunately only on the lunch menu right now. Be sure to check the specials board, as Chef Ryan Simorangkir‘s “test kitchen” is always trying out something new and tasty.

Speaking of new and tasty, my co-workers highly recommend the Sama Sama Kitchen version of Sazerac, made with rye whiskey, Peychaud’s, palm syrup and served in a glass rimmed with herbsaint … so that one is definitely on my wish list for next time.


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.”

This column was originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.

Cocktail Corner: Viva la Fiesta!

Paradise Cafe Margarita, courtesy photo

Paradise Cafe Margarita, courtesy photo

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

Margaritas are part of the DNA of Santa Barbara and—along with buying Cascarones and seeing old friends—one of my favorite ways to celebrate Old Spanish Days. My son was born on July 27, 1999 and once I got over the initial euphoria, the first thing I wanted to do was drink a Margarita. After all it was Fiesta time and that’s how we do it around here.

There are lots of wonderful places to get Margaritas this weekend (and any weekend for that matter). Here are a few of my favorites downtown:

El Paseo Restaurant (813 Anacapa St.) is one of the oldest and best places to celebrate Fiesta, and their El Paseo Margarita, made with Hornitos, Citronage and Grand Marnier always yummy. Rumor has it my late father-in-late was known to drink these out of lovely seniorita’s shoes during particularly lively Fiesta celebrations. I guess we’ll never know, but the legend lives on.

Carlitos Cafe Y Cantina (1324 State St.) also has terrific Margaritas made with fresh juices, not to mention a fun patio for people watching.

You also can’t beat the beautiful Spanish-influenced interiors of Cadiz (509 State St.)  for cocktails, and their Margaritas are sublime.

Paradise Cafe (702 Anacapa St.), as I’ve written before, has simple, straightforward and consistently delicious Paradise Margaritas, poured straight up on the rocks, with Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila.

Casa Blanca, (330 State St.) with its intricate tile work, is one of the most beautiful restaurants in town. Try the Prickly Pear Margarita for special treat, made with El Charro Reposado Tequila, fresh prickly pear and a dash of triple sec, lemonade, fresh squeezed OJ and fresh squeezed lime.

Cielito Restaurant in La Arcada (1114 State St.) has a to-die-for Millionaire Margarita made with Don Julio 1942, Grand Marnier 100-year and fresh lime juice on the rocks but if the $35 price is too steep for you, I also recommend their spectacular Blackberry Margarita, made with Peligroso Blanco, Leopold’s Rocky Mountain Blackberry, fresh lime juice and agave syrup.

With a name like Blue Agave (20 E. Cota St.) it’s no surprise that this place has a long menu of Margaritas. Try the Guava Margarita (Guavarita?) for a delicious fruity variation of the classic.

No matter which direction your taste buds take you, all of these Margaritas taste exactly like a Margarita should: with enough tang to make your lips pucker, enough sweetness to make everyone look prettier and enough Tequila to make your companions smarter, more and wittier, if not downright hilarious.

Via la!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally appeared in Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.

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.”