Cocktail Corner: Getting Pickled!

2015 Screamin’ Pickle Fermented Cocktail Competition takes place on Sept. 8. Courtesy photo.

2015 Screamin’ Pickle Fermented Cocktail Competition takes place on Sept. 8. Courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Here’s a fun challenge for home bartenders. Local amateur cocktail artists are invited to enter the Screamin’ Pickle Fermented Cocktail Competition. Co-sponsored by Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, The Good Lion  and the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, contestants must sign up by Friday, September 4.

The competition will be held at The Good Lion on Tuesday, September 8.

The contest encourages participants to craft innovative cocktails featuring Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, paired with traditionally fermented mixers such as shrubs, raw apple cider vinegar, kombucha, beet kvass, ginger soda, kimchi, sauerkraut juice, fermented fruit and other creative libations.

The winning cocktail artist gets bragging rights, as well as the coveted Screamin’ Pickle Award at a ceremony at the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, and will also have his or her cocktail featured byThe Good Lion in the Farm-to-Bar Area of the festival.

Ian Cutler, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits owner and distiller, came up with the contest as a creative way to bring together local spirits created by fermented grains with local mixers also created by the process of fermentation. When he shared his idea with The Good Lion proprietor Brandon Ristaino and Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival Co-Founder Katie Hershfelt, the trio decided they had to make it happen. “We couldn’t be more excited to challenge our fellow cocktail enthusiasts and spread the wild world of fermentation to a wider audience,” Hershfelt says.

Contestants can enter by contacting Cutler at by Friday, September 4. Ten slots are available on a first come, first served basis.

Competition and judging by a panel of prominent industry experts will take place at The Good Lion on Tuesday, September 8 [event is closed to the public]. First, Second and Third Place winners will be announced and receive their prizes at the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival Kick-Off Party at The Good Lion on Tuesday, September 15, at 6:30 p.m. [which is open to the public].

The First Place Cocktail will be served at Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival at Rancho La Patera & Stow House in Goleta on Sunday, September 20 from noon to 4 p.m. (A ticket is required to gain access to the tasting area).

For more information and to purchase tickets to the festival, visit, follow them on Facebook at or email


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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 August 28, 2015.