Cocktail Corner: Tasty Tidbits

The Lark, courtesy photo.

The Lark, courtesy photo.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

I can’t believe that summer is almost over. There’s been a lot of news on the bar beat the last few months. Here are some highlights:                

One of Santa’s Barbara’s favorite dining destinations, The Lark (131 Anacapa St.), was recognized by Wine Enthusiast in their sixth annual issue of the “Best Places to Drink Up In While Dining Out.” As a winner of the “Not to be Missed” category, The Lark was recognized for their outstanding wine program curated by Wine Directors Chris Robles and Vern Kettler. The wine list at the Lark focuses on smaller production wines made with minimal intervention from the winemaker, and which reflect a sense of place. Grape varieties for which the Santa Barbara area is known and their international counterparts are the focus. With few exceptions, all American wines are from Santa Barbara County. Wine Enthusiast editors state that “Chef Jason Paluska’s wine friendly foods are inspired by farmers’ markets—smoked pork belly, for example, might come with roasted berries, pickled summer peppers and candied brittle of fat local almonds.” The Lark is the only recipient from Santa Barbara this year, and one of 22 restaurants awarded in California. See the full list here. 

J. Wilkes Wines, courtesy photo.

J. Wilkes Wines, courtesy photo.

J. Wilkes Wines has opened a new tasting room in downtown Los Olivos at 2963 Grand Ave.  The space highlights a distinct wine tasting experience including educational aspects focusing on the region’s unique AVA’s, an entertaining quiz and private Winemaker Office Hours with winemaker Wes Hagen

The J.Wilkes brand was launched in 2001 by wine industry veteran Jefferson Wilkes and after his passing in 2010, the label was relaunched by the Miller Family, a fifth-generation California farming family, as a tribute to Jefferson’s unwavering love of the region.  J. Wilkes, under the guidance of accomplished winemaker Hagen, is dedicated to producing wines from the greatest American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) on the Central Coast.  Their new tasting room and education center in Los Olivos boasts an experience that gives insight into these regions and their wines and provides visitors with information about the area’s AVA’s including Santa Maria Valley, Sta. Rita Hills and Paso Robles.  

At long last, bottles of Cutler’s spirits are now available for purchase in the tasting room.

Cutler courtesy photo

Ian Cutler, courtesy photo

You can now come directly to the distillery to purchase your local favorite spirits. Personally, I’m partial to the spicy, cinnamon-tastic, delicious Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie Liqueur,  but Cutler’s Artisan Spirits also has its own Gin, Vodka and 33 Bourbon Whiskey, all of which are high quality and locally produced. (the tasting room and distillery is at 137 Anacapa St., Suite D, in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone).

Some of the fare at Lama Dog and the Nook, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Some of the fare at Lama Dog and the Nook, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.




The first two tenants at The Waterline, a commercial mixed-use project at 116-122 Santa Barbara St. in the Funk Zone, have opened for business and both have quickly become local favorites: the Nook by Master Chef Norbert Schulz, and Lama Dog Tap Room and Bottle Shop. Craft beers (and a few wines) paired with fabulous, high quality food is a win-win for the area. Try the House-Made Bratwurst or the Rock Fish Tacos with one of 20 interesting rotating beers on tap.

Ah … it’s a great way to keep that summer feeling going all year long!

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 September 2, 2016.