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: 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.

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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.”