Thanks to the abundance of locally grown produce and herbs, easy access to artisanal spirits and a creative force of masterful mixologists, Santa Barbara’s bars and restaurants are always serving up innovative and delicious craft cocktails. “The Official Drink of Santa Barbara Cocktail Contest” presented by Visit Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Independent and Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara raised the bar even higher—more than a dozen local restaurants and bars battled it out to claim “The Official Drink of Santa Barbara” title for 2017. “Ginspiration Point” by Alcazar Tapas Bar was crowned the ultimate winner and the refreshing cocktail is now on the menu at Alcazar and its sister restaurant and bar, milk & honey.
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Below we share a round up of the top five contest finalists’ mouthwatering entries with recipes and the inspiration behind each cocktail. Each uses a liquor base from Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, a craft distillery based in the Funk Zone, as well as fresh fruit and herbs sourced from local farms and other unique ingredients with Santa Barbara roots. Contestants also took inspiration from Santa Barbara’s dramatic landscapes and architectural landmarks to capture the city’s one-of-a-kind sense of place. So, if you can’t make it to Santa Barbara to belly up to one of these bars immediately, channel your own inner mix-master and enjoy these Santa Barbara-inspired sips in the comfort of your own home…while dreaming up your next adventure on The American Riviera®!
Ginspiration Point by Alcazar Tapas Bar –
The Official Drink of Santa Barbara 2017
“Ginspiration Point” is an homage to Inspiration Point, one of the most famous—and famously beautiful—hiking trails in Santa Barbara’s foothills. The refreshing, citrus-forward cocktail is dominated by locally sourced ingredients, from the base spirit, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits Gin, to the locally produced Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Shrub by Nostrum. Alvaro Rojas, owner of Alcazar Tapas Bar who created the drink, shares his inspiration: “Like Santa Barbara’s rich paradise, ‘Ginspiration Point’ echoes a lush variety of flavors, textures and tones. This beautiful cocktail is complex, unique and robust but also easygoing and effortlessly elegant. Thus, the feelings and flavors our cocktail conjures are analogous to the Santa Barbara community’s zest for life and affection for the beauty and variety we experience with our climate, culture and outdoor life.”
1 ½ oz Cutler’s Gin
¼ oz Bénédictine
¾ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Chartreuse
½ oz Nostrum Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Shrub
1 Egg White
Earthtrine Farm Rosemary Flowers
Earthtrine Farm Mint Lime Zest
1. Combine Cutler’s Gin, Bénédictine, lime juice, Chartreuse and Nostrum Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Shrub in shaker tin with ice.
2. Dry shake one egg white in separate shaker tin.
3. Add ingredients from step one to egg white tin and shake until frothy.
4. Strain into a coupe or Nick & Nora glass.
5. Garnish with rosemary flowers, lime zest and mint leaves.
“The Passion of the Pacific” by Rodney’s Grill, The Fess Parker
“The Passion of the Pacific” blends passion fruit from the Santa Barbara Farmers’ Market with Cutler’s Artisan Spirits 33 Bourbon, taking inspiration from Santa Barbara’s Spanish heritage and the “endless summer” feeling of paradise the town evokes today. Spanish missionaries used passion fruit as a symbol of the crucifixion and the fruit’s indescribable, addictive flavor invites cravings similar to the spell Santa Barbara has been known to cast on residents and visitors alike. Ashlin Pittman, who created the drink for Rodney’s Grill at The Fess Parker: A DoubleTree by Hilton Resort, describes the flavor profile: “The bourbon really delivers the burn that you are looking for in a craft cocktail and the passion fruit brings an especially bright and exciting taste to the palate. And what better word to describe our city than ‘passion?!’”
1 ½ oz Cutler’s 33 Bourbon
¾ oz Triple Sec
¾ oz Passion Fruit (with seeds)
½ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Honey
2 Dashes House-Made Orange Bitters
Pinch of Brown Sugar
¼ oz 100 Proof Spirit
Long Lemon Twist (optional)
Muddle passion fruit, including seeds, with honey and lemon.
Add bourbon, triple sec and bitters; shake vigorously.
Pour into chilled rocks glass.
Garnish with long lemon twist (optional), with a half (empty) passion fruit filled with brown sugar and 100 proof spirit; set aflame.
Serve with large straw so passion fruit seeds may be enjoyed as part of the cocktail.
“La Reina” by Boathouse
“La Reina” embodies the city’s history, architecture and culture and celebrates the “Queen of the Missions,” one of Santa Barbara’s most iconic landmarks founded by Spanish missionaries in 1786. Boathouse Bartender Nick Priedite riffed on the 19th century American cocktail, the Sherry Cobbler—a drink that was created due to lowered import tariffs on Spanish sherry and the limited production of local wine—and gave it a spirit driven twist. With Cutler’s Artisan Spirits Gin as the foundation, he created a custom cordial with tangerine and lime, adding the sweet spice of pink peppercorn for depth. Manzanilla Fino sherry, produced in a small coastal Spanish town similar to Santa Barbara, was incorporated for its saline profile evocative of coastal sea spray. Lastly, as a nod to the wooden features and age of the Mission, the flor (yeast) of sherry lends a woody flavor and aroma. As Nick sums it up: “All together, a crisp and refreshing perspective of Santa Barbara’s historical identity is presented in a glass.”
1 ½ oz Cutler’s Gin
½ oz Dios Baco Buleria Fino Manzanilla Sherry
1 oz Citrus & Pink Peppercorn Cordial*
½ oz Lime Juice
*6-8 Medium Tangerines; 5-7 Limes; Raw Turbinado Sugar; Pink Peppercorns
Prepare Citrus & Pink Peppercorn Cordial: Zest citrus being mindful not to include too much of the white pith of the peel. Reserve peels. Juice citrus and reserve in a small saucepan adding an equivalent amount of sugar depending upon your juice yield. Heat mixture on low heat and continue to stir just until the sugar has dissolved. Take off heat, add peppercorns and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, express peels into the mixture and roughly chop and stir into the mixture. Place cordial into an airtight container and refrigerate for 24 hours, or overnight at minimum. Once the mixture has steeped, strain through a fine chinois and keep refrigerated for up to 10 days.
In a tall Collins glass, add fresh lime juice, citrus cordial, Manzanilla Sherry and Cutler’s Gin.
Fill glass with crushed ice and stir for 10-15 seconds until chilled and slightly diluted.
Top with more crushed ice and garnish with a mint bouquet, cherry and citrus wheel.
Montecito by Loquita
A hand crafted gin martini using locally sourced ingredients specific to Santa Barbara, the “Montecito” features Cutler’s Artisan Spirits Gin plus Priorat, Vermouth, Absinthe and Elderflower. Loquita Bartender Gavin Koehn celebrated Santa Barbara’s heritage by stirring in Spanish rosé vermouth from Priorat, which adds an herbaceous depth to the drink. A dash of St-Germain lends a hint of sweetness while serving as a tribute to the elderflower liqueur’s creator, Robert J Cooper, who lived and died in Santa Barbara. Capturing the fresh green smell of fennel that wafts through the air in the Montecito foothills, a mist of Absinthe is washed over the glass after the cocktail is strained in. Finally, a lemon twist is expressed over the top to draw out the local citrus flavors of Cutler’s Gin.
1 ½ oz Cutler’s Gin
1 ½ oz Priorat Natur Vermouth
¼ oz St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Combine gin, Vermouth and St-Germain.
Stir with ice for 30 seconds.
Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Spray two spritzes of Absinthe mist on top.
Finish with a lemon twist.
“TRUE NORTH, The Quintessential Santa Barbara Cocktail” by Olio e Limone Santa Barbara
Named after Captain Salisbury Haley, who surveyed the streets of Santa Barbara and was responsible for quirks like the lack of a true north-south-east-west grid, “TRUE NORTH, The Quintessential Santa Barbara Cocktail” was created by Santa Barbara native Rich Hollowell, General Manager of Olio e Limone, Olio Crudo Bar and Olio Pizzeria®. True to the Olio restaurant group’s hybrid Italian and Santa Barbara roots, the cocktail incorporates Olio’s own olive oil, organic apple cider vinegar produced by Santa Barbara-headquartered Bragg Live Food Products and St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur—another tribute to the liqueur’s creator, a fellow UCSB alum. As Hollowell describes the drink, which makes a perfect aperitif and also pairs well with seafood: “The nose on the cocktail is fresh mint with apple cider. The wonderfully balanced elderflower finish has a tangy after taste that will make you crave another.”
3 oz Cutler’s Gin
½ oz Lime Shrub*
¼ oz Mint & Blackberry Simple Syrup** ½ oz St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
¼ oz Lime Juice
*Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar; Organic Probiotic Lime Preserve from Fermentata; and Olio e Limone Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
**Lane Farms Mint & Blackberries; sugar
Prepare Shrub: Combine Bragg apple cider vinegar, organic lime preserve and Olio extra-virgin olive oil into a chamber vacuum bag. Chamber vacuum and sous-vide at 140 degrees for three hours.
Prepare Mint & Blackberry Simple Syrup: Add equal parts of sugar and water in a sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add blackberries when mixture becomes hot. When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Then, use a fork to break up blackberries. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to complete the process.
Add all ingredients into a shaker full of ice. Shake and double strain into a coupe glass.
While each of these cocktail can be recreated at home, we encourage you savor these signature sips in the destination that inspired their creation, Santa Barbara, The American Riviera®.