A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg
Five years ago, Miró restaurant bartender Nanette Rapuzzi came with big dreams from her native Peru—where she trained at the front desk of another five-star resort—to work at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara.
“I love working with people. I always have. People on vacation, or enjoying themselves at a beautiful resort, are always so happy,” says the bubbly blonde, who started out at the Bacara’s front desk but soon asked for opportunity to train as a bartender. Her goal, generously supported by hotel management, is to work in many different aspects of the hotel business and ultimately to own and run her own resort in Peru.
“But I want something a bit smaller than the scale of the Bacara,” she laughs.
Currently enrolled in the Santa Barbara City College School of Culinary Arts and Hotel Management Program, a unique local program which develops skills and competencies for positions in the hospitality industry and is recognized nationally as a leading center for hospitality training, Rapuzzi is on her way to making her long-term dream come true.
Meanwhile, she has a smaller, but still impressive ambition: to win Restaurant Hospitality’s Best Cocktail in America Contest.
“You know how Cosmopolitans are so popular … I’d like for my drink to be the next Cosmopolitan,” says Rapuzzi. “But I think people are ready for something a little less sweet and more refreshing, that was my inspiration for this drink.”
The “Ticket to Paradise,” whose name was inspired by the glorious panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, which is always visible from her perch at Miró Bar, is the one that Rapuzzi hopes will be her ticket to national cocktail fame and glory. The cocktail is made with muddled cucumbers, Hendricks Gin, St. Germain and a splash of fresh lime juice, and served either straight up in a Martini glass or on the rocks.
We tried it both ways. I preferred the rocks and my husband liked it straight up. Either way, the drink is absolutely delicious and refreshing! Gin isn’t usually my spirit of choice, but the cucumber, citrus and St. Germain balance it out perfectly. Try the Ticket to Paradise with the museum-worthy fruit and cheese plate, featuring edible flowers and a pretty Pistachio emulsion—it was almost too lovely to eat (but somehow we managed).
Meanwhile our fingers—and swizzle sticks—are crossed that Rapuzzi’s drink brings home big honors. We’ll keep you posted.
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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.”