Cocktail Corner

Cheers Cocktail Image by Derek Johnson

Cheers Cocktail Image by Derek Johnson

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

Biltmore Summer Tasting Series

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara’s Summer Tasting Series returns on May 19 with a new lineup of the best local purveyors, distillers and winemakers. The series kicks off on Friday, from 6-9 p.m. with MASTER DISTILLERS.

Pairing Wine and Sushi

Wine and sushi were a match made in Happy Canyon heaven—I’m still dreaming about a once-in-a-lifetime amazing meal I shared recently at Dierberg & Star Lane Vineyards.

Test Your Taste Buds

Are you curious to learn all about the secrets behind recognizing a wine from just a glance and a taste? Next week, on Thursday, May 18, you can try your skills at blind tasting. Starting at 6 p.m. at Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant (131 Anacapa St., Ste. B),  Advanced Sommelier Emily Johnston leads a fun, interactive event that is open to everyone at any level of wine knowledge.

New Luna Terraza at the Biltmore

One of the swankiest spots in town, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, got even more wow-worthy with the recently opened Luna Terraza, which offers an exclusive and intimate outdoor private space just outside of the recently renovated Ty Lounge.

Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro

I pride myself on being a bit of a cocktail connoisseur, but last week I saw one of the cleverest cocktail embellishments I’ve seen: a little rubber ducky floating in the Bathtub Martini at the new Bottlest Winery Bar & Bistro in Buellton.

Easter Dining and a Toast to Spring!

Spring is in the air, so what better time to sample some of the lovely new libations at our local watering holes. Hop on over and give these spring cocktails and dining options a taste.

Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend

If your ideal weekend involves food, wine and philanthropy in a beautiful setting, then the 4th Annual Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend April 7-9 at the Bacara Resort & Spa is the spring event for you.

Garagiste Wine Festival

April Fools’ Day is coming soon, and what better way to celebrate the lighter side of life than one of my favorite wine festivals: the 2017 Garagiste Wine Festival: Southern Exposure.

Walt Wines

Wines of a Place” was the theme for a recent media event put on by Walt Wines, and this place was certainly a beauty!

Beer and (Big) Bites in Buellton

The kitchen is now open at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company (45 Industrial Way, Buellton) and as Executive Chef Brian Champlin vowed, this place definitely has, as he modestly states, “under-promised and over-delivered!”

Solomon Hills Estate Wines Served at State Department Dinner

Talk about a sweet honor! On Valentines Day, Santa Barbara County’s Solomon Hills Estate wines were served at a dinner hosted by the U.S. Secretary of State in honor of His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

Brunch at Finch & Fork

While nothing says “bloody good brunch” like a Bloody Mary, Finch & Fork bartender Joe Dohany has bumped it up a notch with some cocktails designed especially for day drinking.

In the Mood for Love

Love is in the air this month, with Valentine’s Day cocktail specials from some of our favorite mixologists. Want to get in the mood for Valentine’s Day?  Try Inconceivable! from Joe Dohany of Finch & Fork (31 W. Carrillo St. in the Canary Hotel).

Meet the Winemakers of Los Alamos

Take a road trip to Los Alamos next weekend when Bob’s Well Bread Bakery presents Meet the Winemakers of Los Alamos on Saturday, February 4.

Beer is Good for You!

We can all use some good news these days, so here goes. There’s yet another good reason to say cheers to beer! A study recently came across my desk that there is new research indicating that drinking beer may be good for your health.

Santa Barbara’s Official Drink Contest

Mirror, mirror on the wall. What’s the most “Santa Barbara-like” cocktail of all?

Not Vodka Water

This is the perfect week to rehydrate, right after the holidays when most of us are feeling a bit hungover, if not from alcohol then from food and festivities. I recently came across a fun and stylish reusable water bottle that only helps you hydrate yourself, it also helps hydrate humanity.

World of Pinot Noir Makes a Delicious Gift

If you’re looking to splurge on a gift for that special someone, who happens to be a wine lover, why not plan your Pinot Noir adventure together and take them to the World of Pinot!

Mussel Madness in Montecito

Mussels—which pair well with everything from wine and beer to G & T’s and Martinis—are in season year-round in California, and, in a nod to this bounty, Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore‘s new Executive Chef Marco Fossati has introduced an all new Mussel Madness Menu at Ty Lounge  on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3-10 p.m.

Champagne Tasting at First & Oak

Any event at Solvang’s First & Oak is sure to be a treat, and they’re upping their game even further for the holidays with a special Champagne Tasting event on December 10. The event, which runs from 1-3 p.m., includes tastes of ten sparkling wines and champagnes, and light hors d’oeuvres carefully-crafted by First & Oak’s Executive Chef Steven Snook to pair with the wines.

Figueroa Mountain Turns Six

Cheers to our friends at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, which, in just six short years, has grown from a small production facility and taproom in Buellton to a six-taproom, four-brewery operation with distribution throughout California, Arizona and soon expanding to additional states.

Hot Buttered Rum

These colder days put me in the mood for warmer drinks, like Hot Buttered Rum, a sweet, sentimental favorite that brings the flavors of fall to life. Our friends at Eureka! (601 Paseo Nuevo) have a tasty version available through Nov. 23 (which is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving). 

Let Your Mood Inspire Your Cocktail

Feeling adventurous, naughty, flirty, insecure, sentimental or stressed? Have we got a cocktail for you.

Welcoming Fall With Finch & Fork’s Joe Dohany

The spirits of fall are in the air, and Finch & Fork has a friendly new face behind the bar with an autumnal-inspired new menu. Joe Dohany—who most recently was a craft bartender at Shaker & Spear and Pennyroyal at Kimpton‘s Seattle property, The Palladian—is bringing a creative approach to the popular hotspot inside the downtown Santa Barbara Canary Hotel (31 W. Carrillo St.)

In the Beginning: The Early Years in the Santa Barbara Wine Country

The history of Santa Barbara County’s wine industry takes center stage at The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History on October 23, with an autumn symposium featuring an all-star panel of Santa Barbara winemakers.

Calivore Spirits

I had the opportunity to sample some spirits with Aaron Bergh this week, the “President & Commander-in-Mischief” of Calivore Spirits, a new California born and bred business specializing in regionally made liquor.

Celebration of Harvest Weekend

Our local winemakers have been hard at work amongst the vines, but now it’s time for them to take a break for the annual celebration of the year’s bounty. The annual Celebration of Harvest Weekend is a time to enjoy the fruits of those labors, when vintners pour their wines, and if you’re lucky, share their harvest tales with us.

Aperitifs That Play Well With Others

The French word apéritif, like its Italian counterpart, aperitivo, comes from the Latin aperire, meaning “to open.” These “alcoholic appetizers” are a European tradition, designed as delicious, low-alcohol lead-ins to a meal.

Tasty Tidbits

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.                

Fermentation Festival Kicks Off With a Mule of a Competition

The 6th annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival is coming up on Sept. 11, but first up is a pre-festival event called the Year of the Mule Cocktail Competition, from 5-8 p.m. on Aug. 30, at The Good Lion (1212 State St.).

Celebrate National Rum Day

I’ll take any excuse to celebrate with cocktails, and National Rum Day is a pretty darn good one. This annual holiday takes place on August 16, celebrating the sweet flavor and tropical spice tanginess of all things rum-related. Rum is the quintessential summer spirit, and these cocktail recipes, courtesy of Flor de Caña, are a great way to embrace and enjoy the last bit of summer. This family-owned company is celebrating 125 years of production of award-winning Nicaraguan rum. Try them out and let us know what you think.

Wine Meets Cocktails—and Mocktails—With Stolen Fruit

Winemakers have traditionally seduced delicious tastes from the vineyard and chefs blend verjus—the fresh pressed juice from green grapes, varietal grape juice, and grape skins—to bring flavor to the forefront of their creations. Now these same techniques have been used to craft a fun, new line of grape-based mixers: adding the nuance and complexity of wine grapes to a range of cocktails and mocktails.

Seek and Ye Shall Find

In search of a fun way to navigate Santa Barbara’s burgeoning craft beer scene? Last weekend we checked out the newly dubbed “Lagoon District” Lagoon Loop Craft Beer Trail with a package from Seeker (http://seeker.co/), and it was a surprisingly great way to do some beer tasting.

Americana Fest at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.

Get into the Independence Day spirit a little early this weekend, on Sunday, July 3, when Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company in Buellton presents Americana Fest, featuring live music, craft beer, barbecue and baked goods.

Central Coast Wine Classic Celebrates 31 Years of Delicious Indulgence

Archie McLaren‘s enthusiastic zest for food, wine, art and philanthropy is infectious! The Founder and Chairman of the Central Coast Wine Classic and I recently discussed his plans for this year’s impressive event, which takes place Aug. 10-14, and spans the Central Coast from San Simeon through Paso Robles, Shell Beach, Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande and Buellton to Santa Barbara.

Fess Parker’s New Spot to Sip by the Sea

There’s a great new addition to Santa Barbara’s waterfront area: Fess Parker Properties now has a tasting room right inside of the beachfront hotel, The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort.

Santa Barbara Wine Festival Gets Better With Age

Santa Barbara Wine Festival—the first festival of its kind on the Central Coast—returns for the 29th year, hosted by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (2559 Puesta Del Sol Rd.) on Saturday, June 25 from 2-5 p.m.

South African Wine Safari

Unfortunately, no passport was involved in my recent trip to South Africa’s wine country, but it was an exciting journey nonetheless. Last weekend I had the good fortune to attend “South Africa in Santa Barbara Day” at Les Marchands, alongside a slew of our region’s top wine and food mavens. Boy was it eye-opening! Our charming host Jim Clarke, Marketing Manager for Wines of South Africa USA, took us on a lovely trek through his home terrain.

Swirl & Sip Series on the Canary Rooftop

I jump at any opportunity to hang out at the rooftop at the Canary Hotel, which is one of the most exquisite—and exclusive—360-degree views of Santa Barbara. The scenery alone is enough to make me leap at any invitation to visit the roof, add in some terrific wines and nibbles at the popular Sip & Swirl and it’s hard to beat.

Summer Sips by the Sea

Situated perfectly overlooking Butterfly Beach and the sparkling Pacific Ocean, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is always a fabulous place to meet for drinks, but this summer will offer some extra special sipping opportunities.

2016 Live Downtown Art & Wine Tour

Art and wine are always an excellent pair, and this year’s2016 Downtown LIVE Art & Wine Tour is adding a fun new twist to the mix: Live Art!

S.Y. Kitchen’s Refreshing Spring Cocktails

Inspired by our warm, spring days, S.Y. Kitchen Mixologist Alberto Battaglini has added five creative new cocktails to the menu, all inspired by local market produce, herbs and botanicals.

Getting Fizzy With Sloe Gin

My first introduction to the Sloe Gin Fizz was a few decades ago at a football tailgate party in Berkley, Cal vs. UCLA. I don’t recall whether my Bruins won, but I can still remember my first delectable sip of that frothy and delicious Sloe Gin Fizz. It really is the perfect concoction for day drinking.

Que Syrah, Syrah

Fellow Syrah lovers, have we got a seminar for you. As part of the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend, on April 23, this special tasting seminar throws the spotlight on this dark, delicious, full-bodied grape.

Goodbar Grooviness

Goodbar, the Goodland Hotel’s super cool lounge, is shaking things this spring.  Here’s what they have going on.

Fork & Cork Classic to Benefit Foodbank

I love it when good causes and good food and wine come together. Such is the case with the 3rd annual Fork & Cork Classic to benefit Santa Barbara County Foodbank by pairing gourmet tastings with local wine to fund nutritious meals for Santa Barbara County residents.

Lots of Local Food & Libations

There are a lot of fun spring festivities going on in town this month. Here are few worth checking out.

The Wonderful World of Pinot Noir

The word Pinotphile may not roll off the tongue quite as sweetly as say, a 2012 Sta. Rita Hills Fess Parker Pinot Noir, but the World of Pinot Noir—which features Fess Parker among the more than 200 top interpreters of the grape—is quite a delicious event.

Valentine-Themed Specials

Not sure of your relationship status? Just in time for Valentine’s Day (Feb. 8-15), Eureka! is offering two new specialty themed cocktails—amusingly dubbed “Facebook Official” and “It’s Complicated”—to help you figure things out (or figure out that you don’t really need to know …).

Sip and Savor Valentine’s Day

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your true love, or a true friend, our local watering holes and restaurants are working overtime to make the holiday a memorable one. Here are a few ideas.

Valentine’s Weekend Garagiste Wine Festival

Wine and romance pair together so well, why not celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend at the fourth annual Garagiste Wine Festival Southern Exposure 2016.

They Draw and Cook—and Drink!

Aesthetically pleasing alcoholic beverages always perk my interest, so I was tickled when I stumbled across the websitetheydrawandcook.com, a creation of Salli S. Swindell and Nate Padavick, a brother/sister design and illustration team known as Studio SSS. In addition to loads of food, there are so many beautifully drawn cocktail recipes on this site I just had to learn more about it.

SB Premiere of SOMM: Into the Bottle

Wine and movies pair together exceptionally well—especially at the beautiful private screening room at the Bacara Resort & Spa, featuring blu-ray technology and a surround-sound audio system—so it’s fitting that this is the spot for the Santa Barbara movie premiere of SOMM: INTO THE BOTTLE, the sequel to the 2013 cult hit SOMM.

Why Wine is Good for You!

In honor of the holiday season, here are some reasons why wine is good for you!

Seasonal Cocktails at the Goodland & Potek Pop-Up

Goleta’s hippest hangout has upped its game even further recently, both The Goodbar and Outpost at the Goodland (5650 Calle Real, Goleta) have bold, fun new cocktail menus from lead bartender Chris Burmeister.

Jamming at The Lark

It takes an awfully inventive mind to look at a jar of jam or marmalade and envision a cocktail, but that’s exactly what those clever folks at The Lark have done, in partnership with Chapala Farms, and the results are quite unique—and delicious!

Drinking in the Nectar

Cota Street’s buzzy block east of State Street has great new addition to the scene with Nectar, a beautifully redone new eatery and lounge in the former Blue Agave space at 20 E. Cota St. They offer delicious, shareable plates—I absolutely loved the Pork Belly Potstickers, made with Kimchi, Tamari and Chinese Black Beans and the Smoked Paprika Almonds & Chorizo, as well as the Wild Salmon with Aji Mandarin, Baby Carrots, Black Kale, Couscous + Quinoa.

Value Blends From Qupe

We’ve longtime fans of Qupé wines at my house, so I was excited to hear that winemaker Bob Lindquist had a new duo of value blends available and couldn’t wait to try them. Thankfully, they didn’t disappoint. Both wines retail for about $16.

Cheers to Beer!

Beer and food pairings are all the rage, and not surprisingly, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, chef Kyle Jones of Country Catering and Wine + Beer at the Public Market are excited to get in on the action on Nov. 12.

Fall Flavors

A BOUNTY OF AUTUMNAL COCKTAIL FLAVORS AT S.Y. KITCHEN, FINCH & FORK AND INTERMEZZO

Art, Libations and Music on the Edge

Make a splash next weekend at Goleta’s Goodland Hotel when art meets music, libations, food and creative fun with a poolside “play with your food” interactive brunch on Saturday, Oct. 17. It’s all part of MCA Santa Barbara‘s second annual On the Edge Festival, which brings internationally renowned performance artists to Santa Barbara this month.

Tasting Notes

CHEERS TO M. SPECIAL BREW CO., BIEN NACIDO/SOLOMON HILLS ESTATE TASTING ROOM, STANDING SUN … THE BODEGA, THE GOOD LION, GLOBE, THE NUGGET, LES MARCHANDS AND MORE!

A Veritable Buffet of Vino News and Events

I don’t know if it’s the early harvest, the crazy weather, or just that time of year, but my inbox is bursting with wine news these days. We’re barking about a taste of Verona at the Bacara, Doug Margerum’s new Barden wines, Groundboots charity wine label and Wandering Dog Wine Bar’s new vintages in today’s Cocktail Corner.

Toasting Mexican Independence Day

Cinco De Mayo (commemorating the Mexican army’s victory under General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862)  gets a lot of attention (not to mention happy hour specials), but the most important national holiday in Mexico is actually Mexican Independence Day, celebrated September 16 with plenty of festive parades, parties, food and of course, tequila!

Labor Day Libations

Savor the last sips of summer this weekend with some delicious, refreshing Labor Day cocktails! Here are a few recipes to get your creative juices flowing.

Getting Pickled!

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.

Tequila Harvest Festival

Our local schools may start next week, but the summer celebrations continue. More than 20 tequila and mezcal brands will be pouring at the 6th Annual Santa Barbara Tequila Harvest Festival on Saturday August 29.

Potek Winery Launches in The Mill

It seems rather fitting that Dave Potter‘s new wine venture, Potek Winery, is the first of several farm-to-table ventures launching inThe Mill. If you haven’t heard about Darrell and Kirsten Becker‘s cool new project, trust me, you will! Located at the corner of Laguna and Haley streets, The Mill is a stunning modern spin on The Feed Mill originally constructed in 1904 by the Boykin family and now converted into a very unique artisan marketplace with onsite manufacturing.

Wine & Fire

A weekend filled to the brim with world class wines and wood grilled food awaits Aug. 14-16 in Sta. Rita Hills. The Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance is pulling out all the stops for this annual event. It’s actually a series of intimate wine and food experiences, all of which sound amazing.

California Wine Festival, Bacon & Barrels and More!

California Wine Festival returns to Santa Barbara this week (July 16-18), bringing the opportunity to sip and savor nearly 250 wines from over 70 wineries and 30 fine dining restaurants and gourmet food purveyors. This festival was recently named one of the 2015 Top Culinary Festivals and Wine Events around the U.S. and the World by Gayot.

Also back in town next weekend is Bacon & Barrels, which moves to Buttonwood Farm this year. Named “Top Bacon Festival in the U.S.” by A Luxury Blog, and “Top 5 California Festival” by The Huffington Post, the three-day event is a must-attend for bacon obsessed foodies and those who prefer their drinks from a barrel.

Festive Drinks for the Fourth

What better time to raise a glass than on the 4th of July. Here a few fun recipes to impress your guests, both this weekend and throughout the entire summer!

A New Chapter in Cool Cocktails at CPK

Trust me, I do realize that cool cocktails are not the first thing you think of when you think of California Pizza Kitchen, but a recent foray to check out their updated decor and menu (both of which are swell) yielded some surprisingly creative and fun libations on the cocktail menu, as well as in the kitchen!

Santa Barbara Wine Festival

The beautiful grounds of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History are a wonderful spot to appreciate being out in nature, and what better way to enjoy a summer weekend than sipping wine underneath the oaks along Mission Creek? Especially when the proceeds go to support the work of the museum.

SB Passport … to Libations!

As far as I’m concerned, there’s almost nothing better than the buzzy fun of enjoying summertime cocktails with friends—but one thing that does beat that is getting a great DEAL on summertime cocktails with friends.There’s a new player in town—The Santa Barbara Passport—that offers great deals on drinks this summer.

 

Passport Weekend at the Urban Wine Trail

Have you been wanting to check out what’s new on Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail? If so, then the upcoming passport weekend (June 5-7) is your perfect opportunity.

California Directory of Fine Wineries

The newest volume of The California Directory of Fine Wineries: Central Coast Edition (Wine House Press) takes a good thing and improves upon it, which isn’t always that easy to do.

Carr Winery’s New CrossHatch Label

Creativity can often come from shaking things up a bit, which is exactly what winemaker Ryan Carr has done with his new label, CrossHatch, a project focusing on co-fermented blends from Santa Barbara County vineyards. After making only single varietal wines for 11 years, Ryan wanted to try something different. He and his wife Jessica came up with the idea of CrossHatch, inspired by cross hatching,  an artistic technique that uses closely spaced intersecting lines to create shading, definition, and form in a drawing.

Lights, Camera, Cocktails

Combining food and wine with photography is a great way to tour Santa Barbara, even for locals. We recently went on the new Eat This, Shoot That! trek through the Presidio neighborhood and the new Wine Collection of El Paseo and it was so much fun.

Brunch at the Outpost

While I’m not quite one of those people who believe that brunch without booze is just a sad, late breakfast, I do believe that just about everything is better with bacon, especially day drinking! Outpost, at the Goodland Hotel in Goleta, is a great place to hang out any time of day, but their recently added brunch is particularly delish

Good Wines, Good Causes

Santa Barbara winemakers are a generous bunch. They constantly get hit up to donate wine to charitable events, and do so with stunning regularity, often pouring the wine themselves, and always with affable smiles on their faces. A few causes that are particularly near and dear to the wine/food community have their own fundraising events coming up soon, and lucky us, we get to sip and savor and support them in style!

Wine Notes

Purely by coincidence, I spent the last two weekends tasting a number of limited production wines—while the number of bottles may be small, their variety is large and their quality is excellent.

When Life Gives You Lemons

When life you gives you lemons, they may as well be pretty in pink! Lemons mostly come in shades of  yellow, but Limoneira Company—a 120-year-old international agribusiness headquartered just down the road in Santa Paula—has a beautiful line of variegated pink lemons and an array of delicious pink lemon cocktails designed just for them by mixologists across the country.

Lots of Ways to Eat, Drink and Make Merry

There’s no shortage of fun wine, beer and cocktail events in Santa Barbara County, but the next few weeks are particularly eventful. Here’s a look at some of the toast-worthy happenings.

Martini Time at Holdren’s 

“Martinis are the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet.” —H. L. Mencken

Primavera in Winter at SBMA’s Atelier

Santa Barbara Museum of Art‘s Atelier cocktail parties are always a feast for the senses, and Atelier: Primavera in Winter, which celebrates everything Italian—including the fabulous exhibition of Botticelli, Titian and Beyond: Masterpieces of Italian Painting from Glasgow Museums, which is on view through May 3—is shaping up to be a great event.

A Toast to Love and Valentines

Nothing says romance quite like a great bottle of wine or a sexy cocktail. Here are some ways to toast your beloved this Valentine’s Day.

Movie-Inspired Sips and Savories

t’s easy to get the star treatment during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). As part of a special Film Feast promotion, all sorts of local watering holes and restaurants are offering movie-themed specials during the Film Festival (January 27 – February 7).

A Toast to Downton Abbey

One of my favorite television shows recently had a wonderful plot twist: Downton Abbey, the wonderful British period drama which returned this month to PBS, now has its own wine label, believe it or not!

Everything You Need to Know about Molecular Mixology

Want to know about Molecular Mixology? Here’s the real lowdown from Parks & Recreation.

Stocking Stuffers Make your Christmas morning memorable by celebrating the art of celebrating with these fun, cocktail-themed stocking stuffers.

Top Shelf Gifts It’s that most wonderful time of the year once again—from wine clubs to spirits, to gifts that give back and ideas that are sure to impress—here are some of our favorite holiday gift ideas for just about everyone on your list.

Celebrate Prohibition Repeal Day

Prohibition Repeal Day returns to Santa Barbara this week (Friday, December 5) to celebrate the end of Prohibition in 1933, more than 80 years ago! This year the event coincides with the annual Downtown Holiday Parade on State Street, which sounds like a winning combination to me.

A Tuscan Evening at Armada Wine & Beer

Armada Wine & Beer Merchant is hosting a special evening in Tuscany next weekend and it sounds like it will be amazing. Their resident sommelier Carlos Mascherin has selected a special flight of four Sangiovese wines, and they’ll be accompanied by delicious Italian appetizers from Via Maestra 42. Sangiovese wines are typically savory reds, which pair well with herbs, tomatoes, cured meats and cheeses. It should be a yummy evening.

Haunted Halloween Cocktails It’s a spooky time of the year, and with Halloween on a Friday this time around, it’s a perfect time to imbibe in something haunted—and fun—to honor this holiday. Figueroa Mountain’s Real Ale Invitational Cask beers take the spotlight next weekend when Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. hosts the Real Ale Invitational lunch and festival on Saturday, October 25 from 1–4 p.m. at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s flagship brewery and taproom, 45 Industrial Way, Buellton.

Celebration of Harvest Local winemakers have been hard at work amongst the vines for the last few weeks, but now it’s time for them to take a break for the annual celebration of the year’s bounty. Celebration of Harvest Weekend is a time to enjoy the fruits of those labors, when vintners pour their wines, relax a little bit, and if you’re lucky, share their harvest tales with the winehounds among us.

Italian Reds I’ve got a soft spot for all things Italian, especially red wines.

Bottomless Bellini Brunch at the Belmond El Encanto It’s tough to improve upon the spectacular ocean and mountain views from the terrace at

Belmond El Encanto, but the amazing Bottomless Bellini Brunch—available Sundays from 11 a.m.–2 p.m.—adds a delicious bubbly kick to what is already an embarrassment of riches. This brunch is a perfect way to treat that special someone to a meal they won’t forget.

Vintage American Cocktails (and Beer!) at American Ale Burgers and beer are a classic pairing for good reason, but even if you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous in your glass,American Ale (14 E. Cota St.) is a great place for drinks.

SMILE SIDEWAYS TO WIN, FRIENDSHIP CENTER WINE DOWN, BIEN NACIDO WINEMAKERS’ DINNER & MORE

The Sideways celebrations continue on this week with a special 10th Anniversary Sign Promotion September 5th – 14th in 100 different locations throughout Santa Barbara County. To celebrate the Oscar-winning film and its impact on the local wine scene, 100 six-foot tall signs featuring Miles and Jack are being placed at locations used in the film and other high-traffic areas around Santa Barbara County.

My Happy-Dance-Worthy List We’ve got a long, Labor Day weekend ahead of us, which is certainly more than enough to make me smile. Here are a few more happy dance-worthy things on my list right now:

Get out those Hawaiian shirts and leis, Finch & Fork is hosting a special “Farewell to Tiki Tuesday Luau” on Tuesday, August 26, beginning at 5 p.m.  The festivities, which run till dark, will include live entertainment. Chef James Siao will be roasting a whole pig and serving an island inspired buffet, and of course, there will be tiki cocktails galore.

Ginger-Infused Libations Ginger is said to have all kinds of healing benefits—including everything from curing gas to firing up the digestive juices and stoking the aphrodisiac  fires in the bedroom. Personally, I like the way it tastes, especially in a cocktail.

It’s been 10 years since Miles and Jack’s wine-soaked romp  through the vineyards of Santa Barbara wine country, and the impact of these memorable Sideways characters—created by by author Rex Pickett and brought to life by director Alexander Payne and a top-notch cast and crew—is still being celebrated throughout the region. This Academy Award-winning movie introduced the world to the incredible Pinot Noirs of Santa Barbara, and has forever changed the wine world’s perception of the bounty that Santa Barbara County has to offer.

Viva la Sangria!

Of course, nothing will ever usurp the Margarita as my Fiesta drink of choice. … But, as I’ve learned—the hard way—there is such a thing as too many Margaritas. That’s where Sangria comes in. This Spanish/Portuguese libation takes many forms.

Lucky Dogg Winery Opens What’s in a name? For Brent Melville‘s new Lucky Dogg Winery in Solvang, it’s a little bit of kismet and a whole lot of luck.

Happy Anniversary to Uptown Lounge Believe it or not, the Uptown Lounge (3126 State St.) is celebrating two years in business tonight. First opened during Fiesta 2012, this fun, friendly place has quickly become a clean, comfortable neighborhood hangout spot for locals and visitors who want to get away from the rambunctious crowds of downtown, with an all-ages clientele that is a refreshing change from many local hot spots.

Beer Pairing Dinner at Rodney’s Grill + Seven More Fun Events 

Santa Barbara Beer Week is winding down this weekend, but the suds continue to pour around town, including at Rodney’s Grill (at The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., 800/879-2929), where executive chef Kirk DeLong believes nothing tastes quite like an ice-cold hand crafted beer to quench summertime thirst.

Barbecue Delights Time to fire up the coals (or gas up the grills). Barbecue season is here, along with a wealth of winning wine options to pair with your favorite foods.

Sublime Summer Sips Sublime Summer Sips are on the menu with a variety of opportunities to wine down on those long summer days.

Miró’s—and Nanette’s—Ticket to Paradise 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.

Intermezzo’s New Lineup of Handcrafted Cocktails Those clever mixologists at Intermezzo are at it again with a new lineup of handcrafted cocktails.

Cool New Cocktails at Finch & Fork Finch & Fork Restaurant at the Canary Hotel is right in the neighborhood (31 W. Carrillo St.) and one of my favorite places for happy hour, wine tastings on the roof and even to meet people for interviews (the bar couches are particularly cushiony and comfortable). Now they  have a fun new cocktail menu with a bit of the new age, a bit of the golden age and a bit of my personal favorite, the barrel age.

Burbank Ranch … in Paso Robles! Yes, you read that headline correctly, and no, my GPS has not gone crazy. The new Burbank Ranch Winery & Bistro is actually north of Santa Barbara in downtown Paso Robles.

The Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail “Summer Celebration” It sure feels like summer with the weather we’ve had this week! The Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail will  keep the warm summer vibe going with three toast-worthy events over one wine-filled weekend, May 30 – June 1.

Downtown Art & Wine Tour Great art & wonderful wine make excellent bedfellows, especially when you add in fabulous food (which they do) at the 2014 Downtown Art & Wine Tour, which takes place on Thursday, May 22 from 5:30-9:30 p.m.

Lafond Winery tasting room opens Pioneering Santa Barbara winemaker Pierre Lafond opened a second tasting room in the buzzy Funk Zone neighborhood this week. Lafond Winery, at 111 Yananoli St., now shares the block—as well as a wine production and bottling facility—with Santa Barbara Winery, his first label, founded in 1962.

Friday Fun Here’s a little cocktail-themed humor for your Friday!

Holman Ranch Vineyards and Wine Caves Looking for a fun getaway this springtime season? Why not check out the historic Holman Ranch, a historic ranch (and now a winery with 21 acres of vineyards) tucked in the rolling hills of Carmel Valley.

Master Whiskey With Johnnie Mundell The Bacara Resort’s Meet the Masters dining series continues on Thursday, April 17, with an evening with whiskey master Johnnie Mundell.

Wandering Dog Wine Bar’s “Friday Night Wines” Looking for something fun and unique to do on a Friday night? Why not “wine down” your week at one of Solvang’s Wandering Dog Wine Bar‘s monthly events.

Green Drinks Earth Day Benefit I love it when great causes join with fun events, and Tuesday’s 4th Annual Green Drinks benefit for the Community Environmental Council’s (CEC’s) Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival brings together two terrific things: Green Drinks and Santa Barbara Earth Day!

Taste the Future of Wine at Les Marchands After last year’s super successful first “Funk Zone version” of the Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding numero due, especially since an exclusive Friday evening event was added to the mix, taking place on April 18.

Armada Wine & Beer Merchant ucked back in the beautiful courtyard space at 1129-A State St. is a great new place that is quickly becoming one of my favorite new hangouts.Armada Wine & Beer Merchant is the brainchild of Jaime Heer and Tucker Huget, co-owners, the two darling young businesswomen have created a comfortable yet sophisticated place to sip wine and beer from around the world.

The Garagiste Festival The garagiste movement is responsible for making some of the best wine in the world, much of which will be showcased later this month when 56 of Santa Ynez Valley’s and Santa Barbara County’s high-quality, limited-production commercial garagiste winemakers gather at the beautiful, Mission-style Veterans Memorial Hall, 1745 Mission Dr., Solvang.

Pinot Noir Comes to Paradise Shell Beach’s loss is Santa Barbara gain. After 13 years of hosting the annual World of Pinot Noir, the two-day event moves to Santa Barbara this weekend (February 28-March 1), specifically to the luxurious, oceanfront Bacara Resort and Spa.

Get Schooled in Sake The Bacara Resort’s new Meet the Masters dining series features an evening with Yuji Matsumoto, the United States’ first certified Master Sake Sommelier.  

Eros From Sunstone Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Sunstone  Vineyards & Winery is uncorking its newest EROS 2011 Release, a popular blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

New Handcrafted Cocktails at Intermezzo The creative crew at Intermezzo is shaking things up again this month, with a slew of new specialty cocktails to enjoy on a cold rainy day or warm winter afternoon. You never know what to expect weather-wise in February in Santa Barbara, but you can certainly expect these tasty, handcrafted cocktails to hit the spot!

Le Cafe Stella Tucked uptown near the corner of upper State Street and Las Positas across from the scenic Santa Ynez mountains and Municipal Golf Course, Le Café Stella is a charming neighborhood favorite, pairing the ambience of a European café with an American twist.

Wine and Film Pair Perfectly With Santa Barbara Film Feast Santa Barbara’s Film Feast, coinciding with the 29th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) January 30th – February 9th, has something for everyone, including a slew of great wine specials and award-worthy prix fixe tasting flights.

The Whole Universe in a Glass of Wine Whether or not you’re familiar with Richard P. Feynman‘s famous quote, we think you’ll enjoy this lovely short video from the PBS series “It’s Okay to Be Smart,” which illustrates his lecture on the relationship of wine to the universe.

Tupelo Junction Cafe You’ll find Southern comfort food in spades at Tupelo Junction Cafe, but this reliable old favorite downtown restaurant also has a creative and well-priced cocktail menu (1218 State St., 805/899-3100).

Intoxerated One of my favorite gifts this holiday season was a paperback book called Intoxerated: The Definitive Drinker’s Dictionary by Paul Dickson. Billed as “the book that set the Guinness World Record for most synonyms of a single word in English—’drunk,’” this slim volume is a fun read that is sure to spawn a new generation of party games for the tipsy.

Notable News Winemaker Doug Margerum‘s first release from his new brand, BARDEN came out earlier this month. Margerum says, “The BARDEN collaboration is the pairing of my dream to make the ultimate expression of Santa Barbara County grapes andwinemaker Jason Barrette’s acute craftsmanship and skill.

Cocktails and Cookies for Santa Maybe your Santa Claus drinks milk with his cookies … but after a long night’s journey up and down chimneys delivering gifts, mine prefers a good stiff adult beverage. Here are just a few of Santa’s favorite Christmas Eve cocktails (click on drink names for links to the full recipes). Holiday Gift Guide From cocktail kits to barware, here are some of our favorite gift ideas for anyone who loves cocktails.

Ocean Vodka Makes a Splash With Great Taste, Organic Practices A little bit of the ocean came with my family to the desert last week, when I brought a bottle of Ocean Vodka on vacation to Palm Springs. This craft distillery—which recently announced its expansion into rums, whiskies, bourbons and organic liqueurs and is sold locally at BevMoLazy Acres and Vons, among others—bills itself as “the only spirit in the world made with the sun, ocean and organic Earth.”

Enjoy Cocktails With Culture at 1st Thursday: After Hours It used to be that the fun was just getting started when 1st Thursday ended…but not anymore! Lobero TheatreThe Granada and The New Victoria Theatre have teamed up for a terrific new production: Historic Theatre District’s 1st Thursday: After Hours from 7:30–9:30 p.m., where you can enjoy your cocktails with culture every 1st Thursday.

Thanksgiving With Friends When I count my blessings this Thanksgiving season—gobble by gobble, of course—friends and family fall at the very top of the list.

Cultivate’s Generous Pour The wine industry is a notably generous one—you’ll get a warm and fuzzy buzz just thinking about how much donated wine is poured in the name of loosening checkbooks at local charity events every year! Now that grape-infused generosity has a new twist with the Cultivate brand.

Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie Liquor With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’m sure some super-organized hosts already have their menus color coded and the ink is dry on their calligraphy place cards. To those people I say, “thanks for making the rest of us look bad” … and to the rest of us I say: “forget struggling over the crust:  Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie Liqueur is the best apple pie you’ve ever had in your life!”

The Pickle Room “Santa Barbara needs a lounge where people can hang out and be off State Street and kick their feet up and be comfortable,” says Clay Lovejoy, who recently opened the Pickle Room, 126 E. Canon Perdido St. (805/965-3445), with the aim of providing that very thing. The spot is a reincarnation of sorts of Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, a favorite local watering hole owned and operated by the Chung family in that spot from 1947 until 2006.

Literary Libations From Daisy Buchanan‘s Mint Julep and Jay Gatsby‘s Gin Rickey in The Great Gatsby to Zaphod Beeblebrox‘s Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, our fictional friends make pretty good bartenders.

Halloween Cocktail Couture Halloween is a great time to get your creative juices flowing. Sure there are zillions of spooky cocktail recipes out there, but what about cocktail-themed Halloween costumes? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Notes on Nebbiolo I don’t know about the rest of you, but the cooler, sweater weather we’ve been having this week puts me in the mood for red wine. Nebbiolo grapes, which I’ve been told get their name from the Italian word nebbia, meaning fog, are harvested about this time of year, primarily in the Piedmont region, to produce lovely light-colored Italian red wines.

Drink Pink October is the perfect time to think pink and drink pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

epicure.sb’s Excellent Libations Traditionally, epicure.sb devotes the entire month of October to celebrating the best of Santa Barbara’s cuisine with a bountiful menu of foodie fun.  This year’s epicurean excitement truly has something for everyone; including this lovely line-up of libation-related events and activities.

The Bourbon Room I’ve never been a big fan of cherries; even covered in chocolate, they’re just not my thing. But cherries soaked in bourbon are another story entirely. Cherries soaked in bourbon—at least the way The Bourbon Room does them—are truly a nectar for the gods.

Green Drinks Meet Drink Talk Think” is certainly an idea worth toasting. It’s also the slogan for Green Drinks, a fun monthly networking group that combines merriment and making the world a greener (better) place.

Tailgate Time Though the air in Santa Barbara feels more like Indian Summer than fall,  football season is upon us, which means it’s tailgate time. Toast the kickoff with these Super (punch) Bowl worthy libations.

Booze-Infused Popsicles With Labor Day weekend on the horizon, this seems like an ideal time to bring on the adult beverage version of one of my favorite summertime treats: the popsicle. Not only are booze-infused popsicles delicious, they are just about the easiest cocktail—or simplest dessert—you can make.  A little  juice, a little alcohol (or a lot) and a paper cup … and you’re all set.

Loving Limoncellotinis As we like to say around here, when life give 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.

Sama Sama Kitchen My Indonesian is a little rusty, but I believe “sama sama” means “together or welcome,” or  (when someone says thank you), “my pleasure.” Whatever it means, the addition of Sama Sama Kitchen to our downtown neighborhood (1208 State St., 805/965-4566)  is indeed our pleasure, especially now that the bar is open for business. Our Tuesday night sips included the delicious and refreshing Sama Sama cocktail made from bourbon, jasmine sweet tea and lemon, as well as their kicky version of now ubiquitous Moscow Mule, called a Mule Kick and made with Thai Chili, ginger-infused vodka, lime and ginger beer.

Viva la Fiesta! Margaritas are part of the DNA of Santa Barbara and—along with buying Cascarones and seeing old friends—one of my favorite ways to celebrate Old Spanish Days.

Bacon & Barrels Leslie and her bacon-phile colleagues were living high on the hog last weekend at the first annual Bacon & Barrels Festival at Saarloos + Sons‘ wine field in Los Olivos.

BarNotes Creative Cocktail App

Cocktail conversations (i.e. conversations about cocktails and conversations over cocktails) are all the rage around here, so we were excited to find BarNotes, a fun and informative tool available for free in the app store.

Wine Tasting Comes to Goleta

The Goodland of Goleta got even better recently with the addition of a new wine tasting room at Bacara Resort & Spa. Dubbed The Foley Food and Wine Society Experience (Yes, it’s a mouthful, but they’ve also got a LOT of great wines to back it up!), my husband and I were treated to the full Foley experience this week, and I have to say, it was a wonderful way to spend a summer evening.

Summer Sips, Santa Barbara Style

It’s finally official: summer is here! While just about any cocktail is suitable for summer, when the sun’s beating down, there’s sand in your toes or you’re barbecuing, some sips are just a bit more summery than others. Here are a few of Leslie’s favorites.

Viva la Cocktails at Cadiz!

Santa Barbara’s Spanish heritage is always on display at the beautiful Cadiz restaurant (509 State St.), but this month, there’s an extra injection of that Fiesta spirit with a special cocktail menu celebratingPatricia Houghton Clarke‘s Old Spanish Days photographs which are featured in the summer issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.

Thirsty Birds Flock to the Canary for Wine Tasting

One of the most exquisite—and exclusive—360-degree views of Santa Barbara is from the rooftop at the Canary, and it’s also a great place to taste local wines this summer. Quite frankly, the scenery alone is enough to make me leap at any invitation to visit the roof, add in some terrific wines and nibbles and there’s no reason not to start your work week with a smile. You can sip and swirl at the Rooftop Perch at the Canary Hotel every Monday night from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. through mid-October.

Rosés are in Bloom

Santa Barbara SEASONS editor Leslie Dinaberg took some time to stop and smell the rosés this week when Whole Foods Market wine specialist/buyer Mark Pfeiffer took her on walk through his wine garden of delights.

Popping the Cork for Mother’s Day

One of my favorite things about Mother’s Day is that it’s a terrific excuse reason to have Champagne for breakfast. Of course, you can do this anytime you want—and pretty, pretty please invite me over!—but on Mother’s Day, unless you’re visibly pregnant, no one looks at you strangely when you order a bottle of Champagne with your Eggs Benedict (which is a fabulous pairing, by the way). But here’s an even better reason to toast mom with some bubbly this weekend: new research has just come out that three glasses of Champagne a week can help to improve your memory!

Kentucky Derby Day Drinks

It’s Kentucky Derby time this weekend, and although all I know about the leaderboard is thatOrb is favored to win, I know enough about Kentucky Derby Day traditions to know whichever horse your money’s on, y’all should be cheering ‘em on with a Mint Julep.

Cheers to The Pan

I’m a big believer that variety is the spice of life. If I could tipple “cocktail flights” for every happy hour and nibble appetizers for every meal, I would be doing a happy dance for the rest of my life. I still haven’t found a place that has “cocktail flights” on the menu (sharing sips with friends is the next best thing), but I have found a great small bites place just a hop, skip and jump from the office: The Pan.

Cheers to Prosecco

I had my first taste of Prosecco just a few years ago, when a friend brought a bottle of Mionetto IL Prosecco to accompany our sushi at one of the summer concerts at El Capitan Canyon.  It was delicious, bubbly and tasted good with potato chips too.

Wine and Cheese Please!

I was thrilled to discover that today is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. What better way to fight the post-vacation blues than to celebrate this traditional American treat and pair it with some of our favorite local wines?

Potions With Pisco Popping Up

I wasn’t too familiar with Pisco last fall, when someone gave me a bottle of KAPPA Pisco, a new Chilean Pisco from the House of Marnier-Lapostolle, producers of Grand Marnier. But since then, this exotic beverage has been showing up more and more.  Especially in Montecito, where it’s behind the bar at Cava Restaurant and Bar and the Biltmore’s Ty Lounge and on the shelves at The Bottle Shop, among others.

Cheers to Spring at the Ty Lounge

A great spot for cocktails just got even better. The Ty Lounge (at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara) has always been a beautiful place to drink in the priceless view of the Pacific, but now mixology pro and manager Chris Nordella has introduced a lively selection of spring cocktails.

A Bit of the Blarney About Dargan’s

Irish eyes are always smiling at Dargan’s, one of my favorite downtown pubs (18 E. Ortega St., 805/568-0702). Of course the place will be rocking this weekend in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s a great place to tipple any time of the year.

A Bouquet of Orchid Cocktails

With the  68th Santa Barbara International Orchid Show coming up this weekend, a bouquet of orchid cocktails is certainly in order to celebrate this event. Joe’s Cafe I had my first legal drink at Joe’s. It was something called a Brain Tumor, and while I can still appreciate the architecture of this layered, brain-like concoction, it’s definitely a cocktail that only a 21-year-old could love. Made of Bailey’s Irish CreamPeach Schnapps and Grenadine, it’s disgusting looking, as I would imagine a brain tumor would be.

Chuck’s Famous Mai Tai

A lot of places slap the label “famous” onto a cocktail, but Chuck’s Famous Mai Tai is one “famous” libation that’s ready for a “legendary” label. It’s not quite as good as a trip to Maui, but it’s pretty darn close.

Red Carpet Cocktails

For those of us who won’t be at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre this weekend, the competition for Oscar-inspired libations is every bit as fierce as the race for Best Picture. Here are some red carpet cocktails to make your home viewing party a hit!

How to Make a Sidecar with Rachel Maddow and Dita Von Teese

I love pretending I’m Rosalind Russell and ordering old-fashioned cocktails. Must be the journalist’s fascination with His Girl Friday. Phrases like, “How ’bout a Sidecar, doll face?” and “Gimme an Old Fashioned, the old-fashioned way,” just trill off the tongue, don’t they? Anyway, when I stumbled across this video of one of my favorite journalists—MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow—demonstrating how to make a Sidecar, I just had to share it.

Cajun Martini at The Palace Grill

It’s always Mardi Gras at the Palace Grill (8 E. Cota St., 805/963-5000), the closest you can get to New Orleans while staying in Santa Barbara.

The Antagonist at The Marquee

I’ve been really into sweet, hot and spicy cocktails recently and had a fabulously tasty one the other night at The Marquee. The Antagonist is made of chili-infused Absolut Vodka, white peach puree, mixed berry puree and pineapple juice.

Toasting the Film Festival

Even movie stars shine a little brighter when you give them a perfect cocktail. Since the stars will out in full force this week, here’s where I would take some of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival VIPs out for drinks.

Paradise Cafe Margaritas

My childhood smelled like Coppertone, my teenage years like Love’s Baby Soft, and my 20’s smelled like the Margaritas at the Paradise Cafe .

National Hot Toddy Day

It’s National Hot Toddy Day. A “hot toddy” is a warmth-inducing yummy drink made with honey, lemon, hot water, and the spirit of your choice (usually whiskey, brandy, or rum).

The Heat of Passion at Alcazar

The sultry Heat of Passion is sweet, hot and spicy and certainly my favorite cocktail at the moment.

Simmering Sangria

Sangria is one of my favorite warm weather libations, but until our recent uber cold front (quite unusual for Santa Barbara) I had never thought about serving it warm.