A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg
To label this sold-out event decadent would be an understatement. The festivities included creative bacon (and pork) dishes from top Central Coast chefs, bacon-based and bacon-inspired cocktails, wines and beers concocted by mixologists, brewers and wineries, live music and even a pig petting zoo.
Let me just say, they had me at “bacon” (which pop poet Katy Perry so brilliantly called “the meat candy of the world”) but everything at Bacon & Barrels was pretty fabulous. Our very first bite was an amazing crunchy melted cheese and pork sandwich from Ranch & Reata Roadhouse in Santa Ynez. It was exceptional, and that was before my first tipple.
As to the barrel side of things—wine, spirits, beer—there was a lot of good stuff to choose from, including wine from Tercero, Liquid Farm, Casa Dumetz, Tessa Marie, Sunstone, Press Gang Cellars, Buttonwood, Point Concepcion, Alta Maria Vineyards, Refugio Ranch, Consilience, Tre Anelli, Riverbench (which just opened up a new tasting room in the Funk Zone at 137 Anacapa St.), Cold Heaven and of course, our hosts, Saarloos + Sons.
So much bacon goodness to choose from, as Jim Gaffigan says, “Do you want to know how good bacon is? In order to improve other food, they wrap it in bacon.” Indeed! The Ballard Inn & Restaurant, The Willows, Fresco, Georgia’s Smokehouse and Full of Life Flatbread were just a taste of the yummy bites that were on hand.
But given the heat on Saturday, beer paired especially with all of that porky goodness. The Jefe Del Porko award went to Sides Hardware and Shoes—A Brothers Restaurant, for their bacon slider and peach and bacon panzanella, which was mouth-watering indeed, especially with a pale ale from Figueroa Mountain. The Bruery, Stone Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada, Firestone Walker, Ninkasi Brewing, Central Coast Brewing, The Brewery at Abigaile, Almanac Beer Company, Mendocino Brewing Company and New Belgian Brewing Co. (with a fun “Lips of Faith” series of collaborative beers) were all on hand to wet our whistles.
Try as I did to limit my libations to beer that day, I was unable to resist Root 246‘s amazing bacon-infused Manhattan, garnished with a drunken cherry and served in an ice cube shot glass. Try that with the Stuffed Salted Bacon Maple Cobbler Cupcake from Enjoy Cupcakes (coming soon to the Santa Barbara Public Market) and I guarantee you’ll be in hog heaven. My calendar is already marked for the next festival, July 18–20, 2014.
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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.”