Cocktail Corner: Tasting Notes

Posted on Oct 2 by Leslie Dinaberg

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 spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

M. Special kegs, courtesy photo

M. Special kegs, courtesy photo

Brewing in Goleta

The ever groovier Goleta has a cool new hangout, M. Special Brew Co. Tap Room and Brewery, located at 6860 Cortona Dr.

Their core line-up of beers includes:

    • M. Special American Lager – Based on a classic American craft lager
    • All Time Special – Farmhouse Ale
    • Pablo Special – Pale Ale
    • The Greatland Special – India pale Ale
    • Lazy Eye Special – Double India Pale Ale
    • Dozer Special – American Brown Ale

The tasting room features roll-up doors to create an open-air environment, with views of the brewing area through hand-made steel frame windows. The brewery also has four 50” televisions and a Sonos music system to provide additional entertainment. The bar is constructed from local wood from woodworker and artist John Birchim, who created over 40 feet of live edge bar made from a fallen Monterey Pine from the Santa Barbara coast. The brewery was designed by Patrick Housh of Piorier + Associates Architects and built by Michealsen Construction Company of Santa Barbara.

Not only is this place cool looking, you won’t go hungry. They have a partnership with Woodstocks Pizza, so pizza and salads are always available, and they’ll feature various food trucks on rotation. There was quite a spread the night we went—we’ll definitely be back!

M. Special Bar, courtesy photo

M. Special Bar, courtesy photo

Pouring in Los Olivos

The charming town of Los Olivos—always a great place for walkable wine tasting, shopping and dining—recently got even better, with the addition of the new Bien Nacido/Solomon Hills Estate Tasting Room. Located at 2963 Grand Ave., Unit B , the tasting room is open Thursday through Monday  from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bien Nacido

“Simply put, Bien Nacido Estate is now one of the hottest wineries in California,” writes wine critic Antonio Galloni, founder of Vinous, a well-respected wine publication. In Galloni’s recent report, the Bien Nacido Estate Chardonnay and the Solomon Hills Chardonnay were the two highest rated Chardonnays on California’s Central Coast. For more information, visit

Santa Barbara’s Oldest—and Newest—Wine Cellar

Another new place worth checking out (It’s gorgeous!) is Standing Sun … The Bodega, located in the historic Casa de la Guerra‘s original 1817 Bodega wine cellar. This rhone varietal wine tasting and art gallery is the oldest wine cellar on record in the city of Santa Barbara, and quite possibly the State of California. 

Standing Sun The Bodega is a new tasting room in the historic Casa de la Guerra. Courtesy photo.

Standing Sun The Bodega is a new tasting room in the historic Casa de la Guerra. Courtesy photo.

Standing Sun wines are handcrafted in small lots from some of Santa Ynez Valley’s premiere vineyards. The fruit is sourced as vineyard specific varieties, each with its own characteristics and diversity. Vineyards they work with include: Tierra Alta vineyard on Ballard Canyon, Clover Creek vineyard on Refugio Rd, Colson Canyon vineyard near Tepesquet and Camp four vineyard on Baseline Avenue.

The resulting wines are pure, un-manipulated wines, individually fermented and aged in neutral French oak barrels for 11 months.

Standing Sun The Bodega is a new tasting room in the historic Casa de la Guerra. Courtesy photo.

Standing Sun The Bodega is a new tasting room in the historic Casa de la Guerra. Courtesy photo.

Good Vibes at Good Lion

A couple of weeks ago at the Fermentation Festival I had the pleasure of trying several really delicious handcrafted cocktails from The Good Lion (1212 State St.) and was quite impressed. Everything is fresh and fun and their weekly rotating cocktail menu features the Central Coast’s finest fruits, herbs, spices, and produce, as well as local booze from Cutler’s Artisan Spirits and Ventura Spirits, among others.

World Cuisine With Small Town Prices

Another fun addition to the downtown cocktail scene is Globe, 18 E. Cota St., which features a big $10 and under menu of globally inspired small bites and cocktails. I really liked the Pink Grapefruit Drop (sort of a cross between a Greyhound and a Lemon Drop), and the Flaming Blood Orange Margarita.

Serious Drinking

Fancy cocktails are always fun, but sometimes you just want (need?) a stiff pour, and downtown’s new Nugget Restaurant (21 W. Victoria St.) certainly fits the bill. Between the strong, well-priced drinks, vintage Santa Barbara photos, friendly service and comfort food menu, I thought I was at Harry’s for a minute. I miss Arlington Tavern but this is a welcome addition to the downtown offerings.

Delicious Pairings

Giuseppe Quintarelli, courtesy photo

Giuseppe Quintarelli, courtesy photo

Coming up on Tuesday, October 6, Les Marchands presents a dinner celebrating the exceptional wines of Giuseppe Quintarelli, the revered wine producer from Veneto in northeast Italy. Quintarelli was internationally heralded for his Valpolicellas, reciotos and Amarones.

For this dinner, Les Marchands Executive Chef Weston Richards has created a four course menu of Duck Liver Mousse, radicchio and apple; Wild Mushroom Lasagna with house-made ricotta; Crispy Lamb Cheeks with cannellini beans, roasted figs and Pecorino; and Chef Weston’s selection of Ripe Cheeses that honors these stunning wines – Quintarelli’s 2011 Primofiore IGT, 2006 Rosso Ca’ del Merlo, 2006 Valpolicella Classico Superiore and the 2006 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico.

For further information call 805/284-0380 or visit Space is limited.

Cheers!  Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

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.”



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