A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg
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.
Aparna Sherman, an adorable newlywed who owns the restaurant with her husband Brad, says the inspiration comes from the heart, and it shows. “Brad and I love great food from around the world. So when we conjured up Nectar, we thought we should serve foods that have ethnic notes with a fresh California flair that can start and sustain conversations between diners. You can enjoy a great chicken kebab, Aji pepper and Mandarin Orange sauce with Wild Salmon and Roasted Spiced Cauliflower with Crispy Papadums.”
They also have a terrific bar, actually two terrific bars, both upstairs and downstairs, and both of which happen to be stunning. The space is so pretty it’s worth checking out for the decor alone. But that’s not all, one of the most exciting things for me is that they offer two cocktail flights, including a tasty assortment of Mango, Blood Orange and Guava Margaritas, as well as another assortment that includes Kamasutra, Silk Road and Geisha Martinis.
At this week’s press party I tasted them all, as well as a Coconut Ginger Mojito, a Pear Grey Goose Martini and my personal favorite, a French Martini made with Grey Goose Vodka, Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur and Pineapple Juice. Everything was delicious and distinct (And I promise I only took sips of each, after all, I was working!).
Other intriguing cocktails on the Martini menu include Cucumber, Lychee, Key Lime, Side Car, and an Espresso Stoli Vanilla Martini, as well as the three in the cocktail flight. For Tequila lovers, there’s also an Alquimia Tequila & Chocolate Flight, which features Alquimia Silver, Alquimia Reposado and Alquimia Anejo paired with House-Made Fire Roasted Poblano Truffle, Oaxacan Spice Milk Truffle and Cappuccino Chocolate Truffle. I can’t wait to try that one!
In addition to a slew of fun Margarita flavors, Nectar also has specialty cocktails that include Passion Del Diablo (with House Infused Chili Vodka, Mango Puree, Agave Nectar & Fresh Lime), Oaxacan Old-Fashioned, Pepino Diablo (with Tanteo Jalapeno Tequila, Muddled Cucumber, Agave Nectar & Fresh Lime), Amaro Fix (with Amaro Nonino, Cane Syrup and Fresh Lemon garnished with Seasonal Muddled Fruit), as well as Lucid Absinthe, traditionally prepared with a sugar cube and water spout.
There’s also a full menu of spirits, a nice assortment of beer and a lovely, local-centric wine list. Plus, you want to bring your own, Aparna mentioned that they are waiving corkage fee on wines on Wednesdays. Go check it out, and let us know what you think.
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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.”