The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2014

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88 WHAT'S NEW A s you enter the door at SY Kitchen in the quaint township of Santa Ynez in Santa Barbara County's wine country, your eyes are drawn to the bar, the back bar and the side bar. A vast selection of spirits and the "apothecary" jump out at you. This is the type of bar where a call for "Scotch rocks" might get you a stare. SY Kitchen just celebrated its first anniversary in April and the bar wants to show off its uniqueness. Kathie and Mike Gordon, proprietors of Toscana in the tony Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood, dreamt of opening a smaller version in their home backyard. As Toscana grew from its original concept 25 years ago to include Bar Toscana, SY Kitchen has followed suit with a full bar featuring the creative libations of Mixologist Alberto Battaglini. Battaglini originally joined his boyhood friend Executive Chef Luca Crestanelli at Bar Toscana, then made the move to Santa Ynez Valley. The two followed similar paths from their home of Verona, Italy. Alberto's culinary training followed a path influenced by his love affair with spirits, including mentoring from Ian Slater in London, tours of duty in Spain and Mexico and meeting up with Chef Luca in Los Angeles. He was well prepared for his role as manager of the SY Kitchen bar. I asked him, "What is essential for the home bar?" He replied, "The home bar for a serious mixologist should begin with essential tools like a bar spoon, mixing glasses, a shaker strainer, a julep strainer, double strainer, a muddler and glasses. Ice is essential for all drinks." Alberto is fastidious about having ice cubes as clear as possible, even if it means using a saw to carve cubes out of blocks of ice made from distilled water. "Ice and glasses should be best friends, keep them cold and happy, glasses in the fridge, ice in the freezer." Battaglini's bar is well stocked with his favorite base spirits: tequilas and bour- bons. Of course he has the full range of gins, Scotches, rums, brandies, liqueurs and vodkas. "Vodka should just be a neutral base," he says. "Rye works better with grown-up drinks like a Sazerac, Old Fashioned or Manhattan." The freezer stocks a favorite, Branca Menta; it's worth a taste even for those who are intimidated by big brother, Fernet Branca. Alberto says, "The 'soul of mixology' is the old recipes that we twist with modern ingredients and tools, in order to play with tastes to give every customer an extraordinary experience." Boyhood friends: SY Kitchen's Chef Luca Crestanelli and Mixologist Alberto Battaglini. Alberto Battaglini's apothecary contains a "wet wall" of bitters, mixes and syrups and a "dry wall," which here takes on a new meaning. Alberto creates the most exciting and unusual flavoring ingredients, such as dried figs, dried mangos, dried orange with chipotle for spice, grapefruit, black salt and star anise. This is only a smattering of the many flavors and aromas that explode from the jars that line the shelf at the bar. An Apothecary for the Beverage Maven IN SANTA YNEZ WINE COUNTRY, SY KITCHEN GIVES ITS STAR MIXOLOGIST FREE REIN by David Michael Cane / photos by Jeremy Ball 2014 NINTH ANNUAL MAY 31 & JUNE 1 Tickets $85 at the door | Early-bird and VIP tickets available online now For tickets, sponsorships, and exhibitor information visit Join us for the 9th Annual LAWineFest Explore the world of wine in a fun, relaxed setting 500+ WINES, SPIRITS & BEERS Sat., May 31 2pm - 6pm • Sun., June 1 12pm - 5pm at the Historic Raleigh Studios 5300 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood SeminarS and PairingS • LifeStyLe exhibitorS beer garden • gourmet food truckS ViP garden • LiVe muSic • much more! Sponsors & Partners Benefitting: Cooking demos by Michelin-starred Chef Tony Esnault from Church & State, and others! 2014 Full Page Tasting-panel.indd 1 3/18/14 1:04 PM TP0514_072-101.indd 88 4/24/14 11:01 PM

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