The Tasting Panel magazine

January/February 2015

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january/february 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  79 Adjacent to downtown's historic Granada Theater, The Good Lion's namesake is a quirky short story by Ernest Hemingway about a winged lion whose gastronomic interests lie more in pasta and Americanos than wildebeests and gazelles. Nods to Hemingway extend to the bar's décor—which features a collection of bruised suitcases and a bullfighting motif—as well as the bold and uncluttered menu. "We have a beautiful library of aged spirits behind the stick, but we're focused on clear spirits," says Ristaino. "Santa Barbara, to us, is lively and fresh, which translates to a cocktail program with a lot of produce, a lot of citrus, shaken drinks, a ton of gin everywhere, vodkas, blanco tequilas, cachaças and platinum rums." Everything about The Good Lion points back to the Ristainos's sincerity and attention to detail, from the hand-drawn logo and custom- made service aprons to the glass of house punch offered when guests arrive. "I keep it as simple as possible," Ristaino says. "Like Tuscan cooking, your drink is only as good as your worst ingredient. If you use tremendous ingredients, you'll have a tremendous drink." The Pear Mule is made with vodka, pear, ginger beer, citrus and mint. The Rosemary Clooney features vodka, rose- mary, citrus, honey and absinthe. A Mezcal-Accented Negroni "I believe bar managers and owners have been needing a product like El Silencio Espadin at their disposal for quite some time," says Ristaino, who calls it "a high-quality, incredibly mixable and cost- effective 'cocktail' mezcal." Here he shares the recipe for his Negroni No. 171 using El Silencio Espadin, a specialty at his Santa Barbara bar, The Good Lion. Negroni No. 171 ◗ 1 oz. El Silencio Espadin Mezcal ◗ 1 oz. cacao nib–infused Campari* ◗ ¾ oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth ◗ Directions: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir over ice. Strain into a double Old Fashioned glass over ice and garnish with a grapefruit twist. *Cacao nib–infused Campari: Add 4 oz. raw cacao nibs to 750 ml. Campari in an airtight vessel. Let sit for 72 hours. Strain out the nibs, and serve away!

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