It was an evening of good libations when Visit Santa Barbara hosted its second annual sold-out official drink of our Eden by the Beach contest at the historic El Paseo restaurant.
Out of 25 entrants, five establishments were chosen to compete in the finals, with the winner being the Four Seasons with its Biltmore Fuerte, a heady concoction of Cutler’s artisan bourbon, organic lemon juice, strawberry purée, Thomas wildfire smoke-infused honey, honeycomb, and lavender flowers, made by the Ty Lounge’s South African mixologist Samantha Graham.
Other restaurants in the mix included the Finch and Fork at the Canary, the Funk Zone’s Loquita, and the Santa Barbara Brewing Company.
The People’s Choice award went to Santo Mezcalfor its Riviera Hermosa, a mix of bourbon, sage, thyme, infused blood orange, lemon juice, aromatic bitters, activated charcoal with sugar and cayenne pepper, a float of pinot noir, and a garnish of dried blood oranges and thyme.
Wine writer and Travelzoo editor Gabe Saglie emceed the contest, which gave the participants three minutes to set up and seven minutes to perfect their cocktails, before being judged by wine author and columnist Michael Cervin, Geneva Ives, author and publisher, Matt Kettmann, senior editor at the Independent, Alvaro Rojas, owner of the Alcazar Tapas Bar, last year’s winner, and local event planner Gina Andrews.
The Biltmore, which recently re-opened after the devastating mudslides, has the exclusive rights to sell the 2018 Official Drink of Santa Barbara at Beanie Baby billionaire Ty Warner‘s tony hostelry throughout the year.