How to Not Screw Up the Drink
Humans, in my opinion have royally screwed up three things: dogs, toothpaste and martinis. Yes, I guess we did a number on the environment, too, but in terms of things people like to buy and have and use, it comes down to these three. We took wolves and selectively bred them into poodles and bulldogs and Chihuahuas and all manner of subspecies that barely even look like they could be related. Toothpaste, fairly straightforward back in the days of my childhood, has spawned so many varieties — with bleach, with numbing agents, with baking soda, with herbs, with strawberry flavoring, with micro-abrasive crystals, without fluoride, and with whitening power but without bleach, just to name a few — that purchasing the proper type of dental hygiene cream becomes a mind-bender.
Then there’s martinis. Once a symbol of James Bond-level suavity, the martini has been bastardized into all so many fruity concoctions and colors that the allue has been fully drained from the drink. Fear not — while many Santa Barbara locations still know how to sling a decent martini, Bricks Café (509 State St.) serves the fancy-pants varieties at the entirely reasonable price of $5 each. Best of all: they’re not merely fruit juice-sweetened takes on the old-fashioned model.
Take the Ortega, for example. This cocktail turns the typical martini formula on its head in a good way by substituting Absolut Peppar for regular vodka. For the uninitiated, Absolut Peppar. Altogether shunned by mainstream alcoholic society in Santa Barbara, this unique vodka balances the alcohol with the taste of japapeno peppers, bell peppers and paprika. Mixed with the sliced cucumber garnish, the Ortega makes for a refreshing drink — which in turn makes Bricks a good rest stop for those transitioning into or out from typical State Street party mode. Those who hanker for the a more typical sweet martini may want to check out the De La Vina, to which Bricks drinkslingers add a splash of red wine.
So poodles will prance, your toothpaste might double as a muscle relaxant and this classic drink may never be rescued from the craze of the Mangotini and Tartini. But Bricks, at least, knows to spin the trend in a good direction — and all for a very affordable price.