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SBIFF ‘09: Drinking the Red Carpet

State Street Bartender Shakes Up a Prize-Winning Cocktail


The Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s motto this year is “Discover by Day, Dazzle by Night.” But anyone familiar with the fest part of the festival knows that tagline could be “Discover by Day, Drink Up by Night.” Once again Chopin Vodka is a sponsor, which is fitting as festival head honcho Roger Durling loves the stuff. This year, Chopin went even further, not only sponsoring the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award that goes to Penelope Cruz on January 24, but also conducting a cocktail contest among Santa Barbara bartenders. The winner, fittingly, was The Red Carpet, created by Josh Lewis, a bartender at Tonic (634 State St.).

Dylan Baker, part of the judging panel and Portfolio Manager for Moet Hennessy USA, praised Lewis’s concoction, claiming, “We were impressed with the concept, that he used two products from our portfolio, that the name connected with the festival, and the end result was delicious. It was the clear winner.”

Josh Lewis shows off the winning drink.
Click to enlarge photo

Derren Ohanian of DNA imagery

Josh Lewis shows off the winning drink.

If you lack the Platinum Pass that will get you access to the after-parties, you can try one at home. But be careful-more than that one and it might hit you like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 oz. Chopin Vodka
  • 4 Raspberries
  • 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
  • Muddle above ingredients in shaker, then add 1/2 oz. Elderflower Liqueur. Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into champagne flute. Top with a float of Mo»t Chandon White Star Champagne. Garnish with a floating fresh raspberry.

I didn’t start out with this recipe-the original was miles away,” says Lewis. “I started with blackberries and a bunch of other stuff. This is probably the third version of the final drink.”

Baker of Moet Hennessy also had praise for Beth Weinberg of Elements Restaurant’s Virtuoso’s Tini, saying, “We gave that a Creative Genius Award as it was really great but too involved a drink to serve to a thousand people at one party.”

Speaking of the volume of cocktails consumed at the festival, Lewis was pleased he didn’t have to bartend then. Instead, he’ll be enjoying his prize: two Platinum Passes. And he won’t be late for films, either, wearing his other prize, a Tag Heuer watch.



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