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Brandon and Misty Ristaino

Paul Wellman

Brandon and Misty Ristaino


Brandon and Misty Ristaino: The Promised Ones

Owners of The Good Lion and Test Pilot


The Good Lion’s opening in 2014 was a big test for Santa Barbara’s scene: Would a bar focused only on craft cocktails full of obscure ingredients and served by mustachioed hipsters succeed? The instant answer was, “Hell yeah!” so much so that the Ristainos just opened their second establishment, Test Pilot, down in the Funk Zone.

“I’m big on spatial honesty, so we want to go with what feels right in each space,” said Brandon Ristaino. The State Street, next-to-the-Granada vibe led to a slightly Old World theme for The Good Lion, whereas the beachy, shack-like vibe of the former Reds led to the Test Pilot’s tiki bar-ness.

Here’s a favorite drink from each:

Brass Monkey @ The Good Lion

Click to enlarge photo

Formerly an end-of-summer drink, this is now a regular cocktail, though the cantaloupe cordial is replaced with an orange cordial when the melon is out of season.

2 oz. amaro meletti

.5 oz. lime juice

.5 oz. grapefruit juice

.5 oz. orgeat (floral almond cordial)

.25 oz. cantaloupe cordial

1 dash Angostura bitters

1.5 oz. Telegraph IPA (or other balanced/session-able IPA)

Directions: Hard shake in your shaking tins all ingredients but the IPA with just one cube of ice. Gently add the beer to the tins. Pour all contents into your favorite tiki glassware (should be appx. 12 oz.) over crushed ice. Top with no more than an additional .5 oz. IPA. Garnish with mint sprig, grapefruit twist, and real maraschino cherry (we like Amarena or Luxardo).

Oaxacan Dead @ Test Pilot

“This is a Zombie variation,” said Brandon, “hence the pun.”

.75 oz. Appleton reserve Jamaican rum

.75 oz. reposado tequila (we like El Tesoro and Tequila Ocho here)

.16 oz. or teaspoon mescal (we like Nuestra Soledad here)

.5 oz. falernum (a clove/ginger/lime cordial)

.16 oz. or teaspoon grenadine

.25 oz. grapefruit juice

.25 oz. cinnamon cordial (we are huge nerds and sous vide our own!)

1 dash Angostura bitters

Directions: Hard shake in your shaking tins all ingredients with just one cube of ice. Pour all contents into your favorite tiki glassware (should be appx. 16 oz.) over crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprig, grapefruit twist, and real maraschino cherry (we like Amarena or Luxardo).

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