For the second year in a row, SBIFF sponsor Chopin Vodka hosted a city-spanning mixology contest, in which bartenders from Santa Barbara and Montecito were challenged to develop the film fest’s official cocktail. “It was really exciting to see how involved some of the bartenders got into making and presenting their cocktail,” said Chopin’s Shelley Turner. “There was a lot of effort and time that when into every cocktail submission. It was really inspiring.” After plenty of careful sipping, a team of judges determined that the runners-up are the Rising Star, a kiwi-pear concoction from Elements’ Beth Weinberg, and the Aristo-Cat, a peach-and-cranberry blend from the Wildcat’s Nicole Unruh-Enos. But carrying the trophy in this year’s showdown is Grant Danely from Tydes at the Coral Casino, whose blood orange and lemonade enhanced Tarantini won over everyone.

Grant Danely at Tydes.
Matt Kettmann

The annual bartending battle is a refreshing show of how Chopin actually engages the Santa Barbara community throughout the year rather than just dumping in money to support a once-a-year event. “They’re committed to investing in Santa Barbara as a partner,” explained fest honcho Roger Durling, who landed the support after writing about his love for Chopin Vodka on his blog a couple years ago. “They’ve been actively finding ways not just to promote their product, but to give local businesses more exposure.” Specifically, Chopin is sponsoring both the American Riviera Award, which goes to Sandra Bullock on February 5, as well as the aptly named Virtuosos Award, which goes to five young, emerging actors on February 7. As part of the celebration, Chopin has created a 200-liter bottle of vodka—the largest ever, they say—that celebrities will be signing while walking up the red carpet. It will later be auctioned for charity.

Though you won’t be able to tap that bottle, you will be able to find the Tarantini, the Aristo-Cat, and the Rising Star at various locations during SBIFF ’10. But if you’re feeling randy and want to taste a Tarantini at home, here’s the recipe:

The Tarantini, by Grant Danely of Tydes

  • 2 oz. Chopin
  • 1 oz. blood orange purée
  • 1 oz. agave lemonade
  • Shake with ice and pour into martini glass. Add float of Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial. Garnish with vertical lemon wedge and attached mint sprig.


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