What better way for the Santa Barbara Public Library to extend outreach for its Santa Barbara Reads choice for 2018, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, than by asking bartenders to pull together suitable odd parts into a wondrous new cocktail life? Four establishments are participating through October 31, and I’ve had the good fortune to sample two of their concoctions.
The Green Beast has been lurking on the secret menu at The Good Lion (1212 State St.; 845-8754; goodlioncocktails.com) for some time, so it was an easy choice for them to resurrect it for Frankenstein. A pleasing, three-ingredient cocktail (hip-and-cool alert!), it’s made of fresh lime juice, house-made cucumber cordial, and St. George absinthe. It’s very green, ungarnished (not even neck bolts), and surprisingly complex for something so straightforward. The lime keeps ringing through, but it’s sort of an absinthe rickey (without the soda water), and the cucumber hints at a gin like Hendrick’s that’s not there.
Milk & Honey (30 W. Anapamu St.; 275-4232; milknhoneytapas.com) serves up the Elizabeth Departed with a whole lot more moving parts — Rittenhouse rye, sweet vermouth, Cynar, grapefruit juice, mint, and salt — in a double highball glass and one big rock. As an amaro goes, Cynar, flavored with artichoke, can be unusual, but while this is a drink for folks who like bitter, it’s quite smooth, not a pucker maker. Think of it as a new Old Fashioned, almost, and what else could a Frankenstein monster be?
The two other drinks are the Modern Prometheus at Alcazar (1812 Cliff Dr.; 962-0337; alcazartapasbar.com) and The Frankenstein at Viva Modern Mexican (1114 State St.; 965-4770; vivasb.com). I’ll be on the hunt for those next.