BACKGROUND: The Goodland Hotel’s new lead bartender, in charge of drinks at both The Outpost and The Good Bar, is Gabrielle Ricord. Her hospitality career started humbly as a hostess at Eureka Burger, where she was dazzled by the fast-paced, creative experience of bartending while filling in for an absent barback. She became a bartender and learned a great deal about spirits, beers, and basic cocktails, but then graduated from college and was pressured to get a “real job.” She became an administrative assistant in Summerland, remembering, “It was just terrible, horrible.”
So she applied for a bartending gig at Finch & Fork in the Canary Hotel and thrived under the mentorship of mixologist George Piperis. After only a year under his guidance, Ricord was asked by Piperis to enter a Southern California–wide competition that he was unable to attend. She was scared, but she went for it, walking away with second place — and a whole lot of confidence.
When the Canary’s sister property in Goleta, The Goodland Hotel, found itself without a lead bartender, Ricord got a call from former lead Mary Valdez. “She was like, ‘You’re the first person I thought of,’” said Ricord. “Here I am now, happy as can be.”
THE INSPIRATION: “I’ll either come up with a clever name I want to base a drink off of or come up with a garnish I want to use,” explained Ricord of her creative process. “Or I’ll think, ‘Hmm, I love that snack. I wonder if I can make it into a drink.’” Right now, she’s brainstorming how she can make a cocktail with a potato-chip garnish since Outpost makes the snack in-house.
Growing up with an artist mother who encouraged her ingenuity, Ricord finds it crucial that the drinks she serves are “visually stunning.” She points to the “5 O’clock Shadow” as an example, which is decorated artfully with a lime peel in a zigzag shape.
She truly respects the craft of the distillers. “The liquor is their art, so to speak,” explained Ricord, who prefers to celebrate spirits rather than hide them behind juices and syrups. “We’re all here to drink anyway. We might as well enjoy the liquor we’re drinking!”
SIPS TO SAVOR: The new menus are full of drinks with fresh and seasonal ingredients. The Outpost’s “Cross Your T’s” is a play on an Old Fashioned with chamomile-infused Old Forester Bourbon, Amaretto, and angostura and plum bitters. Though the drink is inspired by wintertime Hot Toddies, Ricord adds the taste of spring using floral and fruit flavors. “I thought chamomile would be perfect because it’s so bright and sweet,” she said. “And the dash of plum bitters works because they’re super in season this time of year in Santa Barbara.”
Over at Good Bar, Ricord recommends the “What’s the Dill?,” which contains Yellow Chartreuse, Suze, dill-infused Dolin Blanc, and The Botanist gin. It’s Ricord’s take on a White Negroni, “but it’s more bitter, more forward,” she clarified. The cocktail’s dill-infused vermouth offers unique bitter undertones that differ from the expected pickle taste. “It’s not vinegary at all,” she promised. “People are afraid, but once they try it, they experience something completely different from what they thought, and I actually kinda like that.” The finishing touch is a sweet strawberry garnish that balances out the directness of the dill.
NEXT UP: There’s always something to look forward to at The Goodland, since the menu changes every three months. Ricord is excited to roll out alcoholic popsicles, hard kombucha, seltzers, and a wider selection of beer for the summertime, and she’s still brainstorming even more options. “That’s the cool thing about the craft cocktail world,” Ricord explained. “It’s an exponential expansion. I’m learning new things every single day.”
Good Bar will also be adding another event to its roster along with Vino & Vinyasa Mondays (wine and yoga), Yappy Hour Tuesdays (bring your dog), Trivia Wednesdays, live music on Thursdays, lawn game tournaments on Fridays and Saturdays, and DJ Darla Bea on Sundays. “We really wanna encourage people from the community to come in,” she said. “These events aren’t just for hotel people; they’re for everybody. It’s fun to be able to build relationships with people that live just down the street.”