Where to Drink in Santa Barbara: San Ysidro Ranch 

Posted on Apr 6, 2016


West Coast (Cocktail) Swing: San Ysidro Ranch

Our West Coast (Cocktail) Swing culminates at the spectacular San Ysidro Ranch. Ever since the days of Bing Crosby and Lauren Bacall, San Ysidro Ranch has been a favorite place for Hollywood Royalty and their glittering friends to get away for a few days of peace, relative privacy, and rustic but luxurious comfort–just ask Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom, who happened to be there at the same time as us. It’s almost always on the short list of top luxury hotels and resorts. You can see why. As soon as you turn into the driveway, it’s almost magically quiet, beautiful, and hospitable. The thick, beautiful gardens make every bungalow and patio seem like its own little world,  a little world that has perfect views of both the mountains and the ocean and is only steps away from luxury dining.

We found ourselves here for a wedding, held in the most charming of wine cellars and the patio just outside of it. It was a wonderful occasion to spend an afternoon and evening in such a delightful setting.

We couldn’t afford to stay at the Ranch–not even close–but we could afford to buy a drink. And how can you resist at least trying out the bar in a setting like this? So, we ducked briefly away from the wedding reception to the hotel bar, the Plow and Angel, which looked exactly like you’d expect this hotel’s bar to look: a cozy, luxurious version of a Spanish-style tavern.

What We Ordered

Montecito Mule: bourbon, ginger, lemon and orange juice, ginger beer

Chanteuse: vodka, apple puree, pear liqueur, champagne

What We Thought

The Mule was a solid, well-made Bourbon and ginger drink. We’re always fans of mules with whiskey instead of vodka, and they did it well.

The Chanteuse is confusingly named. When I ordered it, the bartender looked slightly befuddled and came back with a shot of Chartreuse, which is always welcome but not what I ordered. I tried again, putting an extra stress on the ‘n’ and the lack of ‘r,’ and getting a little help from another bartender chipping in with, ‘the apple and pear one.’ It was worth the confusion. The Chanteuse tasted exactly like we’d hope a drink at the San Ysidro Ranch would. With the fruit and the champagne, it’s on the sweet side, and a little light for a martini. But neither too sweet nor too light. The apple puree was the pleasant surprise that made the drink. Being made from tart, green apples, when combined with the pear liqueur it had the effect of an upscale, adult candy apple. It was a delightful after dinner martini.

Should You Go?

Well, yes. The bar isn’t world-ranking in and of itself, but it provides the perfect excuse to pretend for a few minutes that you’re on Hollywood’s A-list. If you do go, we recommend the Chanteuse, and we recommend putting an extra stress on the ‘n.’










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