On my honeymoon to Spain, I enjoyed endless variations on the country’s signature cocktail: gin & tonic. It was a welcome surprise to see a similar commitment to the drink at Ty Lounge, the Spanish themed tapas bar with red walls, stalactite-like chandeliers and a palm-lined patio named for Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara owner Ty Warner.
The gin & tonic program is a nod to the property’s history. Architect Reginald Johnson blended Mediterranean, Spanish and Moorish elements in 1926. Hotel management worked with the resident executive chef and sous chef on a 2014 remodel that focused more on Spanish flavors, including cocktails. According to Director of Public Relations Emilie Plouchart, “At the time, we were experimenting with cooking fruit shrubs in the kitchen and it was truly an “ah-ha” moment when we added our creations to the classic gin and tonic, along with hand-picked botanicals from Chef’s garden.” Since then, Ty Lounge General Manager Jennifer Higgins, Assistant Manager Gerardo Ibarra, and Supervisor Joshua Burrey have collaborated with house mixologists, keeping seasonal ingredients in mind, with many grown on property.
Each gin & tonic features a different gin to spotlight unique botanicals, along with different tonic water, shrub, and herbs or spices. I drifted toward G&T Sueño ($18), which translates from Spanish as dream. In this case, aromatic Nolet’s gin paired well with elderflower Fever Tree tonic, cardamom, spicy peppercorns, and coconut grapefruit shrub. Add more tangy coconut vinegar-based shrub or tonic water to achieve your preferred balance.
Plouchart said, “The inspiration behind the G&T Sueño started in the Summer during the warmer days of the year as we pondered a perfect representation in a G&T. The pairing of the coconut grapefruit shrub was created by Joshua Burrey, who envisioned the concept utilizing organic coconut vinegar instead of the Champagne or apple cider vinegar previously used. This added a wonderful nutty finish to the acidity of the grapefruit and balanced perfectly with the floral and fruit forward profile of Nolet’s Silver gin. The elderflower tonic gives a subtle and delicate sweet finish and the peppercorn and cardamom add a hint of aromatic spice.”