The Pearl Social - Santa Barbara
“So this guy walks into the bar yesterday…” That’s at least how all bar stories start. Now I firmly believe it will change to “So I walked in to this bar last night and the cocktails were amazing”. That is the type of culture I have been trying to deliver here at The Pearl Social. Not just here but everywhere I have worked. My name is Alberto Geovani Castillo and I am new to Santa Barbara. I started my cocktail career in Rancho Cucamonga for Paul Martin’s American Grill. Doing training and development and cocktail development there. Slowly moving my way through Pasadena and Los Angeles. Then, I worked with Lawry’s the Prime Rib and doing their cocktail program and developing the scotch and bourbon program for the Tam O’Shanter in Atwater village. Helping to develop that cocktail program and starting a speakeasy there was recognized as one of the best pop-up speakeasies in LA, and then…we all know what happened…Covid.
I helped create and develop the cocktail program for Que Padre and Hank’s in Santa Monica. I moved my way up to Santa Barbara to find something different. I discovered Acme Hospitality and it has been amazing. But I digress. Being able to put my experience and background to this hospitality group and at the Pearl Social has been amazing. The team behind the bar has extraordinary creativity and I love seeing the passion they put into the cocktails. I mean craft cocktails really came back alive around the 2000s with the resurgence of speakeasy-type cocktails, classic forgotten tiki-drinks and my absolute favorite….the Negroni. Pearl Social goes beyond just making a classic Negroni. I love using local and artisanal spirits. Not that any big brand spirit is bad, but I love to showcase what small distilleries have to offer. Before my arrival, bartender Jason Barrow came up with a version of a classic with Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin, Averna, Cynar and Chartreuse- The Martin and GINa. We used a sous-vide method for Apricot-infused Cognac in our Au Jour le Jour cocktail.
The idea has to always come from a base, and I always have a vision of a drink through the lens of a classic. My rule of thumb is, if you master the classics, you can do anything with any cocktail. Accident in Paradise is a drink that has a mix called the Green Monster, a mix of cucumber, mint and cilantro among other things (can’t give away all the trade secrets!). The menu changes throughout the seasons or as we get news items that we want to showcase. Being able to have creative control over the menu here and at The Lark is amazing. I definitely want to deliver the best product not only for Pearl Social and The Lark but for Acme Hospitality. They are, what I believe to be, the best Hospitality group here in Santa Barbara and I want to do everything possible to make them stand out among the rest.
I want to see our bar included in Tales of the Cocktail for the best bar in the United States! The possibilities are endless for a hospitality group like this where they give you opportunity to showcase everything you have and help develop their cocktail program. Pearl Social is on vacation until January with a holiday popup. But, come 2022, we will be doing new cocktails, shrubs and infusing, continuing to elevate our cocktail programs. If you see me at the bar, ask me to make you the best Negroni in town.
- Alberto Geovani Castillo
Assistant General Manager,
The Lark and Pearl Social
Cocktail Developer and Avid Cocktail Connoisseur