The bar's the star at Sanctuaria

From the moment I sat down at the bar at Sanctuaria, I knew I was in a taste adventure. Mixologist Matthew Sietier has created a notable drink menu that offers both classic – Ramos Gin Fizz, a creamy frothy drink of deliciousness – and creative concoctions.

When a mixologist like Seiter is behind the bar, it is like watching a chef with a shelf full of spices from which to choose. Case in point: After sampling the Margarita de la Casa, which was very good, I wanted to see if there was something even better. Seiter whipped up his best Margarita, a creation built with Añejo Tequila (aged in oak for a year or more) shaken with Cognac, orange and lime juice and strained; no ice and no orange liqueur. It was a fantastic and elegant creation. Seiter and I agreed that it was probably not actually a Margarita; we decided to call it a Maria Antoinette to reflect both the Mexican and French ingredients. We also agreed that too many of them could cause you to lose your head.

The wine list is limited. There are over two dozen wines available; none are American, but all are well-chosen from South America and Europe. The Cruz de Piedra Grenache 2007 from the Calatayud region of Spain was suggested on the menu as a complement to the vaca frita with chimichurri. The hearty red was a great balance to the flash-fried shredded Angus beef over potato purée. About half of the wines are available by the glass and none are priced at over $50 per bottle.

But the star of the drinking show at Sanctuaria here is Seiter’s bar. So for the final act, I challenged Seiter to create a beer cocktail. He used the locally produced Cathedral Square White Ale and combined it with egg white, gin, orange juice, cilantro and agave nectar. As with all of Seiter’s cocktails, the ingredients came through in balance. I look forward to returning to Sanctuaria to have another as soon as possible.

To read Michael Renner's review of the cuisine at Sanctuaria, visit Gourmet Guru in the reviews section.