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Tara Jones: The Bourbon Room on Hollister Serves Up an Eclectic Mix

The bar and restaurant's unique décor, innovative cocktails and full dinner menu hit the spot with locals

The Bourbon Room’s restaurant front features a nameless welcome sign against a peaceful Santa Barbara skyline.
The Bourbon Room’s restaurant front features a nameless welcome sign against a peaceful Santa Barbara skyline.  (Tara Jones / Noozhawk photo)

Drink one arrives and you settle in. Your shoulders relax.

And as you take in the antiquated mix of photos from yesteryear, your mind drifts.

The next thing you know, you’re finishing drink two (or is this three?) and dessert has just arrived.

You look down at your watch and realize you’ve been sitting at the same table for more than two hours. It’s glorious.

Like spending time with an old friend or going home, this is the experience at The Bourbon Room.

It saddens me to think that this was the restaurant and bar that almost wasn’t.

Just one year ago, The Bourbon Room, formerly named Meat and Potatoes, was about to close its doors when one phone call changed the course of the small, out-of-the-way tapas bar.

Enter Anna Sacks.

Currently living in Wisconsin and the owner of the Holiday Music Hotel, Sacks had planned to move back to her hometown of Santa Barbara while staying in the hotel management game.

Ten days before her intended move, her new position as hotel manager became obsolete when the hotel project was quickly shelved.

In a mad dash to find work, she called Al Rojas, then-owner of Meat and Potatoes and current owner of Milk & Honey and Alcazar, who proposed the idea of a partnership to Sacks.

Bourbon House
Outdoor seating under sweet, little twinkle lights sets the mood for intimate dinner parties for the patrons of The Bourbon Room. (Tara Jones / Noozhawk photo)

A quick yes to the partnership proposal, followed by three weeks of long work hours coupled with extensive cocktail research, and The Bourbon Room was born.

With no storefront sign or website, they held their soft opening and were pleasantly surprised with a smash hit response from the Santa Barbara community.

Rojas’ years of experience as a restaurant and bar owner along with Sacks’ innovative, entrepreneurial flair transformed the fledgling tapas bar into a sweet meeting place for the community.

Described as a Victorian/Austinite version of Disney’s Haunted Mansion, The Bourbon Room’s unique décor alone is worth making the trek to “Noleta.”

It was a Tuesday night when I strolled into the restaurant and bar that is nestled behind the Creekside Inn.

Greeted by the friendly staff and seated on the outdoor patio, I enjoyed the drink of the day, which is shared daily with an artful photo on the restaurant's Facebook page.

I drank in the innovative mix of manhattan, old fashioned and whiskey sour that is The Mashup and instantly felt my shoulders relax. The next thing I knew, hours had passed and dessert was arriving at my table.

It was glorious. And I felt like I was home. 

The Bourbon Room is located at 4444 Hollister Ave. in Santa Barbara. The hours of operation are 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Happy hour is 5 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday through Friday.

Tara Jones leads Eat This, Shoot That! and welcomes reader tips and ideas for future columns. She can be reached at [email protected]. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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