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Tara Jones: Reds Bin Melds Art and Science in Funk Zone

Art show features various distillation processes of Cutler’s Artisan Spirits

By Tara Jones, Noozhawk Columnist |

Reds Bin, located in The Funk Zone, is where art and science meet.

Hosting a new art show featuring the various distillation processes of Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, curated by the Santa Barbara Arts Fund’s Marcello Ricci, Reds is taking the passion of science and art and seamlessly blending them into a collaborative exhibition that feeds both body and soul.

With pop-up stores, tasting rooms and gastropub-style bites around every corner, the Funk Zone is rife with one-of-a-kind events making hipsters and foodies feel as though they’ve stumbled into an epicurean-like Disneyland.

Other places like Seven Bar & Kitchen, just around the corner from Reds, serving up farm-to-bar drinks and neighbor The Lark offering custom cocktail and food pairing nights have made the Funk Zone not just another place to order a drink. It’s a place for an experience.

Every 30-something artisan shop owner, tasting room manager, and bartender in the neighborhood, like Marcello Ricci and Ian Cutler, have not only perfected their craft, but are now combining their passions and taking it to the masses.

Ricci met Cutler while working at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co, next door to Cutler’s Artisan, where both discovered a symbiotic love of art and spirits, which led to their dream of combining both passions into a curated 8-month exhibition, Spirits.

Verbatim, the blueberry-and-lemon-flavored signature Spirits cocktail at Reds Bin in the Funk Zone. (Tara Jones photo)

Reds, formerly dubbed a coffee shop in the early 2000s, is one of the Funk Zone’s original inhabitants offering artisan cocktails, beers from around the world, wine, and small bite plates in a charmingly eclectic space.

As I was led around the room by Ricci, drinking in the photography, print making, paintings, films, and assemblage interpretations of the distilling process, I slowly sipped the art show’s signature drinks, Verbatim and the Tipsy Jalapeno.

Made with Cutler’s seven times distilled vodka, Verbatim’s blueberry and lemon flavors fed my senses while the eclectic art pieces depicting the various ideas and processes behind distilling spirits fed my intellect.

The Tipsy Jalapeno’s mildly sweet grapefruit and lemon juices were balanced perfectly with the spicy ginger, jalapeno and savory rosemary.

Ricci’s unique approach to his premier art show was risky as he took a chance on the unknown giving the commissioned artists free reign on their interpretive art pieces, hoping they would all seamlessly fit together.

The savory and spicy Tipsy Jalapeno, created exclusively for the Spirits exhibition at Reds Bin in the Funk Zone. (Tara Jones photo)

From Dan Levins’ Willy Wonka-style assemblages to Nik Blaskovich’s photography and film footage reminiscent of a lava lamp showing magnified pictures of the actual distilling process overhead the other pieces, this happy accident, complete with complimentary cocktails, is a fun and funky way to shake up the cocktail hour.

The vodka portion of this collaborative art show will be shown until early October.

Cutler’s gin, apple pie liqueur, and bourbon exhibitions will be showing in the following months with a portion of the proceeds going to the Santa Barbara Arts Fund.

Reds, at 211 Helena Ave., is open Wednesday through Sunday from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Entry to this event is free and open to the public until 9 p.m., when it becomes 21-or-older only.

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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