Because friends don't let friends suck at drinking in Santa Barbara, we're rounding up the absolute best places to get your booze on in/near SB (a bunch of which we guarantee you don't even know exist), from a secret strip mall cocktail den, to a craft brewery located inside a storage unit BEHIND THE GOLETA CHP.
If you're looking for a great gin bar, DO NOT GO HERE. Halfway between Goleta and SB, TBR is (surprise!) a whiskey bar that feels a little bit like a cross between a cabin and a general store - it's super cozy, super bourbon-y (they've got 20+ behind the bar), and super only-$5-for-whiskey-sours-during-happy-hour-Tuesday-through-Friday.
Started by a pair of long-time home brewers ("Captain" and "Fatty") and a third dude who started dating Fatty's cousin, this brand-new, suuuuuuuper small-batch operation does a barrel of beer at a time inside a storage unit that doubles as Santa Barbara's coolest tap room. Because, oh right, it's behind the Goleta CHP. Beers include everything from a signature Vortex IPA, to a Toasted Cinnamon Carrot Porter that tastes exactly as good as it sounds (and it sounds super good).
The best part, though? While you sip on a crazy-reasonable ($2 per 4oz taster) flight, you can also play this crazy-addictive bar game where you try to swing a metal ring onto a hook positioned just below a boat steering wheel.
Grant Marek/ThrillistSanta Barbara
Right on the Downtown/Funk Zone border, Casa Blanca is a Spanish-style cantina with a goldmine patio (SERIOUSLY, LOOK AT IT) and alllllllllllll the types of margaritas, from flights of three, to margarita tubes (10-12 margs filled into a giant tower for $65!!), to margs made with a barrel of pre-blended Herradura - pulled from the tequila giant's hacienda specifically for Casa Blanca. Santa Barbara
There are two pretty solid Irish bars Downtown: Dargan's and James Joyce. And while the English major in us wants to go with James Joyce, the Drinking major in us has to side with Dargan's, mostly because THERE'S A GIANT LEPRECHAUN STATUE AT THE FRONT DOOR THAT YOU CAN TAKE INSTAGRAMS WITH!!! (But also pool, darts, tons of Irish whiskeys, a more chill second bar in back with a fireplace lounge, and an owner who's an actual Irishman plus a third generation pub owner.)
Go for the patio, stay for the Top Ramen behind the bar, stay longer for the Ms. Pac-Man table game, stay even longer for the Belgian beers, stay EVEN LONGER for the coffee bar-meets-regular bar vibe, then leave when you run out of cash. Santa Barbara