I guess the scent of fresh lavender just does something to me. As I drive down the tree-lined gravel driveway into Los Poblanos, I roll my windows down and let the humid summer air blow through, and I feel instantly calmed. I have my shirt tucked in and my Nice Shoes™ on, and my friend Natalie is similarly dressed. We’re going to try the new drinks at Bar Campo.
Campo, the restaurant at Los Poblanos, is such a treat to the eye. It blends so well with the fields and the old farmhouse architecture of the inn, and inside it opens up into high ceilings, dark wood and huge windows allowing a view towards the mountains. The bar, which everyone walks past on the way to the restaurant, is staffed by people with elegant hairstyles and butcher’s aprons. Even on a Wednesday night the place is buzzing. We find two seats and open the drink menu.
There is, of course, a lot of lavender in this drink list. I order the lavender ’99 ($14), a Los Poblanos take on the classic French 75—Wheeler’s gin, créme de violette, Domaine St. Vincent brut, lemon and fresh lavender. It’s a sweet and floral drink that reminds me vaguely of the violet hard candies I remember getting from the drugstore as a little kid. On top of this heavier, sweeter flavor is the lemon and fresh lavender, which, along with the champagne, lightens up the palate some and makes the drink smell wonderful. The color is a lovely muted purple-grey that Natalie immediately ruins for me by saying “It’s not not reminiscent of grape Kool-Aid.” This comes served in a large stemless wine glass with a sprig of dried lavender and plenty of ice.
Natalie asks for a recommendation and is directed to the Campo margarita ($13). Pasote tequila blanco, naranja liqueur, lime and lavender, all in a small rocks glass. There’s a lavender salt rim too, just in case you forgot where you were drinking. It’s a good margarita but, besides the addition of lavender, there’s not a whole lot that’s unique about it.
We sip our drinks from the leather armchairs in a quiet corner of the bar, legs crossed, feeling a little like tourists in our own city. Natalie tries to convince me to write a book and, perhaps because I have some gin in me by this time, I hear myself saying “hey, that’s a good idea.” Everyone walking by into the restaurant is attractive and looks like they’re probably visiting from LA. We take too long to finish our drinks and almost forget to pay on the way out.
My companion orders the mint penny ($12), a delicate green cocktail served in a shallow champagne saucer. It’s made with Wheeler’s gin from Santa Fe Spirits, muddled fresh mint from the Los Poblanos farm and lime juice—it tastes like mint, concentrated. It’s delightful. My second drink, the master and manzanilla ($15), is centered around chamomile—“manzanilla” is the Spanish word for chamomile. There’s chamomile infused Monopolowa vodka, manzanilla sherry, lemon and honey in this elegant drink. On top is a sprig of fresh budding oregano, which adds an earthy note to the otherwise light drink. It’s a soothing mix and great for a nightcap.
In general, you’ll like the Campo cocktail list if you enjoy very herb-forward, fragrant drinks. None of them are overly sweet or cloying—just like the restaurant, the bar at Campo operates on a philosophy that using good, fresh ingredients in simple pairings will produce very tasty results. Bar Campo won’t be my regular watering hole as I don’t relish paying upwards of $13 for a cocktail on just any night. But, just like the rest of Los Poblanos, it provides a secluded little oasis that somehow feels far away from normal life. It is a beautiful place to escape to for the span of a drink or two.
When I get home from dropping my drinking companion off, my neighbor is unloading his car after a long trip. While we’re catching up I tell him that I’ve just been to Campo for drinks, and he smiles. “It’s such a great environment there. You could find good drinks in other places in the city, but you won’t find a setting like that.”