Slate Catering / Santa Barbara, CA

Photo Credit: Slate Catering

Live Passionately

The intoxicating flavor of passion fruit makes any event more memorable. Sweet, tangy, and intensely aromatic, passion fruit is perfect for celebratory spring and summer occasions such as bridal showers and weddings.

Slate Catering in sunny Santa Barbara, California, makes a spicy passionfruit margarita with Passion Fruit Concentrate, habanero-infused blue agave silver tequila, lime, and simple syrup. Aptly called Heat of Passion, the drink expertly balances sweet-tart, spicy, and citrusy flavors.

“This has been a top seller at my partner’s tapas restaurants for many years and now for catering for years as well,” says Allie Chandler, who founded Slate Catering in 2019 with veteran restauranteur Alvaro Rojas.

For catering events, Heat of Passion is bottled by hand with sprigs of fresh herbs and flowers and dehydrated citrus wheels tied in twine. The drink is so popular it’s been adapted for aquachile, a Mexican ceviche-style dish with water-pulverized chilis. Allie and Alvaro swap langostino for traditional shrimp in their aquachile and serve it in a passionfruit, lime, and habanero sauce.

Say It with Flowers

Alvaro’s Santa Barbara hotspots Milk & Honey tapas and Alcazar Tapas have led the craft cocktail revolution on California’s Central Coast. Slate Catering, meanwhile, has become one of the area’s most sought-after catering companies. Its rustic-meets-vintage aesthetic incorporates fresh herbs and flowers from local farmers in every plate and glass. Grazing tables, cheese and charcuterie platters, edible centerpieces, and workshops feature abundant fresh local produce, breads, pickles, jams, honey and more.

Slate Catering is inspired by local farmer’s markets as well as the flavors of the world, particularly Spanish, Mexican, and Californian cuisine. They are known for incorporating fresh herbs and flowers from local farmers in every plate and glass, including their menu of hand-bottled cocktails, all garnished with color-coordinated botanicals. A top seller is their Heat of Passion margarita.

Available in glass bottles ranging from a single 5-ounce serving to 750 milliliters for six people, each drink is like a garden in a bottle with flavors of fresh basil and mint, pea flower-infused gin, and habanero-infused tequila. Besides Passion Fruit, Slate Catering uses Prickly Pear in mezcal margaritas. Allie says Kiwi, Mango, and White Peach are regularly on the menu. Something with Sweet Ginger may be in development and a good watermelon purée is on the wish list.

Allie has been using The Perfect Purée for years since Alvaro discovered the company through a restaurant distributor. “It saves us so much time and captures fresh flavors all year, even if it’s off-season for the produce,” she says.

Her advice for other caterers is to be thoughtful about garnishes. “Use things that complement the drink,” she says. More and more clients are requesting low-ABV and no-ABV cocktails, which encourages her to experiment with purées. “The Perfect Purée is a perfect fit to elevate those creations!”