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Downtown Boba's Unicorn and Sidecar's Rollin' 
The Dice Cocktail 

Boba is magic: Downtown Boba’s Unicorn

click to enlarge PHOTO BY HAYLEY THOMAS
  • PHOTO BY HAYLEY THOMAS

The elusive unicorn is chillin’ at Downtown Boba, and I can tell just by taking a peek at the tea joint’s lilac-painted door. No, I’m not losing it. Each quarter, owner and proud Cal Poly graduate Samir Aburashed has resolved to paint the door a different hue in honor of the featured drink. If this sounds like a lot of work, you don’t know Aburashed. He also owns Fattoush and Petra, yet has enough energy to chat up new customers with genuine interest. The new family-oriented hangout aims to bring crepes, Turkish coffee, hummus, and a rainbow of slushy, milk tea, snow bubble, and frappe drinks to what he calls “the happy corridor” of downtown. Taro— the starchy, purple-tinged plant native to Southern India and Southeast Asia—is a staple of Downtown Boba’s Unicorn bubble tea. Like the mystical creature, the flavor—akin to sweet potato and vanilla—is rare and captivating, with an ethereal lavender hue. The chilled beverage is bursting with tapioca bubbles and lychee jelly, sweetened with agave honey, and finished with whipped cream. An oversized, neon-colored straw assists with sucking up those smooth, playful bubbles, and—if you use your imagination—looks a little like a unicorn horn. Take a seat in the back patio, sign a funny message on the glass window (it’s encouraged), and order the baklava, made by Aburashed’s very own mom. I imagine the mixture of delicate filo dough, gooey honey, tannic walnuts, and salty pistachios is exactly what the centaur people of Fantasia would eat while frolicking through glittering waterfalls.

Unicorn Boba, About $3.75, 
1133 Garden Street, SLO.

Risky business: Sidecar’s Rollin’ 
The Dice Cocktail

click to enlarge PHOTO BY HAYLEY THOMAS
  • PHOTO BY HAYLEY THOMAS

If you happen to catch Sidecar owner and mixologist Josh Christensen behind the bar, ask him to tell you the story behind Rollin’ the Dice. The bold combination of house whole leaf tobacco-infused Ilegal brand Mezcal, lime juice, grilled pineapple juice, house-made vanilla syrup, and black salt-lined rim is the culmination of years of crafty cocktail experience in Hip Nightlife Capitol of the World, Austin, Texas. Incredibly smoky—and boasting a teensy bit of natural nicotine—the citrusy, salty powerhouse of a drink is sure to put a little gravel in your gullet and a swagger in your step. The self-proclaimed “drink nerd” has recently unfurled an all-new, ever-changing cocktail program that can be summed up in one word: “Ambitious.” A quick scan of ingredients revealed house-made chipotle candied bacon, celery bitters, and rose-infused vodka; dashes of locally sourced Re:Find Gin and grapefruit beer; as well as egg white concoctions that harken back to olden times. Although Christensen draws inspiration from the past, these are not your grand-daddy’s drinks. Like many a cunning artist before him, this passionate bartender isn’t afraid to take momentous risks in the quest for glory. For those who want to get intimate with a cocktail shaker and some truly inspired ingredients, sign up for Sidecar’s upcoming cocktail classes. Because drinking is grand, but knowing the impetus behind your booze? That’s another layer of flavor.

Rollin’ The Dice, $13; 
1127 Broad Street, SLO.

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