Test Pilot

Santa Barbara, CA
I want to go!
Plan your visit:
Get there
I have been!
Report back to Critiki:
Add Pics
211 Helena Ave.
Santa Barbara, CA
Opened in September 2016
Mon-Thu 4pm-1am
Fri 4pm-2am
Sat 2pm-2am
Sun 2pm-1am
(805) 845-2518

Critiki ratings

Test Pilot



by 37 people



Everyone You
Decor 5.6
Drink Quality 8.4
Drink Selection 7.4
Mood 5.1
Music 4.7
Service 9.2
Tikiness 3.8
Tilt 5.5
Vibe 4.6

Upcoming Visits

Regulars & Visitors

View all 69 Test Pilot regulars & visitors

Humuhumu’s description

Test Pilot is a "tiki-inspired" craft cocktail bar in Santa Barbara. It opened in September 2016. The decor is tiki-lite, with just a few tiki masks on one wall. The walls are painted turquoise, and there is a light beachy feel to the space. The drinks, some served in tiki mugs, are modified versions of tiki cocktails, and some originals.


Menehune has visited Test Pilot.
October 10, 2019, 9:06 AM
It's hard to put a handle on Test Pilot. The best description I could give is that it feels like a yacht club with a splash of tiki. The drink menu is decent but not many classics so you have to roll the dice a little. The Montenegro served in a pineapple was good as was the Mai Tai and while the Zombie was excellent and served in a tiki mug, the Suisse Family Robinson just did not work. Just when my wife and I were getting used to the yacht club vibe, a couple of groups came in that were clearly regulars and who clearly have no idea what a tiki bar is. They were drunk, smoking weed inside, and one of them brought his dog. I am a dog person but a dog does not belong in the bar let alone sitting with his owner in the swinging chair.
Was optimistic going in but the crowd soured things. Can't see myself going back.
Monster A GoGo
Monster A GoGo has visited Test Pilot.
February 1, 2019, 12:51 PM
I really expected to be utterly disappointed with Test Pilot. I learned about it on Critiki and was not impressed by what I saw. Seeing it in person did not bolster that feeling as I first walked in. It was only once we were at the bar and being waited on by a very friendly and personable bartender that this place.

Holden was amazing. He turned my disappointment into utter admiration for the place. And he could whip up some incredible cocktails. You can read about my experience (complete with photos with tales of other nearby tiki spots) on my blog. The link is here:


Test Pilot gets an A+ in my book...and that is 100% because of its amazing bartender, Holden.

Trader Dick
Trader Dick is a regular at Test Pilot, and is usually there Sunday late afternoon and often other weekdays..
January 12, 2019, 11:55 AM
As others have said, this really isn't a Tiki Bar, but it's as close as we have so far in Santa Barbara. While some tiki artifacts exist, it seems to have more of a nautical feel, perhaps because the location was once a Navy brig and it's in the Funk Zone near the pier and ocean. There aren't very many true classic tiki cocktails as most are "mixologist" takes on the classics, or complete departures from that, so I wish they would convert to a more authentic range of drinks, especially since they have sister bar up on State Street called Good Lion, which is pure craft-cocktail themed. My favorite here is the "Pain Killer" with a dark rum floater, basically a tropical fruit based slushy. The atmosphere is pleasant, with a small patio, a comfy front area with sofa and soft chairs, and an inviting enclosed den-like sitting area arranged in a U shape. The staff is friendly, the cocktails are consistent, and overall the experience is enjoyable. Just wish they'd go more "Tiki Like" with the drinks, but was told shortly after they opened that the owner(s) wanted to establish a place that promoted craft cocktails that had some Tiki inspiration to them.
View all 7 comments
Upcoming Visits
Regulars & Visitors
  • Trader Dick
  • BitnerDesign
  • kevincrothers
  • TikiBri
  • pootie2good
  • wayne-tiki-tiki
  • Trader Tom
  • NautiTiki
  • Zombieki
  • californialife
  • phynix
  • KeithH
  • tikiwagon
  • The Porkchop Express
  • Astro Zombie
  • A'Pau-ling
View all 69 Test Pilot regulars & visitors