This week: The Aviation at Michael’s On East
The drink: Oh, gin. Before martinis were being made in flavors like lemon-basil and strawberry-tarragon, gin, with its slightly pine-y juniper flavor, brought the herbal experience all by itself. In Michael’s Aviation (named for the brand of gin), it’s matched with lemon juice, maraschino liqueur and crème de violette. It is, with every sip, repeatedly fascinating, as though the gin is there to keep the other flavors from getting too out of hand. A more mature kind of fruity cocktail.
The bar: Call the lighting design “flattering.” The lounge is dimmer than you might expect, even in daylight hours. But the result is that you feel welcome—encouraged, even—to look around, see who’s sitting next to you or try to make eye contact across the room. Sit at the bar, and chances are you’ll strike up fun conversations with casual sophisticates of various ages.
Food: Michael’s lounge bites menu deserves serious attention. It’s loaded with refined bar flavors, both American and international, from the half-pound burger to Thai chicken wings to blackened fish tacos. Lots of $5 options, too.
Other notable potables: The specialty cocktail menu features primarily gin and vodka options, with a couple of bourbon and Scotch concoctions thrown in the mix. Sitting in Michael’s On East and sipping a Side Car (Hennessy, lemon juice, simple syrup, triple sec) feels like Sarasota-flavored film noir.