Shaken, Blended and Stirred
First & Pineapple was named after the traffic intersection where it was created—the Bijou Café. It’s a blend of Chambord (black raspberry liqueur), lemon rum and pineapple juice gloriously united in a shaker filled with crushed ice. This fruity elixir glistens with promise in a martini glass, garnished with a wedge of fresh pineapple and a cherry. 1287 First St .Sarasota (941)366-8111.
The savvy mixologists at Ceviche Tapas Bar have created a liquid sugar fix replete with guilty pleasures. White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie Martini combines Van Gogh vanilla vodka, crème de banana, white chocolate liqueur and cream. Served in a martini glass laced with chocolate syrup, this sweet dessert drink is one of the best reasons around to consider a liquid diet. 1216First St., Sarasota (941) 952-1036.
The Sazerac was created in the 1830s, but it's new in town at Michael’s Wine Cellar. This intoxicating elixir of Peychaud’s Bitters, brandy and absinthe won’t induce hallucinations—although it may inspire delirious verse. Peychaud served his in an egg cup (known as a “coquetier,” which is perhaps where the term “cocktail” was born). Michael’s serves its in a martini glass—but it’s just as intoxicating. 1283 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 955-2675.
There’s nothing like a refreshing summertime drink—even in the dead of winter. And nothing conjures up the taste of summer like a fresh peach. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar offers its new Royal Peach cocktail, a fresh and fruity libation made with DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps, Mount Gay Rum and pineapple juice. So simple and sweet it will warm your palate any time of year. 2001 Siesta Drive, Sarasota (941) 358-9463.
Warren Belford, the bar manager at Big Sugar, can reel in a Blue Marlin on dry land. Served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass with an orange slice, this island-inspired cocktail is a refreshing mix of citrus-infused rum, blue Curacao liqueur and a robust measure of sour mix. Consider it an orange twist on the traditional lemon drop martini. 1900 Hillview St., Sarasota (941) 388-7679.
Hyde Park Prime Steak House’s sinful Crushed Berry makes you want to salute Stephen Poplawski, the blender’s inventor. What goes into Hyde Park’s blender? A nourishing mix of Ketel One vodka, vine-picked blackberries and fresh lime juice. What emerges? A vibrant, colorful, intensely flavorful cocktail that’s tangy on the tongue and sweet going down. What better way to celebrate the bounty of the blackberry? 35 S. Lemon Ave., Sarasota (941) 366-7788.
For a taste of tropical paradise, ask for an Island Margarita at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion. A soul-warming pour of Cabo Wabo silver tequila is accompanied by a hearty shot of Cointreau orange liqueur, a dash of fresh lime sour and a spike of Ling Hi Mui powder. (That’s plum powder for you Occidentals—a tangy concoction that’s sweet, salty and sour all at once.) When your appetite craves the unexpected, reach for one of these. 2001 Siesta Drive, Sarasota (941) 952-0109.
Libby’s Lemonade at Libby’s Café + Bar was invented by co-owner Steve Seidensticker’s mother, Libby, who first tried it on Seidensticker’s sons and business partners, Patrick and Joseph (once they got to drinking age, of course). This motherly mix of lemon-infused vodka, fresh-squeezed organic lemonade and hibiscus nectar will keep you happy and healthy throughout the cold season. When life gives you lemons, drink one of these! 1917 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota (941) 487-7300.
Chef Paul Mattison’s Rangpur Nigroni is all the rage at Mattison’s Forty One—and we know why. This invigorating mix of Campari and sweet vermouth is mated with Tangueray rangpur (a mellowed-out species of gin steeped in botanicals and re-distilled with rangpur, a hybrid of lemons and mandarin oranges). Served over ice with a wedge of orange, this aromatic aperitif takes you where no martini has gone before. 7275 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 921-3400.
The Lido Beach Grille offers a postcard-worthy view of the beach. What more could you want? How about a Sandi Panti, a chilled martini glass filled with cool sipping pleasure. Bartender Brian Hill’s invention is a smooth and decadent collision of premium white chocolate, Razz Vodka, Chambord and fresh, whole raspberries. This silken after-dinner drink makes the finest sunset look even finer. 700 Ben Franklin Drive, Sarasota (941) 388-5608.
Our 10 Best lists are not ranked in order of numerical preference.