Chill Out

By staff January 1, 2002

This is one of the reasons you came to Southwest Florida, to relax at the water's edge and savor a silken libation that's as refreshing as a breeze off the palm trees. Even after you've gone home, you can still recapture that tropical Sarasota flavor with one of these specialties of the town.

Key Lime Martini

Tommy Bahama, St. Armands Circle

Bartender Michele Higley says this signature tropical cooler is especially popular with Northern tourists and Europeans who want something fun but not too fussy. So climb the stairs up to the Tommy Bahama restaurant and bar, where there is island ambience aplenty, and prepare to mellow out.

2 oz. Stoly Vanilla

1 oz. Keke Beach (key lime cream liqueur)

1 1/2 oz. sour mix

1 or 2 crushed graham crackers

Shake the liquid ingredients over ice until frothy. Meanwhile, dip the rim of a martini glass into the crushed graham crackers. Strain the martini into the glass and garnish with key lime.

Fandango Freeze

The Fandango Cafe, Siesta Key

At the Fandango Cafe on Siesta Key, bartender Matthew Lineberger says the hotter the day, the more of this frozen drink he whirls in the blender. One of the lively cafe's signature drinks, the Fandango Freeze looks as refreshing as it tastes; and it also makes a lovely party drink.

1 1/4 oz. Captain Morgan rum (it's spicy)

1 1/4 oz. Malibu rum (coconut flavored)

3/4 oz. orange juice

3/4 oz. pineapple juice

6 fresh or frozen strawberries, cut in small pieces

1/2 of a fresh mango, cut in small pieces

5 oz. of ice (pieces, not whole cubes)

Put everything into a blender and whirl on medium speed for just under a minute. Pour into a hurricane glass and garnish with a slice of fresh pineapple. The straw is up to you.

Bikini Line

Bongo Bar, Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, Longboat Key

Traditionally a French after-dinner drink to have with coffee, pousse cafe (the phrase literally means "push the coffee") drinks became the rage in New Orleans in the 1820s and remain a popular, if unconventional, choice today.

A pousse cafe is a layered drink. Success depends upon proper sequence of composition. The bartender has to understand the density of liquors. Heaviest are poured in first, then lighter ones are floated in layers like a liquid parfait. A bartender trick is to pour the liquids slowly over the back of a teaspoon to insure that the layers don't mingle. There are many different kinds of pousse cafe drinks (some involving up to seven layers), but at the Bongo Bar at The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, food and beverage director Tommy Klauber says guests are having a good time with this one called the Bikini Line.

The recipe calls for equal parts of three ingredients. Pour the liquids into a shooter or pony glass in this order. Vodka, Tia Maria, Chambord. That's it. Looks cool, tastes even better.

My Third Ex-Wife

Michael's On East, Sarasota

Well, the lady obviously had good taste both in bartenders and in fruity-frosty libations. Thomas Tahmosh, who rules the bar at this chic city restaurant, says it's the pineapple juice that appeals to tourists and locals alike who want a cooling drink that evokes a taste of the tropics.

1/2 oz. banana liqueur

1/2 oz. white cacao

1/2 oz. blackberry brandy

1/2 oz. white rum

2 1/2 oz. pineapple juice

Pour into a blender and cover the liquid with ice. Blend on medium speed until frothy. Pour into a tulip glass and then carefully "float" 1/2 ounce of dark rum on top. Garnish with fruit and a straw. Relationships are hard. Getting cozy with this tropical beauty is easy.

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