By staff July 1, 2005

Belly up to the Sand Bar for the Grande Margarita. Toast your good luck (you're in Florida) with this tequila-based cooler from the outdoor deck overlooking the Gulf. It's a generous pour, and with strains of Jimmy Buffett wasting away again, the salty sea breeze and more salt around the rim, you could go 'round and 'round all night. Our recommendation: Order dinner. $12. The Sand Bar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria. (941) 778-0444.

Keyed up. Tommy Bahama serves a perfect pastiche of drink and dessert with the Key Lime Martini, a potable pie right down to the graham cracker crust on the rim. It's tart but not puckery, smooth but with a counterpoint of crunch, sweet and sour both (brown sugar and fresh lime juice), but bracing. Stoli Vanilla and Keke Beach liqueur will do that. $8. Tommy Bahama Tropical Café and Emporium, 300 John Ringling Blvd., St. Armands. (941) 388-2888.

Tonic time. The Green Earth Elixir at Whole Foods is cool but spicy, clean and green. Made from perfectly ripened fruits and vegetables, this seasonal sipper actually tastes like summer. Fresh apples, beets, spinach and carrots recall the joys of produce at its peak. Simultaneously, an infusion of wheat grass hints of newly mowed lawns, while spirulina-packed with proteins and antioxidants-revs the system. $5.49. Whole Foods, 1451 First St. (941) 955-8500.

Miami's vice. For years, Caribbean islanders have celebrated the celestial flavors of dark rum made from the local cane, then infused with a medley of tropical juices. The Jumbie Runner is a tasty toss of Rum Jumbie liqueur, rum, banana liqueur, orange juice and a splash of grenadine; you'll find it at The Beach Club in Siesta Village. Spicy, rich and warm, it could keep you jammin' all summer long. $8. The Beach Club, 5151 Ocean Blvd. (941) 349-6311.

The new hue. Fashion's favorite for summer, blue is also a big deal in Ophelia's Sarasota Bay Martini. An eye-catching blend of Ketel One Vodka, orange-flavored Curaçao liqueur and a splash of pineapple juice, this bright blue beverage becomes edible art that's pretty potent. But when the stem of the glass starts to look crooked, don't worry; it started out that way. $8.95. Ophelia's On The Bay, 9105 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key. (941) 349-2212.

Southern comfort. For the ultimate beat-the-heat refresher, go South.really South. A Southern Hemisphere favorite, the Mojito tempts the taste buds. A bit of sweet, a touch of sour, a hint of mint and some exotica (rum), this cocktail conjures all the piratical associations of throw-caution-to-the-wind wild times. Tastes good, too. $10, Selva Grill, 1345 Main St. (941) 362-4427.

Coffee mate. The Espresso Martini at Michael's On East is as good a way to close out the evening as the more sober brew is to start your day. A rich indulgence of Stoli Vanilla, Dark Crème de Cacao and Starbuck's Espresso Coffee liqueur, this drink is one of life's little perks. Deadly and delicious! $11.50. Michael's On East, 1212 S. East Ave. (941) 366-0007.

Punch it up. The Columbia's Champagne Sangria boasts all the flavor of the traditional mix-Rioja red wine, brandy, Grand Torres, fresh fruit and soda-plus a bit of celebratory bubbly. It's light enough for lunch (just put a siesta in the schedule) and super for supper. Divine for a date and a real crowd pleaser to boot, since it's sold by the pitcher. $18.95. The Columbia Restaurant, 411 St. Armands Circle. (941) 388-3987.

Pure and simple. The total indulgence of the perfect chocolate shake, just as you remember it. Thick, chocolatey, real. Of course it starts with hand-made McClain's ice cream: no gelatin base, no whipped air, no preservatives. Just pure cane sugar, fresh cream, real fruit, high-grade vanilla or good chocolate. And then there's the mix. A great shake requires weight. This one is thick and substantial. $3.10. Ice Cream Racer II, 2301 Gulf Gate Drive. (941) 922-3187.

Meditation on mint. As refreshing as a stick of gum on a long flight, as soothing as a hot toddy, the Moroccan Shai at Maximo's on Siesta Key is a thrice-boiled brew of fresh mint leaves and simple syrup over a teaspoon of sugar. Breathe in the aroma of mint, feel the heft and heat of the glass, drink in the chartreuse color, listen to your thoughts and sip slowly, indulgently. $6. Maximo's Restaurant, 149 Avenida Messina. (941) 346-7865.

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