Food & Wine: Sarasota's Best

Photography by Kathryn Brass April 1, 2012

Best overall: the Lido Key Tiki Bar’s Mai Tai.With spring—and some of Sarasota’s most beautiful weather—upon us, we have visions of sitting poolside, cocktails in hand, dancing in our heads. So we decided to find the best tropical cocktails in Sarasota (we know, our jobs are awesome) and enlisted our 4,500-plus Facebook fans and the knowledgeable bartenders of Sling Bar Company, LLC, a Tampa-based cocktail and spirits consulting company, to help us. Sling’s bartenders—Ro Patel, Elise Ciungan and Andres Aleman—wowed us with their expertise, which is why we’re confident that we have, indeed, found the best tropical cocktails in town.

Best Overall: The Lido Key Tiki Bar’s My Oh! Mai Tai, a blend of pineapple juice, sour mix, and Mount Gay and Bacardi rums, plus an unexpected addition: bitters, which created even more depth of flavor. “I like that there’s a thought process behind this cocktail,” Patel said.

Best Creative Garnish: The watermelon ice cubes in The Ritz-Carlton’s Bayview Burger Bar’s Fruity 41. Instead of traditional water, this drink’s ice cubes are composed of frozen watermelon and vodka—an inspired touch. 

Most Potent: Without a doubt, the Bahi Hut’s Mai Tai. One sip of the signature drink had all the judges exclaiming “Whoa!”—we can see why there’s a two-drink limit on this popular cocktail. (And if you haven’t been to the more than 30-year-old Bahi Hut, you need to go. It’s an experience in and of itself.)

Best Classic Preparation: Roy’s Hawaiian martini—a blend of SKYY vodka, Stoli Vanilla Vodka and Malibu coconut rum, served with fresh pineapple. Exactly what you expect when you hear the words “tropical martini.”

Best Drink for Dessert: Tommy Bahama’s Bailey’s Banana Colada, which features not just one, but two Irish cream liqueurs, giving the drink a delicious, assertive flavor. “I’d order this in place of a more traditional dessert,” said Ciungan.

For a recipe for the Lido Key Tiki Bar’s My Oh! Mai Tai, go to our From the Editors blog.


“The signature Hawaiian martini at Roy’s—tropically delicious!” –Allison Ward Moore in response to our Facebook question about who makes the best tropical drink in town.

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