Louies Modern Cocktail
Louies Modern Cocktail

Sarasota Sips: A Guide to Craft Cocktails

Feeling thirsty? Sarasota's craft cocktail scene packs a flavorful, potent punch. Check out our guide to craft spirits in Sarasota County—where there's an apéritif for every appetite!

Sarasota's Newer Mixologists on the Block:

Brick's Smoked Meats can be found on downtown Sarasota's up-and-coming State Street, an area known for its fine dining, nightlife and crafty sips. Brick's features classics that pair beautifully with its Texas-style smoked meats menu, like the Smoked Manhattan.

Boca Kitchen Bar & Market, a locally-sourced eatery and cocktail joint with Tampa roots, has a few popular cocktail highlights including Boca's classic Bramble, as well as signature hits like the Fine and Shandy (Old Forester bourbon, Cherry Heering liqueur, lemon, orange, Tampa-brewed Big Storm Arcus IPA, and sugar) and the Garden Grove (El Jimador reposado, Yellow Chartreuse liqueur, lime, sugar, Peychaud’s bitters, cucumber, and basil).

Element: Steak. Seafood. Pasta. offers an adventurous arrangement that complements its bold entrees, small plates and steaks. Try the Smoked Corinthean Leather, a blend of top shelf bourbon, Aperol and walnut liqueur smoked tableside in a smoke box. Lighter palates will enjoy the Spa Day, a mix of Tito’s vodka, lemon and aloe liqueur topped with prosecco and a cucumber ice cube.

The Roof Bar & Eats at the Westin Sarasota offers airy rooftop sips in a casual, elegant atmosphere overlooking all of downtown Sarasota, the bay, and beyond. Try a signature Rosemary Pineapple Margarita at Sarasota's freshest rooftop bar while admiring breathtaking views of downtown Sarasota's booming Rosemary District to the immediate northeast.

WXYZ Bar at Aloft Sarasota is another chic cocktail spot conveniently located right inside a downtown hotel. Fans of things fruity and fizzy should taste the Year of the Dragon, a combination of Ciroc Peach, lemon, muddled strawberry, simple syrup, and club soda.

"Old Fashioned" Favorites: Sarasota's Craft Cocktail Standards

Located in the Sarasota's Ritz Carlton, Jack Dusty boasts hearty craft cocktail chops with a seasonal menu so extensive it sometimes needs a table of contents (seriously). Their experts are constantly pushing the envelope with new creations that will dazzle your tastebuds and social media followers when you share a pic. But the favorite by far is The Siren—a whopping and refreshing blend of Reyka vodka or Hendricks gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon, simple, prosecco and a combination of grapefruit, cranberry and orchid ices! This is a drink meant to be sipped for an entire evening because there’s even a limit of two per guest.

Cocktail critics will love Libby's Cafe and Bar's Barista (St. George NOLA coffee liqueur, creme de cacao, espresso, and Absolut Vodka, topped with ground cinnamon “dust”)—one of its most popular signature drinks. Meanwhile, the LCB Signature Old Fashioned puts a vanilla, apricot and chocolate bitters-y twist on the classic cocktail—featuring brown butter-infused Larceny Bourbon.

Michael's on East is best known for its award-winning wine cellar, but don't miss out on the masterful cocktails in Michael's Piano Bar and Lounge. Check in with Michael's Facebook page to learn the word of the week, and speak easy to lounge mixologists for access to happy hour specials during Michael's "Secret Word Mondays."

Café Gabbiano boasts another extensive drink menu with Italian favorites like the Bellini and Limoncello Martini, but also a fun twist on local favorites like the Italian Margherita—Sauza Silver tequila, amaretto and lime juice shaken over ice. Wine lovers will rejoice over Gabbiano’s wine list featuring bottles the restaurant produces themselves! Brag to your buddies about the exclusive Italian wine you enjoyed on world famous Siesta Key.

Selva Grill features a modern and cosmopolitan Peruvian fusion menu complemented by exemplary cocktails. For the full Peruvian experience, try the Pisco Chicha Morada, a South American classic made from with purple corn, lemon and lime juice, pineapple and a cinnamon stick.

Shore Restaurant, located on St. Armands Circle and North Longboat Key, consistently ranks among the best boozy brunches in Sarasota thanks to its cocktail selection that sips like a good morning wakeup call—even in the early afternoon! Wake up with a refreshing pomegranate mimosa—or start your Sunday with a spicy kick from the bird's eye-chili, lemongrass and cilantro infused Thai One gin cocktail.

At Mélange, sparkling cocktails complement Chef Lan's culinary creations. Read more below to learn about Pangea Alchemy Lab, where Mélange's cocktails are crafted—but in the meantime, check out the sparkling wine-centric cocktails designed to accompany the uniquely delightful Mélange menu.

Pangea Alchemy Lab is a local leader in Sarasota's craft cocktail scene. Try the Sir Sazerac for Pangea's twist on the time-honored, absinthe-washed New Orleans classic, or ask Pangea's masterclass mixologists to whip up a one-of-a-kind tonic from the bar's extensive drink menu.

Like Pangea, State Street Eating House + Cocktails ranks among the most notable cornerstones of Sarasota's craft cocktail community. State Street's extensive craft cocktail menu features an array expertly executed classics.

Sips Down South: Venice and Englewood Cocktails

Although better known for its wines, Café Venice Restaurant & Bar also knows its way around a refreshing cocktail. Try the Lemon Basil Vodka Martini, made with Deep Eddy's Lemon Vodka and housemade basil syrup and garnished with a twist of lemon, fresh basil leaf, and a dry basil-sugar rim.

Crow's Nest, a Venice landmark since 1976, has more than 40 years experience in offering up some of the finest Rum Runners in town—as well as an ever-changing cocktail menu that features hits like the Ginberry Martini—Hendrick's Gin, cucumber-infused vodka, St. Germain elderberry liqueur and muddled strawberries.

Englewood's Farlow's on the Water leans into the flavors of the Caribbean in its robust cocktail menu, featuring a wide selection of fruity frozen drinks, colorful martinis, tropical dessert cocktails, and popular island favorites like Bahama Mamas, Mojitos, Dark 'N' Stormys, and Rum Runners.

On the first take, Fins at Sharky's on the Pier may sound like a casual beach dive—until you take a closer look at the cocktail menu. Located next door to its longstanding local, tiki-style sister restaurant, Sharky's On the Pier, Fins offers elegant, locally sourced cuisine and drinks in a contemporary coastal chic atmosphere. The seaside sipping options are aplenty—ranging from sophisticated sippers like 15-Year Glen Scotia, to beachy boozers like the Seafoam Margarita—a colorful tequila cocktail topped with lime foam.

In the Mixed: Drinks That Defy Categorization

The Mai Tai at Bahi Hut (a north Tamiami Trail tiki dive landmark since 1956) holds multi-generational 'local legend' status. Even popular Florida fiction writer, Tim Dorsey, claims his iconic 'Florida Man' character, Serge Storms, would knock one back at Bahi Hut—or maybe two, but certainly no more: the bar enforces a strict two-drink maximum limit on its potent Mai Tai. Is knocking back that second Mai Tai an important Sarasota 'rite of passage' or a truly regrettable decision? All we can say is that this cocktail packs one powerful punch, so be sure to scout your designated driver early in the night.

The Hail Mary Bloody Mary, served exclusively during Sunday Gospel Brunch at the Blue Rooster, has been known to inspire a "hallelujah" from the taste buds. Try one on Sundays, or stop by after 5:00 p.m. for a selection of southern-style cocktails like Mint Juleps and Cajun Lemonade.

Ever stared deep into the questionable bowl on the refreshments table at a high school dance and wondered what "punch" really is? The signature Pub Punch at Venice's British Open Pub is a modern spin on a beverage invented by the 17th century sailors of Britain's East India Company. Tired of drinking warm, rancid beer that traveled poorly across the Atlantic in ships' cargo holds, the sailors created punch when they came ashore, using new ingredients of citrus, spices and rum they colonized. The British Open Pub makes its signature punch from a proprietary mix of fruit juices and spices, rums, vodka, and a modern-day splash of Sprite. 

No ode to cocktails is complete without a hat tip to The Gator Club, a historic landmark in downtown Sarasota rumored to have served as a speakeasy during the Prohibition era. The upstairs billiards hall and lounge retains a 1920s vibe: excellent vintage ambiance, with a variety of cocktails to match.

Grab a couple friends and head to Siesta Key Village to indulge in Siesta Key Oyster Bar's famous Village Idiot bucket. This powerful, fruity secret-recipe rum elixir is made for sharing: SKOB requires a three-person minimum just to order its famous drink!

Drink Responsibly in Sarasota

With dozens of restaurant, bar and tasting room options from which to choose, Sarasota's craft cocktail scene provides plenty of opportunities to treat your taste buds—and it packs a powerful punch.

Remember to always plan ahead on boozy outings in Sarasota! Choose a designated sober friend to drive before everyone starts sipping, arrange for an Uber or Lyft, or don't be shy about asking your bartender to call a taxi!