Visions of fall promise piles of red and copper leaves waiting to be jumped in, crisp cool evenings and warm sweaters pulled from their resting place under the bed — yeah, right!
In Sarasota, fall tends to feel more like a continuation of summer. But for those who are missing the change in seasons and fireside spiced cocktails, there’s still some local spice to look forward to — and we’re not talking pumpkin and nutmeg. According to recent spirits trends, this season is for those looking for adventurous cocktails. This season’s libations are full of habañero, chili and jalapeño. Sarasota’s fall happy hours will surely offer a “kick” in the glass!
Location: Darwin’s on 4th, 1525 Fourth St., Sarasota
Info: Call 343-2165 or visit darwinson4th.com.
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday; 5 to 11 p.m. Wednesday; 5 to 11:30 p.m. Thursday; 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Happy Hour is 5 to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Ingredients: Hangar 1 Chipotle Chili Vodka, Absolut Peppar Vodka, Fruit de Pas’ion and a pinch of cilantro
Taste description: The Fruita’ Picante’ is shaken, chilled and served in a martini glass. It offers the fall colors Sarasota lacks. It’s made with passion fruit puree, and its medium-bodied, smooth texture accentuates the subtle spicy quality of the liqueur. Although it smells peppery, it is not overbearing in “kick.” What you get is a smoked-fruit flavor with a peppery aftertaste. It’ll have you booking a trip to Santa Fe, N.M., before you finish the drink.
Best paired with: Oven-roasted pork taco; $6
Spicy Mexican Margarita
Location: Michael’s On East, 1212 East Ave. S., Sarasota
Info: Call 366-0007 or visit Bestfood.com
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Happy Hour is 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Ingredients: El Mayor Silver, Monin habañero-flavored syrup, Cointreau and cucumber
Taste description: This refreshing margarita is served on the rocks with a salted rim. But don’t expect any sour in this drink, because it’s more mojito-like with a smooth quality and color. This popular drink is perfect for the Indian summer days during the fall months on the Gulf Coast. Its cool cucumber balances the habañero syrup, which gives it a sweet light flavor with just a hint of spice. This luxurious margarita brings pleasant thoughts of afternoons lounging poolside — while friends up North slave away raking leaves.
Best paired with: The East Avenue tapas; $12
Location: The Table Creekside, 5365 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
Info: Call 921-9465 or visit tablesrq.com.
Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 4 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Ingredients: Wódka (vodka), simple syrup, cilantro, jalapeño and grapefruit juice
Taste description: This drink is a bartender favorite and perfect for those who revel in the taste of cilantro. Smooth vodka and grapefruit juice are added to house-prepared, simple syrup muddled with cilantro and jalapeño. This cocktail has a big cilantro smell and a predominantly cilantro flavor with plenty of spice and subtle notes of grapefruit. It’s a great pick to unwind after a warm day lounging at the beach.
Best paired with: Crispy oyster flamenco; $8.95
Price: $10 ($6 during happy hour)
Location: Libby’s Café + Bar, 1917 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota
Info: Call 487-7300 or visit libbyscafebar.com.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch Monday through Friday; 6 to 10 p.m. for dinner Monday through Thursday; 5:30 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Happy Hour is 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Ingredients: Three Olives vodka, grated jalapeno, olive juice and blue-cheese stuffed olives
Taste description: Plain Jane would order this drink if she wanted to be more like Dirty Harry — it’ll put some hair on your chest. This martini is popular among adventurous souls ready to dive into a full olive-and-jalapeño flavor. The olive dulls the alcohol taste of a typical vodka martini, but its flavor is far from normal. The blue-cheese stuffed olives slightly dull the spice, but if you can’t handle heat, this drink is not for you.
Best paired with: Kogi truck mussel pot; $11
Pineapple and Jalapeño Mojito
Location: Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Café, 300 John Ringling Blvd., St. Armands Circle.
Info: Call 388-2888 or visit TommyBahama.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Happy Hour is 4 to 6 p.m. daily.
Ingredients: Depaz cane syrup, pineapple cubes, mint, jalapeño, pineapple juice, lime juice and rum
Taste Description: This drink tastes like how one would imagine breaking the law feels and — luckily — double jeopardy allows you to have more than one. Fresh pineapple, mint and jalapeño are muddled with rum and a splash of pineapple juice; lime juice is added to the top. The libation is a perfect balance of the strongest flavors — mint and jalapeño. But the fruity pineapple takes out some of the sting and replaces it with a little tang. This cocktail has got a big kick, so if you don’t want to risk it, have them make it sans the jalapeño.
Best paired with: Big island goat cheese appetizer; $12