Chill out and beat the summer heat with these ultra-cool cocktails.
PINEAPPLE STIGGINS MOJITO
Place: Blasé Café, 5263 Ocean Blvd.
Inventor: Taylor Toelle, general manager and bar manager
Ingredients: Plantation Stiggins Fancy Pineapple Rum, roasted pineapple, mint, pineapple juice and soda water.
The what and why of it: This summertime twist on the classic mojito gets its mojo from Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum — made from real pineapples, naturally. To that, Bar Manager Taylor Toelle adds even more pineapple (both roasted and juiced), fresh muddled mint and soda water. Sound good? It is. And wait ’til you taste it. Toelle’s minty, fruity, modified mojito is a glass of pure liquid chill. Sip, savor, and get blasé. Get it for $10.
Place: Euphemia Haye’s Haye Loft, 5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key
Inventor: Sammy Lastinger, bar manager
Ingredients: Herradura Blanco Tequila; Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur; fresh-squeezed lemon juice; and blackberry, lemon and thyme-infused simple syrup.
The what and why of it: Euphemia Haye is famed for its formal fare, but the vibe gets laid-back at the Haye Loft upstairs. Think sizzling live jazz, a “lite” menu and a spectrum of creative craft cocktails. The remarkably refreshing Summer Breeze is our personal favorite. Unlike most summer drinks, it's neither too sweet nor too sour. The kick of the tequila is balanced with the intense, aromatic flavor of blood orange liqueur and fresh lemon. It’s as refreshing as a cool breeze on a summer night. Get it for $12.
Place: Sage, 1216 First St.
Inventor: Conner Bert, bar manager
Ingredients: Blue Sapphire Gin East, strawberry peppercorn Champagne shrub, lemon juice, rhubarb bitters and egg white.
The what and why of it: Gin is the perfect cure for the summertime blues. It’s light, it’s botanically based, and it mixes great with countless other beverages. Connor Bert, the brains behind the bar at Sage, selected Blue Sapphire Gin East to create his summer sipping special. He feels it’s superior to Bombay Original because it includes four more botanicals: grains of paradise, cubeb berries, Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black pepper. Bert’s Strawberry Fields concoction is a sous vide cordial made of strawberries sautéed with peppercorn then turned into a syrup and cut with Champagne vinegar. “It’s a light, crisp strawberry cocktail with a big, bright flavor,” he said. Get it for $14.
Place: Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie, 1917 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota
Inventor: Mike Madison, bar manager
Ingredients: WhistlePig Piggyback Rye, pineapple, ginger, simple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice, mint and Fever-Tree soda water.
The what and why of it: Smashes are cool, fruity cocktails designed to beat the summer heat. Their smashing mission? To refresh, restore and chill. These drinks are usually created with a spirit, a sweetener and seasonal fruits and herbs. Libby’s bar manager, Mike Madison, concocted a signature smash with quintessential Florida flavors — pineapple and lemon — enhanced with ginger and mint. The booze is WhistlePig Piggyback Rye, a slightly spicy, 100% rye made in Vermont. “The Piggyback Smash is not overly sweet like a typical tropical beverage,” Madison said. “It’s perfect for chilling out on our patio during the dog days of summer.” We’ll drink to that. Get it for $11.
Place: Hana Sushi Lounge, 8126 Main St., Lakewood Ranch
Inventors: Monica Bueneman, bar manager, and Jane Dokko, owner
Ingredients: Hangar One Buddha’s Hand Citron Vodka, yuzu juice, white cranberry juice, freshly muddled berries and butterfly pea extract.
The what and why of it: Hangar One’s Buddha’s Hand Citron Vodka comes to life in a former aircraft hangar in San Francisco. “It’s sweet and strongly aromatic — not your everyday vodka,” Owner Jane Dokko said. It’s created from the rind of the Buddha’s Hand, a citrus fruit grown in China that’s bizarrely shaped with claw-like “fingers.” Along with the citrusy flavor, you might also detect jasmine and apricot. If that’s not enough to fall in love with this cocktail, Bar Manager Monica Bueneman adds a splash of yuzu juice, which tastes grapefruity; white cranberry juice; and freshly muddled berries. A drop of butterfly pea extract creates the wow factor. This natural food coloring eventually turns the cocktail azure blue. Pure nirvana. Get it for $10.