Despite rumors to the contrary, local nightlife doesn’t shut down when the sun goes down. (Heck, a few keep the lights on until midnight!)
We’ve come up with a quick, but hardly complete, list of places that offer after-dinner drinks, a game of trivia, live music or a late-night nosh.
They come in all flavors: swanky, funky, retro, raucous, elegant. Most are on the keys — with a few mainland spots thrown in for variety.
The Haye Loft at Euphemia Haye
5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. 941-383-3633. EuphemiaHaye.com. Open 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 5-9 p.m. Sundays.
Euphemia Haye is in a league of its own. This award-winning restaurant is celebrated for its intimate, romantic ambiance (in a charming historic cottage), a top-shelf wine and spirits selection and chef-driven cuisine.
That’s what you’ll find on the first floor — but there’s more to come upstairs. For a more relaxed vibe, the second floor Haye Loft offers tempting light bites (the smoked salmon on buckwheat crêpes, garnished with caviar and sour cream is a delicious late-night snack), dazzling desserts, a dynamic bar scene and the soft sounds of jazz in the background.
If you go for a return visit, the bartender will not only remember your name — but also what your favorite sip is. This sweet spot is perfect for a first date or to celebrate that special someone.
Bartender Jhon Zamora
Jhon Zamora, 33, started working at Euphemia Haye eight years ago; today he’s delighted to serve as one of the Haye Loft’s newest bartenders.
Who taught him his magic? Zamora says he was trained by the best in the business — Eric Bell and Sammy Lastinger, Euphemia’s superstar bar managers. “Watching the easy way they’d entertain and connect with customers was an eye-opener. They inspired me to become a bartender.”
The secret of being a great bartender? “Keeping calm,” he laughs. “Most of all, it’s about keeping people happy and giving them the opportunity to create memories.”
Best seat in the house? “Right in front of me at the bar!”
The Bahi Hut
4675 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 941-355-5141. BahiHut.com. Open noon to midnight daily.
Feel like a voyage to the South Pacific of the mind? The Bahi Hut, on Sarasota’s North Trail, will take you there.
It was founded in 1954 as part of the Golden Host Resort, right next door. Today, it’s one of Florida’s oldest Tiki bars.
Inside, it’s a place of fantasy and escape, replete with teak walls, Polynesian masks, Tiki sculpture and abundant rattan and bamboo. Most nights there’s something going on — from Drag Queen Bingo to live music to trivia.
But for Sarasota’s Tiki aficionados, just being here is a blast. They love the Bahi Hut’s midcentury Tiki vibe, and they’ve made it their de facto clubhouse.
The new owner, Parth Shaha, has updated some of the bar’s elements while carefully respecting its Tiki heritage. For him, it’s a sign of respect for its Tiki fanbase. (And check out his astonishing midcentury renovation of the adjacent Golden Host.)
But let’s not forget that this is, above all, a cocktail lounge. Crowd-pleasers include the Sneaky Tiki (a passion fruit-inspired drink that comes in its own mug) and the Bahia Aloha (the Hut’s take on a piña colada). The Bahi Hut’s signature concoction, the mighty Mai-Tai, has enough rum to keep a pirate happy. Think of it as tasty rocket fuel and respect the two-drink maximum. According to Grace Carlson, a former Bahi bartender, it dissolves inhibitions like paint thinner cutting through watercolors.
“Back in the 1980s, we used to call it Quaaludes in a glass,” she laughs. “It was super strong — like moonshine. It used to make customers especially amorous, but the Golden Host is right next door. Isn’t that convenient?”
Shaha notes that the Bahi’s secret Mai-Tai recipe has been reverently passed from owner to owner. After he became the owner, he restored the recipe to its original taste.
“Only my wife and I are aware of this recipe now,” he says.
Would he share it with us?
No, he wouldn’t.
Bartender Tory Davis
Tory Davis, 29, was a stay-at-home mother who wanted to get out of the house and make a few bucks on the side. Working at the Bahi Hut was her natural choice. Why? She combines previous bartending experience with “years of practice as a devoted Bahi Hut patron.” On top of that, it’s just a short drive from her home. Here’s what she shared about her mixologist magic.
How do you get all the drinks right? Just practice and muscle memory, really. For the most part, when people come into a traditional Tiki bar, they know the drinks are quite involved. A dash of this, a half-ounce of that, three different kinds of rum, liquors, juices — it’s a lot to put together correctly. I’ve found that people are willing to be patient for a delicious drink.
Secret sauce to being a great bartender? I just come in wanting to have as good a time as I can. Typically, our customers are the same. My focus is on how they feel when they’re leaving. If they’re happy and a bit buzzed, I did a good job.
Best seat in the house? Depends on the person and what kind of night you want to have. For me, it’s at the high top in the back corner. There’s a lot of history and people-watching there.
Favorite type of customer? A fellow follower of the Tiki scene. I love to talk about everything in this cool little subculture.
Least favorite? Nobody likes a mean-spirited person, but the ones who push a bad attitude on other customers are definitely my least favorite. You can be mean to me. I can handle that, but don’t ruin someone else’s good time.
Words of wisdom for Key Life readers? Bahi Hut isn’t just a great place for a drink. What really makes it special is the sense of escapism we offer. The whole purpose of Atomic Age Tiki is giving you the freedom to close your eyes, sip a tropical drink, and liberate yourself to more exotic sands. Bahi Hut can give you that experience, and it’s absolutely worth it.
Blasé Café & Martini Bar and 3.14 Pi
5263 Ocean Blvd., Sarasota. 941-349-9822. BlasePiSiesta.com. Blasé: Open 5-11 p.m. daily. 3.14 Pi Pizza: Open 2-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; noon-2 a.m. Thursday-Sunday.
Artsy. Eclectic. Romantic. Relaxed. Such have been the default adjectives for the Blasé Martini Bar.
It’s tucked away in a plaza just around the corner from bustling Siesta Key Village. For years, it was the go-to spot for locals escaping the tourist hustle. Cynthia Breslin, the pub’s beloved original owner, electrified the place with her mojo beginning in 1997. It shined under her care, with craft cocktails and a creative menu that offered up seasonally inspired fare. When Breslin died in 2021, leadership passed on to a new team.
They simplified the menu but didn’t phase out the funk. You can still enjoy creatively crafted martinis and other signature drinks, including the Dark and Stormy (rum and ginger beer), the Siesta Killer (Siesta Key toasted coconut rum mixed with pineapple and orange juices and real cream of coconut), and The Fukleberry (Fuklehead bourbon, elderberry moonshine and lime juice).
Aside from booze, Blasé’s menu offers up wings, pizza, burgers and subs. 3.14 Pi, Blasé’s sister pub, is right next door. Here, the joint is jumping with live music on most nights; you can also fill up on pizza, handhelds, salads and shareables — not to mention rotating craft beer choices. The two most popular are the locally brewed Motorworks V-Twin Lager and Big Top Hazy Sky Wire IPA.
Top 4 Martinis at Blasé
Espresso Martini: Dance all night powered with Stoli Vanilla Irish Cream, coffee liqueur, and fresh espresso.
Mango Tango: Get in an island mood with Stoli Crushed Mango, agave, muddled jalapeno and mango puree.
Siesta Joy: Joyfully filled with Siesta Key Coconut Rum, amaretto, crème de cacao, half and half and garnished with chocolate and coconut flakes.
Peanut Butter Cup: As screwed up as it sounds, yes you can have your whiskey and peanut butter, too. It’s made with — what else — Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey, crème de cacao, peanut butter, half and half, and chocolate syrup.
Siesta Key Oyster Bar
5238 Ocean Blvd., Sarasota. 941-346-5443; SKOB.com. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays.
SKOB is a hopping and happening hangout with colorful drinks, live music and a beachy vibe. Get out of your shell and give in to spending a few hours enjoying frozen daiquiris, rum sliders, piña coladas, cold brews, and a fabulous raw bar with all the oysters and clams you can eat. It’s pet-friendly — and people-friendly, too.
Siesta Key Oyster Bar signature drink: Village Idiot Bucket. What’s in it? Who knows? SKOB calls it a cure-all. Keep the souvenir bucket!
You can dance till 2 a.m. every night at Beach Club on Siesta Key. What’s your desire? There’s live music, local DJs, a hopping dance floor, pool tables — and savvy bartenders to keep it grooving all night long.
Gilligan’s Island Bar
5253 Ocean Blvd., Sarasota. 941-346-8122. GilligansIslandBar.com. Open 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays through Tuesdays; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesdays through Fridays.
Looking for a nonstop party? You’ve found it here. With its vast dance floor and rotating selection of local DJs and live bands, you can stay moving to the beat all though the night. Or sit back with a cold one at the Tiki bar and drink it all in.
Gilligan’s signature drink: The Classic Painkiller. Mount Gay Rum, OJ, pineapple and cream of coconut, sprinkled with nutmeg.
Cha Cha Coconuts
417 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota.941-388-3300. Chacha-Coconuts.com. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Even if you’re not on vacation, you’ll feel like it at Cha Cha Coconuts, a landmark St. Armands Circle watering hole with a casual, colorful vibe inside and plenty of sidewalk seating. Floribbean fare, an impressive offering of tropical cocktails, live music, people-watching from your sweet sidewalk perch — what else do you need for a lively eve?
Cha Cha Coconuts signature drink: Cha Cha Coconuts. Coco Lopez, guava nectar, pineapple juice, Bacardi Black Rum and grenadine.
1255 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota; 316-0808; ArtOvationHotel.com. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Art Ovation Hotel’s Perspective Rooftop Pool Bar gives night owls an uplifting experience. Here, you can sip ’neath the twinkling stars above while drinking in the city lights below.
Perspective signature drink: From this high up, overlooking John Ringling’s former empire, it seems only right to go with The Ringling, made with Plantation 3 Star Rum, lime juice, simple syrup, and absinthe.
The Gator Club
1490 Main St., Sarasota. 941-366-5969. TheGatorClub.com. Open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays.
This joint is jumping with a high-energy dance floor, live music every night and tunes by Worth Block, Sarasota’s superstar DJ. The vintage 1912 brick building makes this a true slice of Old Florida.
Gator Club signature drink: The Rosemary Pineapple Margarita. Rosemary simple syrup, pineapple juice, Silver Tequila and Grand Mariner.