Hot Bartenders and Cool Drinks
Forget what you know about cocktails. You’re on the Gulfshore now, where the sun-glittered tides come in and out with the times, and the drink menus do the same. We caught up with four area mixologists to get their take on what’s shaking up the bar scene this season, from fresh fruits to unexpected garnishes and an overall return to nature. Move aside, tired cosmopolitan—the bar has been raised.
Years bartending: three
His drink of choice: "Three Olives grape vodka with soda and a splash of cranberry."
The Gulfshore’s younger set prefers: "Anything with Red Bull is popular, whether it be tequila, Bacardi or vodka. And you can never go wrong with a dirty martini."
The bottom line in bartending: "It’s all about the right combination. If you use too much of one ingredient and not enough of another, it ruins the whole flavor. You have to make sure you know the recipe and make it right."
His scene: "I’m more of a sports bar kind of guy, but for a special occasion, I like a nice lounge—something sexy, sleek and upscale with a great ambiance."
3 parts Patrón Silver tequila
2 parts Grand Marnier
lime for garnish
Salt the rim of a chilled martini glass. Add ice, tequila, Grand Marnier and lime juice to a shaker and shake until icy cold. Pour into the martini glass and garnish with lime.
Why it’s hot: "It’s made with Patrón Silver, which is very popular nowadays. It’s in all the clubs. And as tequila goes, it tastes good, and it’s strong."
Blu Sushi, Fort Myers
Years bartending: four
The biggest trends in cocktails: "People are getting away from heavier liquors and getting into the lighter ones. They’re on a health kick right now, so we’re trying to make the drinks different and adding fresh fruits, like blueberry, mango, watermelon—anything goes."
On making it look good: "I’ve always believed that presentation is the key. Enjoying something isn’t just a taste or a smell. You have to use all five senses. It’s the whole experience that makes it great."
… even if it breaks tradition: "I may put a martini in a champagne flute if it looks
better that way."
Her mixing motto: "Keep working on it until it tastes good."
CoCo Pink Chanel Martini
3 parts Brinley Gold coconut rum
1 part X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
Rim a martini glass with strawberry glaze and add flaked coconut to the rim. In a shaker, combine rum, Fusion Liqueur, and splashes of pear and cranberry juices. Shake over ice, and strain into the martini glass.
Why it’s hot: "This one really is outrageous, and it has it all. It’s classy, high quality and pretty in pink with a great taste."
Aura Bar, Naples Grande Beach Resort
Years bartending: 24
His most frequent request: "I think the biggest drink is still the mojito. I use vodka instead of just rum, like Absolut Ruby Red or Absolut Mandrin. You can play a lot with them."
His favorite drinks to mix: "Rum drinks, like Rum Runners and Mai Tais."
A drink’s "wow" factor comes from: "Pretty much, it’s the garnishing. People know what they want to begin with, and if they ask you for something fancy, they’re going to want it to look interesting."
The mixing formula: "The ice, then the alcohol, then the juice."
He’s got flair: "I used to be able to flip the bottles. I can still pour five bottles at once."
3 parts Absolut Ruby Red vodka
2 parts Monin Pure Cane syrup
2 lime wedges
2 orange slices
Muddle lime wedges, orange slices, an ounce of Monin syrup and mint leaves in a glass. Add ice, vodka, lime juice and a swirl of soda water. Garnish with an orange slice.
Why it’s hot: "Using different kinds of fruit together makes a drink feel really fresh."