“She’s the genius behind every cocktail that goes out of here,” Ralph Centalonza, owner of Cape Coral’s Sage on 47th, says about Brittany Bowman, Sage’s bar manager. You’ll spot Brittany lining up libations behind the expansive bar, her nonchalance belying how crucial she’s been to several Cape-defining dining institutions.
Her nearly two decades in the industry include time at the late Shannon Yate’s former Lush in the Cypress Lake neighborhood and opening the still-strong Nevermind with Shannon on the Cape before jumping across the street to Nice Guys in late 2017. She left in late 2022, citing burnout after Hurricane Ian, before signing on with Ralph earlier this year.
After years cutting her teeth and honing her craft, she’s proven to be a force in the Cape cocktail scene. “This guy can understand the language of what I’m trying to get through,” Brittany recalls thinking after her first meeting with Ralph. Her loyal clientele followed her from Nevermind to Sage on 47th, where the bar remains packed almost every night. “I don’t think I realized the number of people that were actually on my side with all of it,” she says.
Brittany’s an artist, exploring ingredients and building a portfolio that transforms flavors into masterpieces. She’s chronicled each drink in black Moleskine notebooks, dating back to her time at Nevermind. With most beverages, Brittany starts with a flavor, not a spirit, working backward from the base. Something like the five-spice powder she might stumble across at Fort Myers’ Leaf Asian Market gets her wheels turning: She may combine the spice with raw sugar and ripened bananas, cooking the mix down into a syrup she uses for a funky twist on an old fashioned (find the drink on Sage on 47th’s menu as the Mister Talley Man). “I get called a mad scientist all the time,” Brittany says. “It’s just because I’m wanting to take a chance.”