Cocktails in the Land of the Clowns
John Ringling developed Sarasota Florida into the winter home of the Greatest Show on Earth and also created a pretty spectacular waterfront and charming downtown area. While normally a bit too relaxed for the average traveler, this summer in Sarasota revealed that the craft cocktail business is alive and well and some rather interesting establishments are trying their hand at creativity.
Cask and Ale is a focal point on Main Street and appeals to a mixed crowd during the day and a millennial crowd in the evening. Creative cocktails abound as well as housing one of the largest Bourbon collections we have ever seen. Regulars can select a locker as their own and place purchased bottles of alcohol in them for future use. It was fun watching the mixologists slide along the ladder to grab various bottles to craft into some fun creations. Local beers are also a feature here rounding out a full complement of drinks to make any patron happy. One of the coolest features was the interactive televisions where you could tweet photos and be placed on "live" television as you visited the establishment.
Our next stop was the Alchemy Lab and access to this joint was down an alley and through a back door into a dark hall featuring street artist paintings. Normally being from NOLA, we would never walk down a dark alley to get into anywhere but since this was Sarasota, it was pretty certain we would not come to harm. Once inside, the bar was designed as a prohibition style, quaint speakeasy with LOTS of booze and mixing ingredients to augment any type of cocktail. The clientele was quite youthful and the bartenders spent some time impressing everyone with dramatic additions to the creative process including lighting glassware on fire for some of the drinks. We added a couple of our favorite drinks to our cocktail section on this site.
Of course nothing would be complete without a visit to Muse Restaurant at the Ringling itself. Muse is the museum restaurant and bar and serves as a bit calmer place than the aforementioned youthful bars and offers a beautiful view of the Ringling Property grounds. Wine was of course the obvious choice here to wind down a wonderful visit to one of the most spectacular estates in America. Fearers of clowns need not worry since they are safely tucked away down the road in the circus museums.
Cask and Ale
The Alchemy Lab
1564 Main Street
Muse at the Ringling
5401 Bayshore Road