Most people love a great handmade cocktail. At least most of the people I know. And if you’ve been reading Sarasota Bites from the start, you know that we’ve written about the topic a couple of times. From a refreshing Tommy Bahama summer cocktail creation to adventures on the Bourbon Trail. There’s a theme developing, so why stop now?
You’re going to need to grab a pencil and paper or the high-tech note taking device of your choice. I’ll wait… Ready? Ok, here you go. For the "when" mark down October 8th through the 15th. Now for the "what". It’s time for the 2021 version of Set the Bar Cocktail Week. That's right, a full week of cocktail related events await you!
This mixological extravaganza is the work of the Sarasota-Manatee Originals. Yes, the very same group of independent restaurants that brought you The Blend and each year stages that super popular taste-a-thon known as Forks & Corks. Seems like The Originals know how to put food, drinks, and people together!
Let’s start off by being clear about one thing. This is a celebration of cocktail creativity. Set The Bar is bringing together some of the best cocktail chemists that Sarasota has to offer, and, asking them to pit their best creation against that of their peers. It’s all in good fun. But there are some lofty bragging rights involved. Wouldn’t you like to say that you made the best bourbon drink in Sarasota? I know I would!
The week-long event has a few distinct parts.
Part One. All week participating Set the Bar restaurants will be offering drink specials along with food and beverage pairings.
Part Two. On Tuesday, October 12th a special edition of The Blend will take place featuring a number of downtown restaurants. Sipping, strolling, and of course, eating will be the order of the evening. I’ve given you a link for tickets at the end of this piece. Hopefully, there will still be a few available.
Part Three. This is where the tequila actually meets the ice! The Set The Bar Cocktail Competition! This final event of the week is going to be held at Ed Smith Stadium on Friday, October 15th from 6:30pm to 9:30pm.
The actual competition is divided into categories by the type of liquor used to create the signature drink. Here they are. Gin, tequila, vodka, whiskey, and rum. The entries will be judged by a panel of judges and YOU. How do you judge cocktails? I'm sure you have all the skills required already. But here are the official criteria. Flavor, appearance, bartender presentation, and imagination.
Are you wondering which area restaurants will be competing? Here’s a list of the entrants and their categories.
That is quite a lineup by any measure! So many fantastic Sarasota (and Manatee) restaurants will be participating. Oh, just FYI, food will also be served. You didn’t think that The Originals would hold an event and not serve food, did you??
So, as we usually do at the end of these posts, let’s recap. If you like refreshing, specialty handmade cocktails you’re in luck. October 8th -15th is Set the Bar Cocktail Week here in Sarasota. You can choose from cocktail related events, like a walking, eating, and drinking tour of Downtown Sarasota, OR the big finale, the cocktail competition. It’s up to you. Mix and match or do the whole thing! Just remember to sample responsibly.
Oh, and one more note. Proceeds from the cocktail competition will benefit Embracing Our Differences, whose mission is to use the transformative power of the arts to educate and inspire a better world.
As promised, here are some links to things we think you might find useful.