Ticket Sarasota

Bar Tab: Café Epicure stays classic

By Abby Weingarten , Herald-Tribune

The Main Street and Palm Avenue corner may have some fresh faces, but the veteran Café Epicure continues to be as one of downtown’s best bars for cool martinis and hot stilettos.

All summer long, the 13-year-old hotspot with its adjacent 4-year-old martini bar is hosting “Le Donne Della Notte” (ladies’ night) from 6 p.m. until closing, with cocktails, wines and beers at half price. The same deal applies to the daily happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m., and this two-hour block also features complimentary small plates at the bar. When a $10 gourmet martini becomes $5, with free food to boot, flocking is a no-brainer.

“We have always focused on the quality of the food, the drinks and the experience here,” says owner Giovanni Migliorini, who hails from Genoa, Italy. “Food is such a big part of our culture, and people who have been to Italy say it’s just like what they experienced there.”

That experience includes slow sips, rich bites and free-flowing conversation, and Migliorini’s team keeps the ambiance conducive to this European ritual. The mixologists are as stunning as the libations they concoct, such as the grapefruit, clementine, cucumber, apple, watermelon, raspberry, cucumber and strawberry-basil martinis.

Favorite long drink cocktails are the Grapes Fall with lychee liqueur, the Spicy Bangcok with mango-cinnamon infused rum, and the Frisky Bison with fresh lemon and mint. Menu-wise, the prosciutto with melon, beef carpaccio with arugula and Parmesan cheese, and white four-cheese pizzas lead up to gelato and cannoli desserts.

On Mondays and Tuesdays at all hours, 100 wines priced at $100 or less are 50 percent off, including selections from Tuscany, Sicily, Abruzzi, Lombardy, Veneto, Trentino, Puglia, Lazio, Campania, Piedmont, Sardinia, the United States and Chile. Later this month, Epicure will roll out a new charcuterie bar with hanging meats and imported cheeses, available for perusing in the restaurant room.

Sometimes, in the middle of the new bar whirlwind, you need to revisit the pioneers. You can taste the longevity in the long drink cocktails.