As mentioned in past articles, Broward County is experiencing a renaissance when it comes to dining options. While you can still munch away at patty melts at the numerous diners that are comparatively absent just south of County Line Road and throw back a Budweiser at one of countless dive bars, more sophisticated dining and drinking options have begun to sprout up rivaling those found in South Beach sans the sub-par service and huge price tags. SAIA, at the B Ocean Hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach, previously noted as a contender in Fort Lauderdale’s emerging fine dining scene for its impeccable interpretations of Asian-inspired seafood dishes and sushi (read review here), has just introduced a new cocktail menu this past weekend that is one of the most well thought-out and innovative that I’ve seen in quite some time - more on par with mixologists’ creations found in New York City than anything previously sipped in South Florida.
The Old’s Cool Collection, a play on old school, offered some of the more interesting cocktails inspired by Prohibition and pre-Prohibition era tipples and is a dream come true for any lover of gin. The bar staff makes it a point to illustrate how each drink uses a distinct gin from a small-batch distillery, many of which are locally-made in the United States. A Last Word, inspired by a prohibition era cocktail concocted in Detroit, consists of a well-balanced blend of Berkshire Mountain Distiller’s small batch Greylock gin, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, fresh lime juice, and Green Chartreuse; it offers a refreshing tartness with an herbal back note and a touch of body from the bitter almond in the Luxardo. SAIA’s take on the Negroni, a personal favorite of mine, substitutes Aperol for the traditional Campari, Punt e Mes for the more traditional sweet Vermouth, and pours the combination over a large ice sphere that prevents the cocktail from becoming too watered-down too soon. The gin used in their Negroni, Berkshire Mountain Distiller’s small batch Etheral gin, is much lighter on the juniper than a traditional London gin, which provides for a much less bitter shock to this Negroni than typically expected. A take on the Manhattan, called a Red Hook, offered a rich meatiness from the addition of Luxardo to rye whiskey and Dolin Vermouth Rouge, and the garnish of a brandied fresh cherry instead of the technicolor maraschino cherry was an elegant touch. Other drinks from this collection include a multifaceted take on a New Orleans classic, The Sazerac, as well as lighter and less cloyingly sweet rendition of a traditional Peruvian Pisco Sour.
The Smashed, Shaken, or Stirred Collection steers away from the more medicinal qualities of Prohibition era cocktails to the sweet and sour flavors that we cherish living in South Florida’s balmy weather. The Ginger’s Mule, consisting of Russian Standard Vodka, cracked ice, fresh house-made ginger soda, fresh orange, and simple syrup, offers a light and refreshing balance of orange and with light gingery bite that is less intense and sugary than ginger beer. A traditional Caipirinha - sometimes made either too sweet or too bitter from too much cheap Cachaça - was perfectly balanced and garnished with a sugar cane stick. The Tequila Thyme cocktail, which combines Camarena 100% Blue Agave Tequila, Fee Brothers Pineapple Syrup, fresh lime, thyme leaves, and fresh pineapple is probably one of the more interesting tequila cocktails I’ve sampled - very well-balance with a slight hint of thyme on a faintly sweet backdrop of pineapple. An excellent apertif in this collection is the Bella Italiana. Combining Amaretto, Luxardo Orange, Dolin Vermouth Blanc, Angostura, fresh lemon juice, and Prosecco, it offers a sweet and buttery beginning from the Amaretto, and then fades into an herbal finish that really whets one’s appetite.
The Pink Collection was created with The Ladies in mind and features three cocktails with rosy hues: Think Pink, Pink Cooler, and Staying Pink. All three are refreshing, slightly sweet, slightly tart, and perfect for a warm early evening staring off into the Atlantic Ocean. The Think Pink cocktail offers a floral note along with a bitterness reminiscent of grapefruit from a mélange of Southern Comfort, St. Germain liqueur, Campari, egg white, fresh lemon juice, Fee Brothers Orange Bitters, and Cremant de Rosé. In addition to SAIA’s exciting new cocktails, they continue to serve old favorites like the Hello Kitty and Scorpion Bowl, as well as a thoughtfully chosen selection of sakes and Japanese whiskeys.
999 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304