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Drink like a local: Best cocktails on Sanibel and Captiva

By Staff | Jul 12, 2017

Island Mojito Photo by Ashley Goodman

Although both Sanibel and Captiva are known for their picturesque Gulf views and shell-filled beaches, the islands are also foodie paradise. Below are the top-selling drinks at a few of our local restaurants.

Doc Ford’s

Doc Ford’s No.1 selling drink is its Island Mojito which is concocted with fresh mint, limes, homemade simply syrup, Caribbean gold rum and club soda. Kim McGonnell, general manager of Doc Ford’s, said that the Island Mojito has been on the menu for the past 13 years.

“It’s been a staple since day one,” McGonnell said. “Usually in the morning they prep around 75 mojitos and then when the second bartender comes in they’re prepping about another 50 for the day. If we muddled to order you’d never get your drink because we go through so many of them.”

The mojito is also available in mango, pineapple, watermelon, coco-nut and passion fruit. The traditional Island Mojito is $6.95 while the other flavors are $7.25. However, the watermelon mojito, which benefits the Golisano Children’s Hospital is $7.95.

Captiva Cooler Photo by Ashley Goodman

“It should be the drink that kicks off your vacation,” McGonnell said. (2500 Island Inn Road, Sanibel; (239) 472-8311; docfords.com)

The Bubble Room

The Captiva Cooler ($10) takes the crown for the most popular drink at the eccentric Bubble Room on Captiva which has been around since 1979. The Captiva Cooler is comprised of three rums: pineapple, mango and coconut. The drink is then topped with pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine.

“It’s our No. 1 selling drink by far,” said Steve Vonhof, a bartender at the Bubble Room.

On a busy day, the restaurant can sell as many as 100 of them. (15001 Captiva Drive, Captiva; (239) 472-5558; bubbleroomrestaurant.com)

The Smoke Gets in Your Rye Manhattan Photo by Ashley Goodman

Sweet Melissa’s Cafe

At Sweet Melissa’s Cafe, a classic Manhattan never goes out of style. Bartender Kevin O’ Malley credits its popularity because “you can’t get it anywhere else.”

“It’s something unique. People from last year who have had it want it again,” O’Malley said.

The Smoke Gets in Your Rye Manhattan ($14) is made with house smoke Bulleit rye whisky, sweet vermouth and Peychaud bitters. The drink is then finished with a cherry king-sized ice cube. (1625 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel; (239) 472-1956; sweetmelissascafe.com)

The Crow’s Nest

High Tide Margarita Photo by Ashley Goodman

The Crow’s Nest has been a popular spot at ‘Tween Waters Inn on Captiva for over three decades. Bartender Zina Villano said during the summer, the High Tide Margarita ($10) is one of its best-sellers.

“The color reflects the Captiva water,” Villano said.

The High Tide Margarita is made with tequila, blue curacao, simple syrup, sweet and sour and fresh lime. Reminiscent of the classic “fish bowl,” the drink is topped with Swedish fish candies.

“If someone is arriving from the Midwest, this is the first drink we recommend. It makes you feel like you’re on vacation,” Villano said. (15951 Captiva Drive, Captiva; (239) 472-5161; crowsnest-captiva.com)

Thistle Lodge

Pineapple Cosmopolitan Photo by Sean Ramsey

For a beautiful setting and breathtaking Gulf views, look no further than the historic Thistle Lodge. General Manager Sean Ramsey said that its most popular drink lately is the Pineapple Cosmopoli-tan ($13), which is made with aged pineapple infused Smirnoff vodka, cranberry juice and fresh lime juice.

“What we do is we take Smirnoff vodka and then we put pineapple in it for a couple of weeks and let it marinate so that way, you get a nice pineapple garnish on there. It’s a little bit of a twist and it gives it that Sanibel Island flavor,” Ramsey said. (2255 West Gulf Drive, Sanibel; (239) 472-9200; casaybelresort.com)