Element Features Craft Cocktail Bar, Happy Hour Deals

The modern Mediterranean restaurant and bar will celebrate its one-year anniversary on Dec. 5

Despite downtown Sarasota being my local bar scene of choice since moving here two years ago to work at the Herald-Tribune, there still remain bars that I haven’t visited.

Take for instance Element, which opened last year at 1413 Main St. in the former location of nightclub Ivory Lounge. The restaurant describes itself as a “modern Mediterranean grill” and is part of American Dreams Restaurant Group, which also includes PBnT: Pizza Burgers N Tacos right next to Element and Duval’s Fresh. Local. Seafood. just a few doors down.

I hadn’t yet stopped into Element because I thought of it as more of an upscale dining spot, somewhere you’d take a significant other on a date or anniversary celebration than where you’d take friends for a happy hour drink. But it does indeed feature a craft cocktail bar and — to my surprise when I looked into it — a pretty solid happy hour.

With Element celebrating its one-year anniversary Wednesday, I figured now would be the perfect time to stop by this place that I’d walked by several times en route to another bar, but whose own bar I’d never visited.

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The atmosphere

I stop by on a Wednesday shortly after 4:30 p.m., when it opens and happy hour starts. Though the crowd is still relatively quiet before dinnertime, those who do drop in include two downtown Sarasota bartenders — always a good sign in my mind when you’ve picked a bartenders’ spot.

The actual bar features a sleek marble tabletop, lights hanging from the wall and jazz music playing in the background, providing a calm and chic feel. I could see this being an ideal spot for drinks discussing something you’ve just seen at the nearby Sarasota Opera House or Florida Studio Theatre.

Along with the bar and indoor dining area, Element features a covered outdoor patio with lounge furniture seating. Positioned right along Main Street, it’s easy to feel like you’re in the bustle of downtown Sarasota nightlife sitting there.

The drinks

Off Element’s crafted creations list, I order a Zombie Debutante ($15), made with Stolen Overproof Rum and 11-year-old Stolen Whiskey along with lime, egg white foam, bitter mist, cinnamon, grapefruit and rose syrup — which has a taste that’s striking without being too strong. The Smoked Corinthian Leather ($16) is smoked table-side, made with Angel’s Envy Bourbon, black walnut liqueur, Aperol and Peychaud’s Barrel-Aged Bitters.

Element has a happy hour that runs 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the bar, with a selection of classic cocktails for $7 including a Manhattan, Old-Fashioned and Garden Gimlet. I go with a French 75, the cocktail made here with gin, prosecco, lemon and simple syrup, with a light taste and urbane style that fits the bar’s atmosphere.

Falling somewhere in between the crafted creations and these classic cocktails is a collection of twists on traditional cocktails. Those include an Apricot Aperol Spritz and “Bold Fashioned” made with High West Double Rye.

The bar also has a lengthy wine menu, and though it currently doesn’t offer draft beer, it has a solid selection of bottles and cans with some local options including Sarasota’s JDub’s or Bradenton’s Motorworks.

The food

Element’s happy hour deals also extend to its food, with $3 off upscale bar bites.

I order the cheese platter ($18), a chef’s selection of cheeses that featured smoked gouda and gorgonzola as well as fresh, grilled bread and fruit. You can also get a charcuterie platter for $18, along with grilled octopus tacos ($15), a burger with fried egg and bacon on a brioche bun ($14) and more.

And of course, you can always follow up drinks with dinner. Element’s menu features a variety of Mediterranean dishes such as whole roasted branzino and prosciutto swordfish, as well as a selection of steak and chops.

But I’m most interested in revisiting Element to try another one of its signature craft cocktails or to take advantage of its happy hour.

Written by Jimmy Geurts, Nov 28, 2018

Abby Hincker