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Bar Tab: Jack Dusty at the Ritz-Carlton

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Ingi w Jack Rose CROP

Head bartender Ingi Sigurdsson for Jack Dusty at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota explains what goes into his version of the classic cocktail Jack Rose, which was originally popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Also, to the left, check out the tasty, homemade loaf of bread that comes out of a can. STAFF PHOTO/WADE TATANGELO

We have a special relationship with Jack Dusty, the waterfront restaurant and bar at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Sarasota, and you should, too. I know. I know. As soon as I start gushing about its new $21 cocktail, half of you will roll your eyes, shake your head and start writing a snarky comment but wait, wait, wait! Jack Dusty also serves, for instance, a satisfying portion of homemade pork rinds with a mug of Pabst Blue Ribbon for – get this – a measly five bucks! And for all you craft beer geeks, Jack Dusty also proudly serves Cigar City Brewing selections for six bucks.

See, something for everyone, right?

First Look: $21 Smoking Jacket cocktail at Jack Dusty

Pork Rinds w PBR close

Jack's Tar Apple (from left) with homemade pork rinds, hot sauce, mug of Pabst Blue Ribbon and house cut chips. STAFF PHOTO/WADE TATANGELO

To be honest, my amazing wife Kristin and I didn’t always love Jack Dusty. In fact, we initially were pretty annoyed with the place for having the audacity to be under construction when we arrived at the Ritz to spend a couple days and pose for our first-look wedding photographs, which turned out splendid despite being largely taken in the shadow of the restaurant’s sealed up insides. We would each say “I do” later the same day – Dec. 16, 2012* – at the Ritz-Carlton Beach Club on Lido Key.

Kristin and I figured our anniversary celebrations would take place yearly at the Ritz’s Lido Beach Tiki Bar, where, we’re pretty sure the vast majority of our relatives were heavily partying with beers and boat drinks right before we exchanged vows. But then our first wedding anniversary week came and Kristin’s parents took us to Jack Dusty. We were there for lunch on one of those December days here that are sunny and cool enough for short-sleeves and just about as splendid as you could ever possibly imagine anywhere.

Jack Tar close

Jack's Tar Apple STAFF PHOTO/WADE TATANGELO

We started at the Jack Dusty bar and then relocated with our drinks in hand to its patio area overlooking an inlet that flows into Sarasota Bay. I vividly recall enjoying the Jack Tar's Apple ($12) – a manly concoction of Maker's Mark with American applejack, maple syrup and a hint of coffee liqueur served with a single, ice ball made at the bar and garnished with a bit of baby apple (OK, maybe it’s not that manly) – and a $22 steak sandwich, which, especially when factored in with the superb, waterfront surrounding sis worth every penny. I also remember Kristin being equally impressed with her blackened grouper sandwich ($20).

We returned to the handsome, marble bar at Jack Dusty on a recent Wednesday to celebrate Kristin’s birthday. We were soon greeted by head bartender Ingi Sigurdsson, who told us his new, self-designed drink menu would soon be unveiled. He then proceeded to make us several of his new concoctions including his latest masterwork, the Smoking Jacket ($21), which you can see be made here.

Calamari

Calamari STAFF PHOTO/WADE TATANGELO

In between the high-end, hand-crafted cocktails we noshed on such triumphantly yummy, inexpensive items as the house cut chips ($4), a couple orders of the “Pork Rinds with a PBR back” ($5 each), the shishito peppers ($12) and fried calamari ($15). Sitting there, watching the bar fill up with people ranging from young professionals to wealthy retirees, I smiled at Kristin and realized Jack Dusty really is a special spot, even if, you know, it’s not part of your marriage heritage. Sigurdsson’s new drinks, which are at once daring and accessible, are ready to order. Perhaps when they’re officially unveiled Kristin and I should return for some more reporting. Yeah, we think that’s a good idea.

*Note to all married people out there: Putting your anniversary in print will, with any luck, greatly improve the odds of you never forgetting this all-important date.

Jack Dusty at the Ritz-Carlton
1111 Ritz Carlton Drive, Sarasota; 309-2266; jackdusty.com.

Have a suggestion for a place to be featured in Bar Tab? Comment below, email to wade.tatangelo@heraldtribune.com or contact me on Twitter: @wtatangelo.

Jack Dusty at the Ritz-Carlton
1111 Ritz Carlton Drive, Sarasota; 309-2266; jackdusty.com.

Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013
WADE TATANGELOis the editor of TICKET + and a contributor at TicketSarasota.com. He has been an entertainment editor, reporter, columnist and reviewer for more than a decade at publications nationwide. He is a Hershey, Pa., native who grew up in Tampa and graduated from the University of South Florida. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune in 2013 and writes the weekly Bar Tab column. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: May 14, 2014
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