Have you ever had a drink that just completely rocked your world? There have only been a few times in my life that a boozy concoction has left me this weak in the knees and it happened Saturday night at Anise Global Gastrobar. I had plans to meet a good friend of mine for dinner this past weekend and chose Anise not only for their eccentric menu, but for their swanky cocktail list that would entice even a teetotaler. Anise also has one of the best damn bartenders in Tampa who just so happens to be a friend of mine. His name is Justin and he will seduce you with his craft and creativity that will leave you thirsting for more. He prepared a special drink for me that is not on the menu (sorry folks) but it damn well should be. Made with Double Cross Vodka, fresh muddled blueberries, lime juice, simple syrup, sage and blueberry mustard (yes, mustard), the Blue Bayou is like liquid crack. The drink was a pleasant surprise, as I had ordered the Gin Sing (Hendricks Gin, St. Germain, club soda and Crème de Violet foam) and was presented with not just one but two stunning cocktails. I had no complaints, as double-fisting is one of my many talents, and what caught my eye about the “surprise” cocktail was the gorgeous color and the sage garnish. Before asking what was in it, I was intrigued by the woodsy scent of the fresh sage which sat atop the blueberries which were practically begging me to take a sip. With opening notes of blueberry and citrus, this masterpiece starts off sweet from the natural juices of the plump berries and then ends on a bit of a tart note which is actually quite refreshing. As I tried to pinpoint the unique flavor, I was completely stumped and had to inquire the master. Justin came over and shared the ingredients and when he mentioned blueberry mustard I literally squealed. That was the ingredient that I could not figure out and I never imagined how incredible a fruity mustard could taste in a cocktail. As my friend and I sipped our drinks, we could not stop raving about the Blueberry Bayou. I will be the first to admit that the song “Blue Bayou” was stuck in my head as I drank this cocktail, but with altered lyrics of course.
“Saving nickles, saving dimes
Drinking ’til the sun don’t shine
Looking forward to happier times
Sippin’ Blueberry Bayou”
Since I have been on a clean eating kick the month of August, I avoided the temptation of truffled tots and Stinky Bunz and had to eat vicariously through my friend who was clearly enjoying his first food adventure at Anise. As much as I wanted to sink my teeth into Braised Pork Belly Stinky Bunz, I opted for Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Wrap Tacos with Sriracha candied bacon, papaya slaw & ginger aioli. Oh yeah! Low carb at its best, it was the perfect way to enjoy the exotic flavors and even get a little bacon. The cocktail was not the only thing that had me in a tizzy that night, as the Sriracha candied bacon was so orgasmic, it would convert even the most disciplined vegetarian. I ate every last piece on my dish, including the sliced jalapeños which left my tongue on fire until I could cool it off with another cocktail.
I think it is safe to say that Anise is my new favorite place in downtown Tampa and I am going back for more this weekend.