Q: In early 2012, Stoney’s Steakhouse had a contest to choose a specific Naples cocktail, and the Coquito Mojito was the chosen favorite, according to the NDN. It was to be available in all Naples Originals restaurants, though I have yet to find one bartender among three of the Originals who knows what it is. Do you know which restaurants know of this drink and where we can try it? Thanks! The information in your column is invaluable.
— Carole, North Naples
A: Not all Naples Originals restaurants are on board yet with the new drink, which — although it is a coconut-flavored mojito — is actually named the Naples Original, said Beth Preddy, a spokeswoman for Naples Originals, a group of local restaurants. At least nine area eateries offer the The Naples Original, made with rum, coconut cream, lime juice, club soda and mint, although Preddy said some Naples Originals restaurants do not have full bars and are less likely to make it.
Naples’ signature cocktail is served at these Naples Originals restaurants: Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar, Chez Boet, Ciao, The Dock at Crayton Cove, M Waterfront Grill and Stoney’s Steakhouse; as well as at these local restaurants: Alberto’s on Fifth, Flava, and Le Lafayette, Preddy said.
The special mojito edged out Basil Lemonade and bested four others in the cocktail contest vote to be named the Naples Original. Mixologist David Ortiz created six original cocktails in an effort to capture the spirit and flavor of Naples.
Because Ortiz used artisanal creations from the American Still Life collection, for which he is the Florida ambassador, the unique spirits are not easily obtainable.
One of the rums comes from Dancing Pines Distillery, a small, family distillery that handcrafts small batches of spirits. It was chosen because it pairs well with Naples Originals’ local mission, Preddy said.
The Dancing Pine Oak Cask Rum used in the Naples Original is produced in a copper still and aged in a charred oak cask.
“The result is an unexpectedly mellow spirit reminiscent of the cane molasses from which it was made,” according to the Dancing Pine’s website, dancingpinesdistillery.com.
The recipe for the new signature cocktail:
THE NAPLES ORIGINAL
¾ oz. Dancing Pine Oak Cask Rum
¾ oz. Coconut Flavored Rum
¾ oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
¾ oz. Coco Lopez Coconut Cream Splash of club soda
3 sprigs fresh mint, plus one for garnish Lime wheel garnish Coquitos (marble-sized coconuts, optional garnish)
1 Lightly muddle the mint in the coconut cream.
2 Add lime juice and rums.
3 Fill with ice to the top and give it a long, hard shake.
4 Pour through strainer into a glass over ice.
5 Add a splash of club soda.
6 Garnish with mint sprig, lime wheel and coquito.
JOE’S STONE CRABS COMING?
Q: Is Joe’s Stone Crabs from Miami opening a branch in the Naples area? I heard a few months ago it was going to do so.
— Linda Starling, Naples
A: Although the iconic Miami Beach dining spot already has two sister locations — in Chicago and Las Vegas — Joe’s Stone Crab is not interested in tampering with its longtime success.
“We don’t really want to dilute the quality of what we do,” said Brian Johnson, general manager.
Joe’s Stone Crab, which opened in 1918, is famous for its seasonal stone crabs served with mustard sauce. Joe’s does not accept reservations, so diners commonly wait more than two hours just to get into the South Florida landmark, which occupies an entire city block.
Denying a Joe’s Stone Crab expansion here, Johnson indicated that the reader may have mistaken the trendy Florida tourist spot for a seafood chain with a similar name.
“It might have been Joe’s Crab Shack,” Johnson said.
Joe’s Crab Shack, a national seafood restaurant chain, has a location in Naples at 1355 Fifth Ave. S., on the edge of the Gordon River. Both a local manager and a spokesman for Ignite Restaurant Group, the eatery’s parent company, said the chain does not have plans now to expand beyond its existing Naples and Fort Myers locations.
MORE LOCAL RESTAURANT NEWS
■ Cafe Alfredo is targeted to open next week in the former location of Pizzaiolis, which closed about three months ago at the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt, 2359 Vanderbilt Beach Road, in North Naples. Although its name evokes a creamy pasta sauce, the local restaurant is named for Chef Alfredo Bajraktarevic, who co-owns the cafe with his wife, Tina.
Bajraktarevic, whose 40-year restaurant career began at age 14 in Rome, Italy, also is the founding chef and still co-owns Panevino Ristorante, a northern Italian restaurant that opened in 1996 in Marketplace at Pelican Bay. Cafe Alfredo will specialize in authentic northern Italian cuisine, as well, featuring fresh pastas and wood-fired pizzas. The 3,600-square-foot restaurant includes a full bar and an open kitchen with a prominent pizza oven.
Outdoor seating is available for dinner in the front, and for quiet cocktails on the east side of the family friendly, casual restaurant.
“It’s going to have a unique atmosphere,” said Tina Bajraktarevic. “We want it to be fun and we want it to be relaxing.”
Cafe Alfredo, located on the northwest corner of Airport-Pulling and Vanderbilt Beach roads, is open daily 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch, 4 p.m. for cocktails, and 5 p.m. for dinner. The restaurant will close midday to allow preparation for dinner, Bajraktarevic said. The restaurant’s permanent signs won’t be up until later this month. 239-431-8605.
■ Whisk! Treats and Eats opened Friday at 935 Third Ave. N., next to Richie’s Restaurant, just off U.S. 41 across from NCH Hospital in downtown Naples.
You can’t miss it because Whisk’s motto spans the front of the eatery in all-cap, orange letters: FRESH FUN FOOD FAST. The gourmet-to-go shop, a sister business of French Bread Oven in East Naples, features breakfast and lunch as well as snacks and treats.
The breakfast menu includes egg and cheddar croissants and paninis with a choice of bacon, sausage or ham, while sandwiches are available for lunch with a variety of breads, meats, cheeses, toppings and condiments.
In addition to multiple fresh breads and baguettes, baked treats include fruit turnovers and danishes, brioche, elephant ears, cookies, brownies and cinnamon knots and rolls. Pastries include eclairs, Napoleons, cream puffs, and fruit ganache and tarts. Patrons also can try Whiskshots! — shot-size portions of chocolate mousse, tiramisu, cheesecake, key lime pie, apple pie and other desserts.
Whisk! is open 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Considered part of Trinity Plaza, the new eatery/bakery is in the former space of Spa Excel, behind the Simply Cupcakes store. 239-263-3707.
■ Senor Tequila’s Fine Mexican Grill plans to open its third area location this spring. The new family operated restaurant is targeted to open May 1 in a large space that was vacant for more than two years at Marquesa Plaza, 13040 Livingston Road, on the corner of Pine Ridge Road, said Elvia Fletes, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Miguel. The 5,567-square-foot space will be the largest of the Senor Tequila’s locations, including Golden Gate and Bonita Springs, which opened in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
The new location, formerly Sharks Cavern restaurant, will feature the same popular menu as the original restaurants, Fletes said.
■ The Counter Custom Built Burgers is making it clear that it is opening this summer in Mercato in North Naples.
A construction divider with full-color photos of burgers piled high with avocado slices, mushrooms and jalapenos is now being displayed at the future eatery’s 1,300-squarefoot corner store at 9110 Strada Place, the same block as Bravo! Cucina Italiana.
The Counter is the California- based chain that has patrons design their own burgers by checking off items on an extensive list of ingredients on a clipboard.
The new Mercato store is targeted to open between June 30 and July 15.
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"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.