By Samantha Joseph
STUART - Expect to be surprised at The Flying Dutchman Lounge, where drinks resemble solid fruit, decorative sheets of translucent paper or even sushi-grade tuna with all the fixings.
The elegant bar inside The Green Mango in Stuart is more than a trendy stop.
It's like a field trip for those on the lookout for the newest and most delicious cocktails, served with a flourish and a flare for high drama.
There, colorful cotton candy made from Lifesavers sit in martini glasses; pretty gelatin-like balls of fine liqueur create decorative highlights for polka dot martinis; and avocado ice cream combines with black and green tea foams, vodka and cream in an unexpected house specialty that is a favorite of host Kim Landeweer.
Just about every drink has its own surprise.
In the deconstructed St. Germain cosmopolitan, the treat is the elder flower liqueur, made from a plant that blossoms only once per year.
Cardamom-infused sweet and sour mixers, tamarind and guava rum with splashes of strawberry and passion fruit tequila make for lively variations of the margarita.
House-made foams add condensed flavor, such as root beer, lime and black tea.
And the tiny balls of colorful liqueur, created in-house to resemble caviar, kick an extra shot of flavor into each rum runner. They burst on the tongue or with gentle nibbles, enhancing the pineapple rum and juices in the lovely blue cocktail.
Staff said the "drinks take a lot of love."
But the pièce de résistance is also perhaps the drink with the oddest name.
The tuna tartare, served to resemble a sushi house favorite, arrives on a small white tray and is the perfect impression of tuna sashimi with sake.
It's one of several "deconstructed" cocktails that are helping to set The Flying Dutchman Lounge and The Green Mango apart.
The "drink" is actually mostly solid, consisting of watermelon slices infused with blueberry rum, sweet and sour mixer and Triple Sec, an orange-flavored liqueur.
It's made through a process that turns the fruit into an edible cocktail, which bartenders arrange to resemble sashimi tuna. They then add tiny liqueur balls to represent masago or fish eggs, complimentary flavors that look like wasabi and soy sauce, plus lemongrass infused Purus vodka to represent pickled ginger.
The result is a stunning mix of science and bartending.
Watching bartenders transform simple ingredients into exotic mojitos, turn solid fruit into cocktails or create bloody Mary squares really is like being in chemistry class again.
Only this time, it's a pleasure to be there.
The Green Mango and Flying Dutchman Lounge are located at 2500 S.E. Federal Highway, in the Regency Square Plaza, in Stuart. It opens daily at 11 a.m. The lounge offers daily specials, including $5 mojitos on Mondays, 20 percent discounts for food-service employees on Wednesdays, ladies' night on Thursdays and live entertainment on Thursday to Saturday. For more information, call (772) 600-7198 or visit www.thegreenmango.com.