Sweet Treats: Candy Cocktails Rule the Candy Apple Café & Cocktails

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Candy cocktails rule the roost at the Candy Apple Café & Cocktails.


The Candy Apple Café and Cocktails in Jacksonville, FL offers up cocktails with a twist. Most beverages in this venue are garnished with candy, which is befitting since the restaurant-bar is inside Sweet Pete’s candy store.

“We garnish with candy to link the cocktails in with the store,” says general manager Courtney O'Quinn. “We try to incorporate that whimsical and childlike feel.”

The best selling candy cocktail is Sweet Pete’s Watermelon Sour. The bar dishes up four other cocktails with candy, plus another nine without.

The Candy Apple Cafe Pop Rockadopolis cocktail - Candy cocktails

Pop Rockadopolis, a riff on a martini with Tito’s vodka, orange liqueur, lime juice and cranberry juice, contains Pop Rocks in the bottom of the glass, and these sparkle and effervesce once the liquid is poured over them. The Watermelon Sour features a watermelon Sour Patch gummy for garnish. This cocktail contains Don Q rum, watermelon puree, Watermelon Pucker and lime juice.

The Candy Apple Cafe Bourbon S'Mores cocktail - Candy cocktails

The Bourbon S’mores is exactly what it sounds like. The cocktail contains housemade chocolate-infused Four Roses bourbon, Kahlúa, KerryGold Irish Cream, milk and house-made demerara syrup. To top it all off, the glass is rimmed with marshmallow fluff and graham crackers and garnished with toasted marshmallows on a stick.

The Candy Apple Cafe Rock Candy Old Fashioned cocktail - Candy cocktails

Rock Candy Old Fashioned (made with Four Roses bourbon, housemade demerara syrup and Decanter Bitters) features a swizzle stick, which also adds to the flavor of the beverage: “A lot of people use it to stir then eat it at the end,” O’Quinn says.

The Salted Caramel Apple Brûlée cocktail is like a martini, O’Quinn says, featuring apples sprinkled with turbinado sugar and brûléed. The bar uses them as the garnish and shakes sea salt caramel in with the drink. This, says O’Quinn, “is not melted but it’s like a caramel sauce so it gives a bit of a froth to the drink.”

You’d think cocktails like these would be appealing to female customers, but they sell to both genders. “Guys seem to like super-sweet drinks, too. I guess they think they can come here and that’s forgiven.”

They’re also big business, constituting 90%of all alcoholic beverages sold here. “In fact, we rarely sell regular drinks,” she says.

And while they can stand as a drink – or even a snack – in their own right, they’re often consumed during dinner. Most people have one as an aperitif and a second during dinner, says O’Quinn. Sometimes these drinks take the place of dessert, too.

The cocktails sell well every day. “Because of our location customers want to come in and have some fun,” says O’Quinn. “You get to be a kid here – and drink, too.”

The cocktails range from $10 to $13. During happy hour one is featured for $8 and it rotates weekly.

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