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No matter where you go in Sarasota, you will never be far from live music — in fact, you’ll probably encounter a great deal simply walking down the sidewalk downtown, in St. Armands Circle and Siesta Village. Some of the best places to check out live music, however, are tucked away, off the beaten path.
One in particular is the Cock & Bull, a gastropub and nationally celebrated beer bar located approximately 15 minutes east of Sarasota’s downtown nightlife focal point. With over 500 bottles and approximately 40 draughts on tap, the beer alone is worthy of the drive for craft beer aficionados far and wide, but that isn’t all the Cock & Bull has to offer. The interior space is packed relatively tightly — no doubt, due to all that beer — but the outdoor patio features two full stages, an outdoor bar, ample makeshift seating and, during the cooler months, a nightly bonfire. The Cock & Bull is the host venue for Sarasota’s annual Noise Ordinance Festival, a day-long event that celebrates approximately 30 local bands and musicians, each of whom perform back-to-back sets on the bar’s rotating stages while the crowd enjoys craft brews.
The Blue Rooster, a Southern-Americana-meets-urban themed bar and restaurant, and Darwin’s on 4th, a Peruvian-fusion restaurant/lounge and brewery, are located next door to one another in Sarasota’s Rosemary District. While the restaurants could not be any more different in style from the food to the entertainment and atmosphere, they do share a status as two of the hottest live music venues in town. Blue Rooster features Southern comfort food and cocktails with a rotating selection of local and regional blues and bluegrass bands that perform nightly in its acoustically pleasing, spacious warehouse space. Next door at Darwin’s, live DJs spinning thumping bass-lines dominate the swanky lounge some nights, while other nights, feisty salsa and tango beats accompany performers from the local burlesque troupe. The tapas-style Peruvian dishes accompanied by specialty cocktails and beers brewed with Incan ingredients at the restaurant’s in-house brewery are as eclectic as the live entertainment featured in the restaurant each night.