Cheers, Florida, for many great places to drink!
June 30, 2009 ·
Where else but Florida could a place like Jimbo’s exist?
It’s a Miami bait shack — emphasis on “shack” — a few miles from downtown but with an isolated island feel and a diverse mix of customers. Beer is self-serve and the 82-year-old owner watches over the activity in a rickety boat captain’s chair. It’s been a location in films like “Wild Things” and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and TV shows like “Flipper” and “Miami Vice,” yet most folks don’t know where it is.
And where else but Florida would you find places like the Flora-Bama, a beach bar known for live music and airborne fish; Square Grouper, named for the bales of marijuana that sometimes float ashore; The Last Resort, a biker bar where serial killer Aileen Wuornos drank her last beer, or a bar in Key West where Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Buffett hung out (though not at the same time).
Florida has 23,398 licensed places to sit and drink a beer, wine or a cocktail. A long “research” trip around the state found many bars reflect the wild, eclectic, historic and often bizarre character of the state itself. Here are a few worth noting.
JIMBO’S, Duck Lake Road, Virginia Key: So hard to find, the Jimbosplace.com Web site has a video showing the way.
CHURCHILL’S, 5501 NE Second Ave., Little Haiti, Miami: Serves English ales and bills itself as “A sort of English pub.” Marilyn Manson played his first gig here, and it appeared in the movie “There’s Something About Mary” as a strip club.
TOBACCO ROAD, 626 S. Miami Ave., downtown Miami: Oldest licensed bar in the city. A long, dark narrow bar leads to an outdoor courtyard. Blues greats like John Lee Hooker, Koko Taylor and Buddy Guy have played the upstairs hall. Concert posters, most signed, line the clapboard walls downstairs.
ALABAMA JACK’S, 58000 Card Sound Road, Key Largo: Located on the water on a road lined with mangroves. Drink beer, watch pelicans and hang out far from civilization.
NO NAME PUB, North Watson Boulevard, Big Pine Key: A former general store, brothel and bait shop hidden in a house beneath the trees, popular with locals (probably because tourists have a hard time finding it). Walls and ceilings are covered in dollar bills that patrons have signed and stapled to the wood.
CAPTAIN TONY’S SALOON, 428 Greene St., Key West: The bar where Hemingway drank, known then as Sloppy Joe’s. Mentioned in the Buffett song “Last Mango in Paris.” (Buffett also left graffiti on the bathroom wall.) The Key West “hanging tree” grows in the middle of the bar through the roof. Bar stools are adorned with names like Bob Dylan, Jerry Seinfeld, Ted Kennedy and Truman Capote — whom the saloon claims as past patrons. Buffett’s and Hemingway’s stools hang from the ceiling to prevent theft.
THE BULL & WHISTLE, 224 Duval St., Key West: Murals of Key West history on the first floor; wraparound balcony for watching the street scene on the second floor; rooftop clothing-optional bar on the third floor.
GREEN PARROT, 601 Whitehead St., Key West: Known for a wild mix of art, photos and objects representing everything from Abraham Lincoln to the rock band Kiss. A large parachute hangs above the bar with green Christmas lights.
LE TUB, 1100 N. Ocean Drive, Hollywood: A 1959 gas station redone in the 1970s as a multilevel bar that feels like a tropical forest sprouted in and around it. Large wooden booths overlook the intracoastal waterway. Old bathtubs and toilets, colorfully painted, serve as planters and signs.
THE ELBO ROOM, 241 S. Atlantic Blvd., Fort Lauderdale: This place has been pouring drinks since 1938 on the corner of Las Olas Boulevard and Route A1A — directly across from a popular spring-break beach. Featured in the 1960 movie “Where the Boys Are.” Music and patrons still spill out on the sidewalk from the open walls.
SQUARE GROUPER TIKI BAR, 111 Love St., Jupiter: Located across from an 1860 lighthouse where the Loxahatchee River empties into the Atlantic. Country music artist Alan Jackson filmed his video “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” here.