Cheers, Florida, for many great places to drink!
June 30, 2009 ·
WALDO’S AT THE DRIFTWOOD, 3150 Ocean Drive, and OCEAN GRILL, 1050 Beachland Blvd., both in Vero Beach: The eccentric developer Waldo Sexton built these landmarks, Waldo’s in 1937 and the Ocean Grill in 1941. Both feature the interesting building materials and unique objects Emerson was known for collecting. The Ocean Grill’s bar hangs above the beach for great views.
POMARS, 6896 Route A1A South, St. Augustine: Classic old Florida beach bar from the ’50s.
TRADEWINDS LOUNGE, 124 Charlotte St., St. Augustine: A slice of the South Pacific amid historic downtown’s Spanish architecture. House band Mantanzas, led by Troy Locke, has been rocking the place for 26 years. Locke’s colorful stories include one about a Ringo Starr impostor who made big local news sitting in with the band until folks found out it wasn’t the real Beatles drummer. “He didn’t know anything about the Beatles,” Locke said recently.
PASTIME, 5301 Lenox Ave., Jacksonville: Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps” was written after singer Ronnie Van Zant was chased out of the Pastime at gunpoint. The tiny building has the look of a biker bar, but the feel of a neighborhood bar. “If it was any bigger, the song would have been called ‘Gimme Five Steps,’” said owner Billy Bob Johnson.
PETE’S BAR, 117 First St., Neptune Beach: Inspiration for the bar in John Grisham’s “The Brethren.” It’s been around since 1933. On display: World War II-era guns and knives, and photos of Fidel Castro and Hemingway from Cuba.
PALACE SALOON, 117 Centre St., Fernandina Beach: Located in the northeast corner of the state. It opened as a bar in 1903 and converted the downstairs to an ice cream shop while continuing to serve booze at an upstairs speakeasy during Prohibition. Adolphus Busch, founder of Anheuser-Busch, helped design the bar, an elegant throwback to another era.
FLORA-BAMA LOUNGE, 17401 Perdido Key Drive, Pensacola: Located in the westernmost Panhandle on the Alabama line. This may be Florida’s best beach bar, even as it continues to rebuild from 2004′s Hurricane Ivan. Famed for its mullet toss, a fish-throwing contest watched by multitudes.
SANDSHAKER, 731 Pensacola Beach Blvd., Pensacola Beach: Multi-room beach bar that invented “The Bushwhacker” — a frozen drink with coffee liquor and rum. Tastes like a chocolate shake, but is deceptively strong with 151-proof rum.
RED BAR, 70 Hotz Ave., Santa Rosa Beach (Grayton Beach): Poster-covered walls, vintage white leather men’s shoes, a large-mouthed bass, random photos, and figurines ranging from Donald Duck to Jesus are all part of the decor. The bathrooms are illuminated by red Christmas lights.
LEON PUB, 215 E. Sixth St., Tallahassee: One of Florida’s best beer bars, with nearly 50 taps, 300 different bottled beers, and the feel of a smoky, grungy brewania museum. Enormous beer signs meant for outdoor use hang on the walls, as do beer trays, beer clocks, beer mirrors and beer towels.
SKIPPER’S SMOKEHOUSE, 910 Skipper Rd., Tampa: A great place to see a band, with an outdoor stage among large oak trees and brightly painted beams and fences.
LOU’S BLUES, 3191 N. Highway A1a, Indialantic: Also a good place to hear music. Lou’s has a strange assortment of stuff: barber chairs, a chandelier covered in bras, a mannequin riding a stuffed mountain goat, a skeleton on an old motorcycle frame wearing a red sparking top hat. As the member of one recent band told the crowd, “You never know what you’re going to find when you come here to Lou’s Blues. Just look around.”
WALLY’S, 1001 N. Mills Ave., Orlando: Proud to be a dive bar. Marked with a classic red neon sign, smoky, dark and small, with an orange Formica bar top and strong drinks. The wallpaper is printed with a faint pattern of naked women that look like ’70s Playboy shots.
DESERT INN, 5540 South Kenansville Road, YeeHaw Junction: Lost-in-time bar and restaurant where cowboys and Indians stopped in the early 1900s. Has that same feeling today.
THE EVERGLADES LOUNGE, 108 Royal Palm Ave., Clewiston: The bar in the historic Clewiston Inn features an amazing mural of Everglades flora and fauna.
THE LAST RESORT, 5812 S. Ridgewood Ave., Port Orange: The biker bar where Wuornos was arrested and the Charlize Theron movie “Monster” was shot. The small building is covered with graffiti left by patrons, including Theron. Outside, busted, rusted and burned motorcycle frames hang from the limbs of an oak tree. A nearby marker lists the names of bikers whose ashes have been spread under the tree.