Alcohol is a hot topic in Orlando right now. Between the epic news that Magic Kingdom’s newest restaurant will serve beer and wine during dinner, the upcoming Epcot Food and Wine Festival, and Oktoberfests happening throughout the Sunshine State, it’s the topic du jour. Couple all that with it being the start to a challenging week and I am ready to talk libations. Now before we dive in, it is time for a disclaimer. ThisFloridaLife is not a food blog, therefore some of the following selections and reviews do not aim to be artsy, chic, or off-the-wall. These are my favorite places to grab a drink, as a local, as a Native, as a Florida loving woman.
(In no particular order)
Favorite Watering Holes
- Jimmy’s Buffett’s Margaritaville Cafe – Ok yes, it is so cliche’. Ok yes, the drinks aren’t the cheapest. But for this little parrotthead in training, it is hard to beat the atmosphere. For vacationers, Margaritaville Cafe at Universal CityWalk offers a perfect backdrop to feel an ideal Florida tropical atmosphere. For locals, this is a perfect way to experience a day-cation. Get away from it all, even if only for a few rounds, sit back and soak in the tropical, beach perfect music. You’ll be hardpressed to find a friendlier group of bartenders anyway else in Orlando.
- The Hourglass Brewery – In Longwood, Florida you will find an Orlando suburb with a decent historical area that neighbors a commercial zone. On the edge of these two regions sits an unassuming group of three small, white bungalows. Here you will find The Hourglass Brewery. It can easily be described as nothing more than a small local brewery… can be, but it shouldn’t. It is so much more. Unassuming and inviting, this small brewery is a great place to explore a real local’s hang out. The beers are brewed mere inches from the intimate Tap Room where patrons can sample the Hourglass’ brews and other craft beers by the pint, by the pitcher, and even as a 1 oz. sample. In fact, typing about it now is making me want to swing on by for a pint.
- The Wine Room on Park Ave – This is by no means a place for a cheap date. Boasting 146 different wine tasting samples, the Wine Room on Park Ave is a haven for wine enthusiasts. Simply purchase your wine card and load it with any amount you desire, like a gift card. Insert the card into one of the wine dispensing machines and explore. In my opinion, the food selection is a little weak and sometimes the crowd can be too much. However, it is still a unique experience and a great opportunity for socializing.
- Eola Wine Company – As impressive at The Wine Room is, I prefer to feel welcomed and not just part of the crowd, and that’s what Eola Wine Company offers. I have always found the food selection and quality to be better and the atmosphere more welcoming here. There are two locations in Orlando, I prefer the Park Ave location (no surprise there).
- Tutto Gusto and La Cava del Tequila – Both of these establishments are located inside Walt Disney World’s Epcot and both are operated by well respected restaurant companies with operations throughout the country. La Cava del Tequila was the first-of-its-kind establishment to open within the gates of Epcot. Once a rarely visited
merchandise shop, it is now a favorite among Disney fans. Enter a small, amber lit ‘cave’ filled with agave barrels. Shots of tequilla and the most unique margaritas you can find in Florida can be ordered at the bar or relax and take a seat (when you can find one available). Again, this is not an inexpensive place, but they do offer specials for Twitter followers (@cavadeltequila).
Tutto Gusto opened a few months ago to rave reviews. It is the third food and beverage location to open inside Epcot’s Italy Pavilion. Operated by the Patina Group, the quality of food in all three food and beverage outlets in the Italy pavilion are outstanding. I cannot think of a better place in Orlando to sample Italian wines, cheeses, and fresh Italian cuisine.
- Finnegan’s – Yeah, yeah another theme park drinking place. But wait, let me explain. Finnegan’s is an Irish pub located inside Universal Studios Florida. In the middle of a bustling theme park, Finnegan’s feels worlds away. The bartenders are always welcoming and friendly. Sadly, I have not tried their food, but I am always drawn to this place when visiting Universal Studios.
- The Eden Bar – As part of the Enzian theater in Winter Park, the Eden Bar is an open-air bar with a unique blend of charm, art, and casual Florida relaxation. I just love the fantastic Florida mural that encompasses part of the bar. A lovely little fountain adds a great ambiance among the shade of the old oak trees. Visiting the Eden Bar is a must-do before taking in the latest indy-film or a wonderful way to spend a beautiful Florida evening.
Uncharted Adventures (places I have yet to visit that are on my must-drink list)
- The Most Important Thing to do at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival (thisfloridalife.com)
- Disney has a Drinking Problem (thisfloridalife.com)
- Dining Diversions (thisfloridalife.com)
- A Very Happy Hour at Margaritaville (thisfloridalife.com)
- The Hourglass Brewery: Time Well Spent (thisfloridalife.com)