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Best Tampa Bay drinks: Bottoms up for these speciality cocktails

You bet on the Eagles to make it all the way to the Super Bowl? You'll need one of these.

Dirk Shadd | Times

You bet on the Eagles to make it all the way to the Super Bowl? You'll need one of these.

Neat, on the rocks, shaken not stirred—Tampa Bay's signature cocktails are anything but well-kept secrets.

Splitsville: It was the big drink this winter, even though they serve it all year round. That's right, it's the Super Bowl. At this bowling alley-cum-restaurant, spares, strikes, whatever—it's more important to checkout the 64-ounce mélange of Snow Queen vodka, Graves grain alcohol, grape Pucker and a big squirt of soda, served for you and your mates in a stylin' bowling-ball shaped glass. You've never had a more delicious libation while wearing bowling shoes. 615 Channelside Dr., Tampa. (813) 514-2695.

The Hub: There is no better place to enjoy a classic I-double-dog-dare-you cocktail than The Hub, one of Tampa's most beloved dive bars. Hubsters swear by the House Kamikaze, generous pours of vodka, Rose's lime juice and triple sec that only really start tasting good after the second one. By the fourth, they're genius. Cash only. 719 N. Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 229-1553.

Howl at the Moon: Oscar the Grouch's dream drink, Trash Can Punch packs Bacardi Limon, triple sec, black raspberry liqueur and more in your own, personal "trash can." Still, two Yamaha baby grands are at the center of all the festivities at Howl at the Moon, Tampa's liveliest piano bar. The staff is quick to break into song, which doesn't diminish the sense of barely contained conviviality at this waterside watering hole. The cuisine is largely pleasant and forgettable, but the drinks are stiff and the crowd is anything but. 615 Channelside Dr., Tampa. (813) 226-2261.

Blue Martini: It should come as no surprise that this place has a bevy of fabulous martinis that draw serious devotees. One of the most popular drinks, the Purple Passion, features Ketel One, Fruja raspberry liqueur, sour mix, 7-Up, the pale purple delight then garnished with an orchid. A bar for full-fledged adults, Blue Martini features an elevated stage behind the bar on which to see live rock nightly. The menu leans to attractive and contemporary small plates (seared tuna, hummus and pita chips). 2223 N. West Shore Blvd, International Plaza, Tampa. (813) 873-2583.

Samurai Blue Sushi & Sake Bar: There are two signature drinks, depending on your mood. Feeling a little "I am woman, hear me roar"? Try the Asian Goddess, comprised of pear sake, Absolut mandarin, Sprite and pineapple juice. The Signature Samurai, on the other hand, pairs unfiltered sake with triple sec, lime juice and cranberry. Where else but Samurai Blue Sushi & Sake Bar, Ybor's big, loud purveyors of sake bombers, "spontaneous combustion rolls" and other kooky spins on Japanese bar staples. 1600 E. 8th Ste C 208, Ybor City. (813) 242-6688.

Bellini: The sleek New York-style lounge attached to La Fogata, Gulfport's Brazilian restaurant, would make you feel hip even slurping an O'Doul's with a bendy straw. However, its cocktail list is top-notch, with items such as the Divine Goddess (Van Gogh pomegranate vodka, Cointreau, sour mix and cranberry garnished with a flower) for all your antioxidant needs. 2832-2838 Beach Blvd., Gulfport. (727) 327-4200.

Roy's: What better to precede Pacific Rim seafood than a bracing Hawaiian Martini of SKYY vodka, Malibu coconut rum and Stoli vanilla vodka, all steeped in a big jar with fragrant Maui pineapples? No wonder the Tampa dining cognoscenti has embraced the lively and uber-stylish Hawaiian-fusion Roy's brainchild of celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi. Several years in, Roy's has still got the buzz (and has just begun serving lunch for the first time). 4342 W. Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa. (813) 873-7697.

Jackson's Bistro-Bar-Sushi: This one eats like dessert. It's the Pied Piper martini, to attract the kid in you. The glass is lined with chocolate and comes with a chocolate mint stick, with which to stir the heady mélange of Kalua, Ketel One, Baileys, banana and cream. You can sample it along with a little live music on the weekends at Backjack's. During the week, the sleek, vast restaurant embraces the throngs with a laudably broad wine list and a something-for-everyone culinary approach that includes pistachio-crusted red snapper, lush prime ribeye steaks and a smart array of familiar nigiri and makimono sushi rolls. 601 S. Harbour Island Blvd. Ste 100, Tampa. (813) 277-0112.

Best Tampa Bay drinks: Bottoms up for these speciality cocktails 01/20/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 3:30pm]
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