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Forget RNC parties, here are the bars where Tampa Bay's politicians go to drink

As the Republican National Convention descends on Tampa, one of the most sought-after commodities for politicians passing through will be the bay area's bars.

Several local bars either will be closing their doors for private parties or trying to cater to the incoming political crowd. CNN is even making one out of thin air, converting Tampa's South Regional Garage into a restaurant/bar/TV studio called the CNN Grill, where passing politicos can drop by for a drink.

Yet there are already a number of watering holes in the Tampa Bay area that appeal to politicians, including mayors, City Council members and County Commissioners. Here are a few of the local drinking spots that attract political hotshots.

Four Green Fields

Four Green Fields' Irish atmosphere and Guinness on tap has brought many patrons under the bar's thatched roof, yet it also has become a popular spot for many Tampa politicians.

"Four Green Fields — how could you not have an Irish bar for politicians?" Tampa City Council member Mike Suarez said.

In particular, it is the preferred wat­ering hole of Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn. However, the Democrat mayor said Four Green Fields also caters to a crowd that "tends to be Republican, but of the Irish version."

"(I like) the Guinness," Buckhorn said. "The atmosphere is very unpretentious."

Although she hasn't "been there in ages," Tampa City Council member Lisa Montelione said she used to visit the bar for its Irish music, salmon platter with capers and, of course, the Guinness.

"That's definitely the best place to get Guinness in town," she said. "It's pretty much the best place to get Guinness anywhere." (205 W Platt St., Tampa, (813) 254-4444, ­

Beak's Old Florida

Although the Grand Central District bar describes itself as "a place for grown-ups," Beak's Old Florida could perhaps just as aptly be described as a place for politicians.

One of the bar's political patrons is St. Pete City Council member Jeff Danner, who said the tavern and restaurant resides within his district.

"I jokingly call that my satellite office," he said.

Danner said Beak's Old Florida is also a popular place for campaign fundraisers of St. Petersburg politicians. Fellow St. Pete City Council member Jeff Kennedy is also a fan of the bar — particularly for its kitschy atmosphere.

"Besides having good food, the ambience in there is unique," Kennedy said. "Uniquely tacky. I'm not sure if that's a compliment." (2451 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 321-9100.

Rick's on the River

A laid-back bar and seafood restaurant overlooking the Hillsborough River might not seem like a political hotspot, but a few Tampa politicians have expressed their admiration for it.

Suarez is one of the politicos who considers himself a Rick's on the River's supporter, holding the victory party for his City Council win at the bar.

"It's got both the ambience of a river town and a beach town," he said. "It's a great bar, a great place."

Montelione is another fan from the Tampa City Council. She said that the appeal of Rick's and Skipper's Smokehouse, the other bar she is likely to visit these days, is the daily live music.

"Again, all the places I gravitate to would have music," she said. (2305 N Willow Ave., Tampa; (813) 251-0369,

Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill

This St. Petersburg sports bar shares a similarly casual vibe with Beak's Old Florida — as well as a constituency of St. Pete politicos among those who drop in to drink and watch the Rays play.

Kennedy said he goes to Ferg's in addition to Beak's, and that it is a "little more connected" politically.

Indeed, the bar's website gallery, former Gov. Charlie Crist and Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Judge Tom Ramsberger can be glimpsed (as well as Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber.)

Ferg's has also been visited by St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who used the bar as the backdrop for his 2009 election night party. Foster did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

The bar even attracted the attention of a national politician, originally being tapped as the location for an exclusive Ron Paul party on Sunday. However, security measures surrounding a party that night at Tropicana Field moved the event to Whisky Joe's Bar & Grill in Tampa. (1320 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 822-4562.

Forget RNC parties, here are the bars where Tampa Bay's politicians go to drink 08/23/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 23, 2012 3:24pm]
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