Saturday, February 24, 2018
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PCI Beach Bar offers quality beach cocktails by the gulf

I hope you enjoyed the mild weather that we lucked out with for the past few months, because we're back to the classic Florida spring — a summer by most definitions, scorching heat and humidity. On the bright side, it's a perfect formula for spring breakers, who can now take full advantage of Florida's sub-tropical climate, white sand beaches and mild waters.

A little heat has never stopped me from enjoying a nice beachside ­cocktail, though, and I suspect that will hold true for the legions of college kids with next week off and a hankering for frozen margaritas and rum runners. If you're in search of something just a touch more low-key, a quick walk down the beach may reveal a beachside bar or two that will do the trick.

This stylish, waterfront Postcard Inn on the Beach has a cocktail bar in the attached Beachwood BBQ & Burgers, but if you head to the beach end of the property, you'll find a rustic outdoor PCI Beach Bar, decorated in the campy Old Florida style, with license plates and Christmas lights hanging from its exposed beams.

It's a small place, with an island bar in the middle of a wide, wooden deck that lets out directly onto the beach. Patrons can take a seat on one of the benches along the bar or even lounge on one of the Adirondack chairs facing the beach. A small area for live music is at one end of the deck, and an adjacent Snack Shack delivers appetizers and sandwiches directly to the bar.

As with most beach bars, the drink menu consists largely of fruit-flavored cocktails and frozen drinks, but the options at PCI have a few creative twists that make them more memorable than the average mojito or daiquiri.

For example, the Skinny Margarita is a top-tier affair, utilizing Partida Blanco tequila, agave nectar and fresh lime juice instead of the prepackaged stuff that you'll find at many other places. The Slippery Sea Wall is one of the few fruit-centric cocktails to pique my interest lately, mixing Smirnoff Coconut vodka, apricot brandy, melon liqueur, cranberry and pineapple juice — it's a perfect drink to sip as you watch the sun go down over the water.

I tried a few other cocktails and was impressed with the quality each time. The Orange Julius, a blend of Pinnacle Whipped vodka and orange juice, was great as a frozen drink (with a touch of Island Oasis Piña Colada mix thrown in), and the Hunch Punch was a truly potent and tasty concoction, utilizing Original Moonshine, a clear corn whiskey from Virginia that uses a Prohibition-era copper still in the distilling.

Of course, the beer list contains all the beach beer favorites, like Corona, Miller Lite and other easy-drinking crowd-pleasers, as well as a house brew called Cold Ass (simply a re-branded Rolling Rock), but there are a few craft options that are noteworthy for how well they fit into a beach environment. Dale's Pale Ale is available in the can, providing a big flavor boost over the average beachside beer, and draft selections include our very own Florida Avenue Ale, as well as Abita's raspberry-flavored Purple Haze.

If tropical drinks, sub-tropical weather and seaside scenery sound like your kind of thing, you may want to take a look at the PCI Beach Bar. The combination of classic Florida style, laid-back atmosphere, and quality house cocktails make it a great place to kick back and enjoy the sunny, balmy Florida spring. — [email protected]

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