I donít consider myself "old" ó though I have gotten into a bad habit of informing door people insistent on checking my ID that Iím halfway to 70. But Iím frequently made aware of how far removed my lifestyle is from that of my 20s.
So when I walked into the Local Draught Houseís new spot in Tampaís Northdale neighborhood, the first thing that struck me was just how loud it was. You either die young or you live long enough to become the guy on Yelp complaining about the loud rap music, right?
Local Draught House features a lot of great Florida options on tap out of the 30 handles available. Youíve got your Coppertail, your Tampa Bay Brewing Co., your Green Bench. Thereís 3 Daughters, Brew Bus, Two Henrys, Cycle, Funky Buddha and even Yuengling. And there are some deeper cuts, too, like beers from Escape, Proof, Inoculum and Brew Hub.
Thereís a shot menu, but that stage of searching for lost youth is still a few years out, so Iím okay going for a beer instead. Rome City IPA it is.
Once Iíve adjusted to the volume ó which is admittedly exacerbated by the fact that Iím sitting directly in front of the TouchTunes jukebox ó I start to come around. This barís not bad. At all. I can still hang with the cool kids. Really.
For a shopping center watering hole, Local Draught House involves quite a nice build-out, with rustic wood panels covering the walls from the floor to about 12 feet up, leaving some headspace for an unfinished aluminum ceiling and exposed ductwork.
Iím not sure if itís by design, but if you sit at the bar and look toward the back of the room, it seems like youíre on an old city street, looking at the exteriors of some weathered wooden buildings. Sure, itís a city street with some arcade games and a foosball table, but itís still a fun, if unintentional, illusion.
Iím struck by how friendly the bartenders are. By the time Iím a few sips into my beer, Iím on a first-name basis with the staff. I learn that this is the third location for the Local Draught House chain, with another one in downtown Tampa and one up by the University of South Florida. The bartenders, who bounce between locations, are pretty happy with the local following that the Northdale one has earned in about four months in business.
Aside from the personable service, the Local Draught House has a lot of incentives intended to make Northdale residents new regulars. There are the all-day happy hour specials, which include various rotating $3, $4 and $5 specials, and thereís a Local Loyalty club that pays off pretty nicely.
The loyalty club rewards guests for repeat visits and awards points per dollars spent, with multipliers awarded during special events. Aside from solid discounts on bar tabs (like $10 off any $25 or more bar tab for every 100 points accrued at a $1 per point standard rate), there are swag prizes and even things like a Las Vegas trip for two, which will cost you 100,000 points. If you figure out how to game this promotion by consolidating your visits on multiplier days, youíre ready for Vegas.
As I hinted at earlier, the "local" in the name doesnít just refer to the barís clientele. Thereís an emphasis on locally produced booze, from the aforementioned draft (or draught, if you must) lineup, to a range of Florida spirits that feature heavily in the house cocktail list.
Youíll find lots of Florida Cane vodka from Tampa, flavored with Florida-grown fruit. Thereís rum from Siesta Key and from Old St. Pete Distillery. St. Augustineís excellent New World gin makes an appearance in one of the best gimlets Iíve had in some time. Iíd like to see some Florida whiskies in the mix (like Fish Hawk) to really bring it all together, but this is a great start.
Local Draught House makes a pretty compelling case for Northdale residents to make it their local watering hole, so long as they donít mind a little loud music. It wasnít exactly what I had in mind for an otherwise quiet weekday evening, but I didnít find it hard to come around to in the end.
The staff and the Florida-focused drink selection made that easy enough.
Contact Justin Grant at [email protected] Follow @WordsWithJG.