Sunday, July 15, 2018
Bars & Spirits

Bar review: Cheap drinks do fine at the Joint in St. Petersburg

The Tyrone area of St. Petersburg is a little light on drinking spots, so the locals must have been happy when a long-running neighborhood spot — formerly Donk's Sports Tavern and Double J's Sports Bar — reopened earlier this year as the Joint.

Sometimes, a good renovation is all a place needs. The Joint, which opened in February, represents a nice makeover for the old dives that preceded it, bringing in fresh-cut cedar paneling for the walls, a slew of flat-screens around the interior and a granite-topped bar. Starting next month, they're adding a kitchen that will serve food until 2 a.m.

These kind of bars don't need anything special to work. The sign out front reads "cocktails" right under the name. But these aren't craft cocktails, any more than the brews in the ice well are craft beers. The selection is sparse, like the unfinished wall paneling: simple, and to the point.

Like it predecessors, the Joint is still very much a sports bar. Orioles and Ravens fans will find themselves at home there, based on various memorabilia scattered about, and it's also a great place to catch Rays games. With the bare wood and sports bar vibe, it almost seems like a tiny Hooters, sans the orange shorts and pantyhose, and with much cheaper drinks.

If you order a cocktail at the Joint, it's probably going to be something pretty basic. A whiskey with Coke or ginger ale; a vodka soda; a highball. This is where the Joint makes its case: Drinks come with a very liberal pour, and they're remarkably cheap, with few labels cracking the $4 mark. On weekday happy hours and all day Wednesday, nearly everything is $2.32. Why $2.32? Ask the bartender (it involves racehorses).

I noticed the bar didn't serve draft beer, which is a routine I know all too well. That's the point where I ask what they have in bottles, sit through a list of every domestic macro on the market, and ultimately settle for something like Icehouse, mostly as a reminder that they still make the stuff.

However, this list was punctuated with Cigar City Jai Alai IPA, which came to me in a cold, unopened can. I feared the worst as I checked the canning date on the bottom, only to find that this stuff was two weeks off the line. Not bad!

Strangely, the cocktails came out in styrofoam cups, which appear to be a temporary measure while the kitchen is being sorted out. Even though the bar's been open for several months, there are still renovations taking place, like finishing the small dining area adjacent to the bar that will come in very handy once the kitchen is operational.

In addition to the two interior rooms, there's also a small outdoor patio, bordered by planters holding tall areca palms. Even though it's right off the main stretch, the patio feels somewhat secluded, tucked away at the back of the parking lot, surrounded by plants.

The Joint is far from the neighborhood dive I was expecting. The raw wood look works well with the low-key lighting, making it a reasonable place to grab a meal and watch the game, as well as hang out for some late-night drinks. For such a relatively small space, the new owners have done a lot with it.

The remodel has been a hit with the locals, too. Some of the reviews I read expressed gratitude that the new owners had cleaned up what was otherwise a fading local watering hole. Hopefully, the Joint will find some solid footing in the Tyrone neighborhood and bring some of these folks back.

There's nothing special going on at the Joint, and that seems about right. A good, honest neighborhood bar doesn't need a lot to make it work — a nicely upgraded interior and value-centric drink offerings are enough.

Time will tell, but I think the Joint has long-running local establishment written all over it.

Contact Justin Grant at [email protected] Follow @WordsWithJG.

     
 
Comments
This Florida burger joint is one of the 10 best in America, travel website says

This Florida burger joint is one of the 10 best in America, travel website says

A 2Ĺ-hour drive south could land Tampa residents at one of Americaís best burger joints, according the review and travel website TripAdvisor.com.The website released a list of the "10 Most Delectable Burger Joints" in America on Wednesday, placing Na...
Published: 07/14/18
Epicurean to host fourth annual Epic Chef Showdown for Feeding Tampa Bay

Epicurean to host fourth annual Epic Chef Showdown for Feeding Tampa Bay

The Epicurean Hotel, 1207 S Howard Ave., plays host to the seven-week Epic Chef Showdown Feeding Tampa Bay benefit from 6:30 to 9 p.m each Monday starting July 16 running through to Aug. 27.Local celebrities and notable food writers will judge the fo...
Published: 07/12/18
Updated: 07/14/18
Bar review: New St. Pete breweries have sour power

Bar review: New St. Pete breweries have sour power

It took a few years, but downtown St. Petersburg is officially ready for a pair of manageable brewery crawls, thanks to the recent openings of Overflow Brewing Company and Inoculum Ale Works.The two breweries bridge the gap between Green Bench, Cycle...
Published: 07/12/18
Kekeís fourth site in South Tampa thrives among locals

Kekeís fourth site in South Tampa thrives among locals

Popular up-and-coming Orlando chain, Kekeís Breakfast Cafe has recently opened the doors to its fourth Tampa location in South Tampa on June 18. The restaurantís name Kekeís, originates from its owners Keith and Kevin Mahen who started the chain in 2...
Published: 07/12/18
Bundt cake shop coming to Wiregrass

Bundt cake shop coming to Wiregrass

LUTZ ó Even though itís not open for business yet, Tammy Mencia has been getting e-mails on a daily basis from excited customers wanting to know when Nothing Bundt Cakes is opening."Thatís a great sign," said Mencia, co-owner.In March 2017, husband a...
Published: 07/12/18
Vivianís Cajun Crawfish Pies found in Fresh Markets across Tampa Bay

Vivianís Cajun Crawfish Pies found in Fresh Markets across Tampa Bay

TAMPA ó Vivian Clarkís passion for Cajun cooking originated from her roots as a Louisiana native. She shared her specialty, Cajun crawfish pies, at a friendís party back in 1998 and ever since they have been in high demand. She began making them for ...
Published: 07/12/18
Local craft beer of the week: Butterfly Effect from Motorworks Brewing

Local craft beer of the week: Butterfly Effect from Motorworks Brewing

Bradentonís Motorworks Brewing has two interesting summer releases. The first is its wonderful Lavender Ale, a lush, lavender-infused scotch ale thatís going from draft-only to a full distribution run in 16-ounce cans. The second is an on-site exclus...
Published: 07/12/18
Friday is National French Fry Day. Find (free!) fries in Tampa Bay.

Friday is National French Fry Day. Find (free!) fries in Tampa Bay.

Guess what Friday is? Itís National Fry Day (#FRYdayThe13th, see what they did there?). Fun fact: Their origin story may not lie in France but in Belgium. So why do we credit France? Thomas Jefferson is said to have introduced deep-fried potatoes at ...
Published: 07/11/18
July 11, better known as 7/11, is upon us. With it? Free slurpees again.

July 11, better known as 7/11, is upon us. With it? Free slurpees again.

Itís that time of year again.For the 16th straight year, 7-Eleven will give out free slurpees Wednesday for its annual "7/11 Day" on July 11.Customers will be able to receive a free small Slurpee by going into any 7-Eleven location between 11 a.m. to...
Published: 07/11/18
We got a preview of the food at Osteria, the new Tampa restaurant from Top Chefís Fabio Viviani

We got a preview of the food at Osteria, the new Tampa restaurant from Top Chefís Fabio Viviani

TAMPA ó The evening began with chef Fabio Viviani telling the group to fork the fluffy coccoli in front of us, break it open then stuff it with the cold smoked prosciutto de Parma and stracchino cheese delicately laid out on wooden boards. "Stracchin...
Published: 07/10/18