Make us your home page

Bar review: Cool cocktails done right at Marlow's Tavern in Tampa

The Three Hour Tour and the Nice Pear . . . Manhattan are two of the inventive cocktails at Marlow’s Tavern in Carrollwood. Cocktails change by the season, which is rather clever. Marlow’s is an Atlanta-based chain.
Photo by Geneva Johnson

The Three Hour Tour and the Nice Pear . . . Manhattan are two of the inventive cocktails at Marlow’s Tavern in Carrollwood. Cocktails change by the season, which is rather clever. Marlow’s is an Atlanta-based chain. Photo by Geneva Johnson

Boy, is my timing off lately. I heard that Marlow's Tavern — an Atlanta-based chain restaurant with a Carrollwood location — made some unique cocktails, but I visited only to learn that the cocktail menu is seasonal and will change to a new one next week.

That's okay, after trying selections from the soon-to-be-replaced fall/winter menu, it's a safe bet that the new stuff is worth a try, too.

Marlow's Tavern is a large-ish chain, with 17 locations in Georgia and five in Florida. It's a casual neighborhood spot that covers all the bases but doesn't stand out in any particular way: low-key lighting, brick walls, a few TVs inconspicuously scattered throughout and a cutaway at the back of the bar, looking out onto the back patio, which regularly features live music.

The service is extremely friendly. Our bartender introduced herself with a handshake and left a little name card on the bar so we could easily get her attention if we needed anything. I got the impression that this place has a lot of Carrollwood regulars, and I can see why.

Casual-concept chain restaurants typically follow the something-for-everyone model, so it's no surprise that the menu is highly varied. Marlow's throws in a little extra flair in this department, serving dishes that are familiar but clearly spruced up from the common versions.

For example, a guest at the bar ordered the hummus plate, which is usually a humble affair involving hummus, pita and maybe some carrot and celery sticks. This one came with sunflower and pumpkin seeds on top, with dipping vehicles ranging from the usual ingredients, as well as radishes and pickled okra. Pickled okra? You've got my attention.

Ditto for the drink list. There's a large beer selection — nearly 50. The eight draft selections are typical, but there are three rotating craft/local selections among them, supported by another 40 or so in cans and bottles. Some are brews that I don't see often around town, like Miami Brewing's excellent Big Rod coconut blonde ale.

Then there's the wine list, which divides a solid 30-odd wines into flavor categories such as "rich, creamy and voluptuous" and includes vintages for most options. All but one (Veuve Clicquot) is available by the glass, as well. Good prices, too.

On to that cocktail list. This is a really nice list of drinks, on par with what you'd find at a not-so-casual cocktail spot. The drinks themselves are generally familiar, but with ambitious twists to make them legitimate Marlow's originals.

For example, the Nice Pear… Manhattan starts with a High West Double Rye base, subbing Cardamaro (an Italian amaro flavored with cardoon, blessed thistle and other ingredients that I have never heard of) for vermouth before finishing with some St. George Spiced Pear liqueur and Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters.

Then there's a Blood Orange Margarita, as well as a New Fashioned featuring Giffard banana liqueur, of all things, alongside its Belle Meade bourbon base. It's creative stuff, and the results are confirmed delicious.

Many of the cocktails are house creations, like the Three Hour Tour (cue the theme song), featuring Clément Select Barrel rhum agricole, Cooper's Craft bourbon, Velvet Falernum and fresh lime. The addition of bourbon is a unique spin for a tiki drink, but this one drinks as strong, tropical and exotically spiced as the best of them. Bonus points are awarded for the ceramic tiki mug, of which I'll never tire.

The upcoming spring/summer drink list include the Pom Collins, a blackberry mojito and an Old Forester-based Southern Charmer.

On cocktails alone, I think Marlow's is well worth a visit. These are real craft cocktails, and that's not just because the word "craft" is used on the menu. The fact that the food and beer/wine menus are also above-average is a bonus. If you're in the market for familiar-yet-unique, then you'll want to give Marlow's a shot.

—; follow @WordsWithJG

Marlow's Tavern

13134 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa; (813) 513-8899;

The vibe: A casual neighborhood restaurant with an inventive seasonal cocktail menu.

Food: Appetizers and salads, $4.50 to $13.50; entrees, $9 to $20.

Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $2.50 to $7; wine, $6.50 to $15 by the glass and $28 to $89 by the bottle; liquor, $6 to $12.

Specialty: There's lots to choose from, including nearly 50 beers and more than 30 wines (by the glass and bottle), but I'd recommend taking a look at the cocktail list, which features about a dozen in-house creations, some of which are seasonally rotating. Current standouts that will remain on the spring/summer seasonal menu include the Nice Pear … Manhattan and the Three Hour Tour.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Bar review: Cool cocktails done right at Marlow's Tavern in Tampa 04/13/17 [Last modified: Thursday, April 13, 2017 8:25am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Glen Campbell's wife Kim discusses challenges, guilt caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, others face

    Life Times

    If there's one thing Kim Campbell would change about caregiving for Alzheimer's patients, it's the attitude so many of us have toward transferring a loved one from home to a long-term care facility. According to Campbell, it's often the most kind, loving decision you can make. It's not a sign of failure, but one of …

    Kim Campbell, wife of country music legend Glen Campbell, is acknowledged by those attending the free event where she shared the story of her personal journey with Alzheimer???‚??„?s disease and the struggles she faced caring for her husband on Friday (5/26/17) at the Suncoast Hospice's Empath Health Service Center in Clearwater. Empath Choices for Care, a member of Empath Health, and Arden Courts Memory Care hosted the free event where Kim shared her story to help others understand the early stages, how the disease changes lives, the challenges families face and the role of caregiver.
  2. What happened when I took my dad to a Pitbull concert

    Music & Concerts

    TAMPA — "So, you know how you like Pitbull?" I asked my dad. "We can see him."

    Selfie of Divya Kumar and Anand Kumar at Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias concert.
  3. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador


    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 25


    St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue's Grand Central District with more than 350 vendors, multiple stages, live music, art and food. 9 a.m., Grand Central District, 2429 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 342-0084.

    Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24


    St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride's popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg's scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:45 p.m. 2 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth …

    Thousands line the streets of Central Ave. during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg.  [Saturday, June 25, 2016] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]