Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Bars & Spirits

Bar review: Dog Bar in St. Petersburg serves you while pups play

RECOMMENDED READING


If you have kids, I'm sure you've noticed that theme parks and amusements centers invariably serve alcohol. Have you ever had a pitcher of beer at Chuck E. Cheese's? I have, and I don't have kids. Long story.

My girlfriend and I do have a dog, though. Every once in a while we drag him out to a bar, which is exciting to him for approximately 10 minutes, after which he remains in a near-comatose state of boredom for the duration. It reminds me of a particularly dreadful bring-your-kid-to-work-day that I went to with my dad, which — if my childhood memory is accurate — involved him soldering something in silence for 16 hours straight.

Dexter would rather be in a dog park, but I'd rather be drinking beer that doesn't have to be wrapped in a paper bag. Lo and behold, a solution has come to St. Petersburg, unambiguously named: The Dog Bar.

If, like me, you assumed The Dog Bar was just a particularly dog-friendly bar, you'd be half-correct. The Dog Bar is dog-friendly in the way that Chuck E. Cheese's is kid-friendly — it's really for them, but there's booze to fuel the adults while the little ones run wild.

The Dog Bar has done one better by making its bar substantially pleasant, with enough amenities to make it appealing even to the dogless.

The Dog Bar is huge — much bigger than it looks from the street. Built into an old auto-body shop, the orange and green interior of the Dog Bar has a very open feel, thanks to a row of open roller shutters that keep things nice and airy. Around the central bar is what amounts to a large playplace for dogs. There are paintings everywhere; can you guess what they depict?

The entrance and exit to The Dog Bar is a two-stage, dog park kind of deal, which seems like a fanciful touch until you realize that no, this is actually serious. The main front patio, interior, and under-construction back patio are all strict leash zones; if you want to let your dog run free in the leash-free zone — which includes artificial turf, ramps and small bone-shaped swimming pools, if you can believe it — you'll need a copy of your dog's vaccination records and a membership ($40 a year for the first dog; $20 each for the rest).

The entire thing is on a 5,000-square-foot plot. I mentioned it before, but it's darn big, which is kind of a necessity when the plan is to fill the place with dogs and people alike. There's enough handmade wooden furniture (including a really cool booth/lounge area in the back) to seat dozens, and that doesn't even include the carabiners at the foot of the bar for hooking up a leash while you work on a pint.

Speaking of which, the drinking part of The Dog Bar is given the equal attention implied in the name. There are 24 beers on tap, including many local brews. For example, there's a tap for rotating "brewer's choice" selections from Clearwater's Sea Dog brewery. It was a honeydew Kölsch when I visited, though the selection changes, based on availability. Two additional taps hold cold-brew coffee on nitro from Tampa's Commune + Co., as well as a house-made Tito's Moscow Mule.

There are a couple of house wines, as well as a modest selection of spirits. Placards on the bar advertise house cocktails, but they're just the basic cocktail cards sent out by liquor distributors and not actual house drinks. I ordered one anyway: the Washington Apple, which differs from the classic shot in that it uses Crown Royal Apple instead of Crown plus DeKuyper, as well as being served on the rocks. Pretty tasty, actually, if you don't mind sweet drinks.

I've got to say, this is a brilliant concept. Next time we take the dog to a bar, why not make it a place where he can play with other dogs instead of just moping at the base of our bar stools? At $40 a year it's about $40 more expensive than just going to the regular dog park, but there's lots of beer at this one — and TVs and board games and … just sign me up already.

[email protected]; @WordsWithJG.

     
 
Comments
Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Thanksgiving can put a heavy burden on the host. We’ve assembled five appetizers that are quick and easy to prep. Some, like our risotto balls and goat-cheese figs, cater to vegetarian diets, so you can be sure to please all your guests. Even i...
Published: 11/21/17
Five ideas for cooking with fresh cranberries

Five ideas for cooking with fresh cranberries

Cranberry sauce has long been a fixture on the holiday table. According to the Chicago Tribune, Ocean Spray, the popular producer of cranberry sauce, cans about 70 million tins of the stuff a year, 85 percent of which gets sold between Thanksgiving a...
Published: 11/21/17
Tips for first-time Thanksgiving hosts (or really, any of us)

Tips for first-time Thanksgiving hosts (or really, any of us)

Take small bites.This may be the most crucial advice for Thanksgiving hosts who don’t have years of cooking and coordinating experience to provide the confidence that comes with leading the charge on the year’s biggest cooking day.It’s the first thin...
Published: 11/20/17
American wines red, white and sparkling for your Thanksgiving table

American wines red, white and sparkling for your Thanksgiving table

You’ve dusted off Grandma’s good crystal for the Thanksgiving table. Or you’ve pulled out all your mismatched stems to have enough for every place. Now what to pour?For this most American meal, based on foods native to America — turkey, pumpkin, corn...
Published: 11/20/17
How to make a pie from scratch: filling ideas, decorating tips, crust recipes and more

How to make a pie from scratch: filling ideas, decorating tips, crust recipes and more

Perfect your crust. Try new filling recipes. Learn some decorating tricks. And prepare for the biggest pie day of the year: Thanksgiving.   From apple to thyme You’ve got the crust down. Now it’s time to choose a filling for your holid...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/20/17
Thanksgiving 101: Everything you need to prepare for the big cooking day

Thanksgiving 101: Everything you need to prepare for the big cooking day

From appetizers to pies and everything in between, we’re here to help you put together a low-stress Thanksgiving spread. Here are a few ideas, and be sure to check out our Thanksgiving special report for more tips on preparing for the big day. ...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/20/17
Thanksgiving sides beyond the classics: corn casserole, Brussels sprouts salad, pecan pie carrots

Thanksgiving sides beyond the classics: corn casserole, Brussels sprouts salad, pecan pie carrots

There are probably a handful of essentials, things you must have on the Thanksgiving table lest some family members begin to riot. But I find there are often a couple of slots open for new things, chances to get weird or creative or, gasp, healthy. ...
Published: 11/17/17
How to make solid turkey gravy before Thanksgiving Day

How to make solid turkey gravy before Thanksgiving Day

As far as we’re concerned, anything you can make in advance of actual Thanksgiving Day is a good thing, and this make-ahead gravy fits the bill. Plus, Tucker Shaw of America’s Test Kitchen says it tastes just as good as if you made it wi...
Published: 11/17/17
How to plan your Thanksgiving menu

How to plan your Thanksgiving menu

Planning a really good menu is the stealth approach to being a really good cook. Here are some tips from the experts. New York Times Put some thought into the menu What leaves an impression is not only the dishes you can make, but also how they t...
Published: 11/17/17
Everything you need to know to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey

Everything you need to know to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey

The turkey is the unquestioned star of the Thanksgiving meal. It can be the most daunting part as well. But with a little planning and care, it doesn’t have to be.   Before you start • A decent roasting pan, one heavy enough that it wo...
Published: 11/16/17