I'm not a big happy hour guy, but I am a fan of bold claims, so I had to check out Blind Goat Food & Drink Co. when I saw it advertising "South Tampa's best happy hour."
Come to think of it, that may not be too tall of an order. There are some decent specials to be found in South Tampa, but the bars trend higher on the price scale to begin with, so happy hour is often more of a reasonably priced hour. It's the kind of claim that gets people in the door, though.
The Blind Goat is named after the "blind pigs" and "blind tigers" that were used to describe speakeasies during Prohibition, and although it advertises Prohibition-style drinks, it's very much a modern neighborhood bar.
The bar is decorated with a variety of quirky local art, including, naturally, several metal sculptures of goats. It's a compact, two-room deal, with a small bar space and even smaller bar proper, neighbored by a larger dining area — a small kitchen serves simple bar food like salads and flatbreads. There's a side patio with a couple of high tops and a scaled-down version of horseshoes played with metal washers, as well as — strangely enough — an outdoor pool table.
The Palma Ceia neighborhood needed a solid, go-to neighborhood bar. Blind Goat has become that bar in the past year or two, as evidenced by the fact that it can be surprisingly tough to order a drink at the crowded bar, even on weekdays, and well past happy hour.
Speaking of happy hour, this seems to be a case of honest advertising. While it's an entirely typical Monday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m. kind of deal, the prices are legitimately cheap and are not limited to the least desirable drinks. You're looking at $3 premium wells, $4 craft drafts, $5 house wines and cocktails, as well as $5 food specials.
There's even a late-night happy hour on the weekends, with additional drink specials after 10. And weekends feature some good ol' day-drinking specials: all-you-can-drink Bloody Marys, mimosas and Shock Top tallboys for $15 from noon to 4 p.m.
Better yet, there are daily specials that last all day, such as a different $5 cocktail available each weekday, as well as my new favorite — a 96-ounce Moscow mule served in a comically large dimpled copper mug, discounted on Tuesdays from its normal $45 to only $30. It's obviously meant for sharing, but the bartender told me that she's seen a guy go solo on one before. Hats off.
The drinks are solid, too. The beer selection is pretty small, but there are always some good rotating draft options. When I visited, Sarasota's Darwin Brewing Co. was featured in a tap takeover, with four of its beers available, take-home Darwin pint glass included. There's a good wine selection, including house-branded Blind Goat wines — apparently made in Florida, but I was unable to get a definitive word on the actual source — served on tap.
The liquor selection is on-point, with the aforementioned "premium wells" priced at a wholly reasonable $5 each. What constitutes a premium well, you may wonder? Surprisingly good stuff, like Four Roses bourbon. That's a bargain any time. It's no wonder that this place is happening.
The cocktail list does feature some popular Prohibition-era cocktails, like the Moscow mule (also available in smaller sizes) and mint julep, along with some twists on old classics, like a cilantro-jalapeño margarita, a cucumber "vojito" (like a mojito, but with cucumber vodka) and a spin on the gimlet featuring Ty Ky cucumber sake in place of gin.
In keeping with the Blind Goat's occasional over-the-top tendencies, there's also a drink called the Goat Punch, which is limited to two per person because it's preposterously strong. I couldn't tell you what's in it — "secret house recipe" — but there's definitely pineapple juice involved, and a friend thought it tasted like Fruity Pebbles cereal. In a good way.
You know, the Blind Goat may very well have the best happy hour in South Tampa. There are a heck of a lot of excellent specials for the happy hour crowd, late-nighters and weekend daytime drinkers alike.
Cheap drinks will only get you so far, which is why it's also good that the Blind Goat is a fun, laid-back spot. Some folks undoubtedly show up for happy hour, but there's plenty to stick around for afterward, and that's good news for Palma Ceia locals, as well as any other thirsty South Tampa folks looking for some bona fide booze bargains.
Contact Justin Grant at [email protected] Follow @WordsWithJG.