Make us your home page

Bar review: Tiki drinks and much more at the Lure in downtown St. Petersburg

It used to be that on a typical Wednesday night, downtown St. Pete didn't have a lot going on. Many bars close early, and crowds generally gravitate toward a small handful of the same places.

After visiting the Lure last Wednesday, I realized that this is only true of the group of bars that I tend to frequent. Judging by the fact that there were no seats available at its long horseshoe bar and very few in the dining area (even though it was just an hour to closing time), I deduced that there was, in fact, a lot going on downtown — I just wasn't hip to it.

The Lure is a tough place to describe. It's a restaurant, bar and lounge, with two entrances along Central Avenue and various seating areas spread between the front sidewalk, a pool room and two dining areas divided by a row of birchwood.

The interior is drenched in color, from painted wood slats and brightly colored artwork to painted brick murals on the side walls. There's a light fixture shaped from antlers and a wall decorated with tree trunk cross-sections. Over red-felt pool tables hang old-fashioned Tiffany-style lamps.

In other words, the decor is all over the place, and not necessarily in a bad way. If anything, the interior design is a visual extension of the menu, which ranges from sushi to flatbreads to tacos. On the drink front, even more variety: tiki drinks, mules, sangrias, local beer, high-end Champagne, martinis and cocktails in pitchers are just some of the options.

The tiki drinks seemed to be a focal point of the menu, with the promise that they'll "knock you on your butt." I tried the Overcast Painkiller, which uses the Oak and Palm spiced rum from Old St. Pete Distillery in place of Pusser's, along with Créole Shrubb, pineapple juice, Coco Lopez, OJ, nutmeg and vanilla. The addition of Créole Shrubb and vanilla made for a nice twist on the classic, and indeed, it was noticeably strong and delicious. Bonus points for the heavy and ornate tiki glass — the bar stocks a variety of these kitschy drinking vessels.

On the lighter side of the spectrum was the Passion of Buddha, which uses rum from Sarasota's Siesta Key, combined with passionfruit nectar, simple syrup and ginger beer. Personally, I would leave out the simple, as the thick passionfruit nectar and ginger beer add more than enough sweetness to the already-sweet rum. It's a unique and tasty flavor combination, nonetheless, and the drink looks great served in a wide-mouthed coupe glass.

There's a lot of creativity in the Lure's drink menu. While you'll find the typical Moscow Mule, you'll also find a spin on it called the Maine Mule, with caramel and apple cider. And then there's the pop bottles section, which deals with drinks modeled after various childhood soft drinks. For example, the Fantasy Sunrise: a tequila sunrise that uses Fanta orange soda in place of orange juice.

I also found out why the place was packed to the gills on a Wednesday: All bottles of wine are half-off that night. Who can argue with a deal like that?

Before the Lure, the space was home to a rowdy karaoke bar and before that a dive-y Irish pub. Both businesses had regulars, but neither used the large, double-unit space to its full potential.

The Lure opened up the interior and made the whole space much more welcoming.

Of course, the Lure has been open more than a year at this point, so I'm pretty late to the game. It just wasn't that big of a blip on my radar. That goes to show that, if you only stick with what you know, you're liable to miss out.; @WordsWithJG

The Lure

661 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; (727) 914-8000;

The vibe: An eclectic and lively restaurant with an equally eclectic and lively drink menu.

Food: Sides and salads, $4 to $12; entrees, $9 to $14.

Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $3.50 to $6.50; wine, $6 to $11 by the glass and $24 to $70 by the bottle; liquor, $7 to $12.

Specialty: Like the food at the Lure, the house cocktails are all over the place, ranging from potent and elaborately presented tiki drinks to nostalgia-themed "pop bottles," featuring hard takes on youthful soft drinks. In the former category, try the St. Pete Sleaze, which features two rums from Old St. Pete Distillery.

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

Bar review: Tiki drinks and much more at the Lure in downtown St. Petersburg 04/06/17 [Last modified: Thursday, April 6, 2017 2:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Watch Round 3 of Feeding Tampa Bay's Epic Chef Showdown


    TAMPA — Round 3 of the third annual Epic Chef Showdown to benefit Feeding Tampa Bay is Monday night, and you can watch it live right here.

    Chef Richard Bergendale of The Mill restaurant and Sous Chef Jeff Thornsberry of Locale Market competed in Round 1 of the Epic Chef Showdown. [Epicurean Hotel / Feeding Tampa Bay]
  2. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride


    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  3. Restaurant review: Food and beer pair nicely at the Eatery at Brew Bus Terminal and Brewery

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA - Tampa Bay's craft beer scene is perennially in flux. New breweries open, others close or get scooped up by bigger breweries, some reinvent themselves so they can sell beer off site, and still others build on kitchens and add food to give enthusiasts another reason to sit tight.

    A Passion of the Heights hibiscus wheat ale is displayed at The Brew Bus in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Jul 19, 2017.  The Brew Bus Terminal, which houses a microbrewery and tasting room and serves as a hub for bus tours to local breweries, has opened an on-site kitchen called the Eatery. With the opening of the new casual dining concept, the brewery joins the ranks of microbreweries across the country that have asked that question: "What goes with beer? Hey, how about food?"
  4. Daniel Lipton resigns as artistic director of Opera Tampa


    TAMPA — Daniel Lipton has resigned as artistic director of Opera Tampa, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts announced.

    Daniel Lipton became the artistic director and conductor of Opera Tampa in 2012. Lipton replaced the opera's only previous director, Anton Coppola, who retired. [Times file (2012)]
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 25


    Shawn Mendes: The multi platinum-selling singer/songwriter embarks on his first-ever headlining arena word tour in support of his sophomore album Illuminate. Charlie Puth opens. 7:30 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $43.75-$63.75. (813) 301-2500.

    Shawn Mendes, performing at Amalie Arena on 7/25/17. Credit: James Minchin.