The main selling point of nearly every Clearwater Beach bar seems to be views of the sunset. Maybe that stretch of beach is particularly picturesque compared to other area beaches as the sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico, or maybe it's just become such a well-known destination over time that attracting hordes of sunwatchers is a given.
Whatever the reason, many Clearwater Beach bars are built almost entirely around the premise of having a nice spot to watch the sun goes down, cocktail in hand, gulf breeze in the air. I'd go as far to say that many of these bars are somewhat interchangeable.
However, the Pier House 60 Marina Hotel has taken this concept to another level — literally — with its rooftop bar, Jimmy's Crow's Nest. Jimmy's is a modestly sized island bar perched on Pier House 60's 10th floor outdoor courtyard, with sweeping, panoramic views of Pier 60, the Gulf and the surrounding beach area. If you want to see the sunset, you will see all of it at Jimmy's.
That's great, but frankly, I'm not really sure how much more I can say about great rooftop views of the sunset. You're high up, you can see a wide stretch of the beach and sea, and it's all very nice.
What I found more interesting is the appeal that Jimmy's has for those times when it's a little less than sunny and warm outside. Let's be honest: the flip-flop and swimsuit vibe at traditional beach bars suffers when it's jacket weather out.
Due to its unique position, Jimmy's works just as well as a laid-back party spot on cool nights, only really missing a step on rainy days, forcing the bar to open later in the afternoon. In fact, I think I'd much rather visit on a cool night with a light jacket, to enjoy the night air and a great view of the surrounding tourism district.
The layout is really simple. Park in the hotel garage, take the elevator (or stairs, if you need some exercise) up to the 10th floor, and walk outside. The entire courtyard is Jimmy's, with a bar and balcony seating to the left, and a larger, café seating area that doubles as an impromptu dance floor on the right. If you do happen to visit during the day, there's one of those quarter-fed binocular machines, but I would not recommend using it to look directly at the sun as it sets.
The wall opposite the bar end of the courtyard is reserved for gigantic television projections. Jimmy's Facebook page mentions that it's the "best place to watch night games," and I think I'd have to agree. I'm not even a sports fan, but I could watch a game on a projection the size of a movie screen while enjoying some sort of fruity tropical drink in the cool, Florida evening breeze.
Speaking of drinks, this place is mainly a cocktail bar. The beer selection is pretty limited, but there are a few good craft options, such as Cigar City Jai Alai, Tampa Bay Brewing Company Old Elephant Foot, New Belgium Fat Tire and Kona Longboard. A cool touch: All the beers served at Jimmy's are in cans. There is a modest wine list as well, including bottles of Dom, in case you really want to make it a big night out.
The rest of the cocktails are the typical beach-bar kind: fruit-dense tropical concoctions with an ingredient list a paragraph long. I ordered a Nesterita and was somewhat disappointed when my drink came in a plain plastic cup with a $13 price tag, but after one sip I understood. This thing tasted pretty good, but it was strong. These drinks are sippers, I assure you.
There's no doubt that Jimmy's Crows Nest is a great destination spot for watching the sunset. But if the weather is less than beachy, or the sun has already set, it still has a lot to offer, from crazy-strong cocktails to live music and DJs to sports projected on an area so large it could double as a lighthouse. And that 10th-floor view is hard to beat.