I'm no cowboy. Aside from some Western-style shirts and a mild urge to buy a pair of boots that's consistently shot down by my girlfriend, the closest I get to a life on the range is selecting Thin Lizzy's Cowboy Song from a TouchTunes jukebox.
So the fact that I really like the idea of a cowboy bar is a bit of a mystery to me. The classic, roadhouse vibe; country music blaring from the stage; line dancing; beer and whiskey aplenty; sometimes even the classic mechanical bull, for an added touch of novelty.
These are a few of the things you'd expect to find in a good cowboy bar — or a country bar, which is what the term mostly represents these days — and they happen to also be a few of the things that you'll find at St. Pete's newest, and only, cowboy bar: The One Night Stand.
As the name implies, One Night Stand adds a touch of wink-wink naughtiness to an otherwise classic country bar setting, featuring innuendo galore, along with a bar staff that — despite being competent and professional — were not likely hired on skill alone. This theme's resonated with the city folk, making the One Night Stand a popular watering hole in the 21/2 months it's been open.
While country bars have traditionally been the domain of rough-and-tumble working class Southerners who like drinking whiskey, shooting pool and breaking chairs over each other's backs (unless the movies have lied to me), One Night Stand clearly caters to a 20- and 30-something crowd, which is not much of a surprise considering that it replaced former tenant Durty Nelly's, a popular Irish bar known for its huge crowds and wild nights.
That's not to say that shooting pool and drinking whiskey doesn't remain a prime directive at One Nigh Stand; but the crowd seems more interested in strapping friends into the "shot chair," where a bartender will pour a shot of their choice into their mouths for five seconds at a cost of $5, or crowding around the mechanical bull, "Mustache" (get it?), to watch the latest contender compete for a chance to win a monthly $100 bar tab.
The place is roomy, with a small pool table and arcade area in the back sandwiched between a medium-sized main bar and a separate "speed bar" that serves drinks with less crowding and lower wait times. The opposite side is home to the bull, which faces the plate-glass windows between the entrances, where bystanders often stop to watch the alarmingly anatomically correct bull throw people from its back as they head toward Central Avenue.
The rest of One Night Stand is wide open, with a spacious dance floor in front of a high stage, Jack Daniels barrels lined around the perimeter in place of high-tops, and large, all-wood booths on the side wall. When I went to sit my drink down on the booth table, I realized there are no soggy coasters anywhere — a staff member simply comes and wipes down the tables every few minutes.
This is definitely a beer-and-whiskey joint. Far from being devoid of options, however, you'll find a long list of creative cocktails, shots and "bombs," and there are even a few craft beer options, such as — yep — Tampa Bay Brewing Company's One Night Stand Pale Ale. The drinks are strong and reasonably priced, especially during the various weekly specials, where deals as ridiculous as $3 pitchers and 2-for-1 specialty cocktails (making them $4 each) can be found. And a shot of Jack with your PBR? $5 all day, every day.
A cowboy bar in St. Pete that has restroom attendants, doesn't allow smoking inside and caters primarily to the younger, downtown crowd may seem like a sanitized and boring version of a classic bar archetype, but that's not the case with One Night Stand, a fun and well-designed bar with lots to offer. I'll be back to shoot some pool, listen to some country music, and take a ride on Mustache.