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Ultimate quest takes tbt* to unique Tampa Bay bars

The author’s quest for a tiki bar led him to his favorite local lounge, Zom Hee Chinese Restaurant in Seminole. This Instagram, like so many others, was tagged #tampabaydrinks.

The author’s quest for a tiki bar led him to his favorite local lounge, Zom Hee Chinese Restaurant in Seminole. This Instagram, like so many others, was tagged #tampabaydrinks.

Two years ago, I introduced tbt*'s annual Ultimate Bar Guide with a simple question: Why do we drink?

This year, I'd like to amend that question. Today, I'm wondering: Why do we go to bars?

Because let's face it, "drinking" and "going to bars" are not necessarily synonymous. You can drink alone at home (always a fun time!), but in choosing to go out to a bar, you invariably want something more. You want a great beer selection, a professionally made cocktail, a dynamic atmosphere, a fun place to meet friends, a bite or two of food you can't make yourself. Whether you realize it or not, you're on a quest — a mission to find the perfect drink in the perfect bar with the perfect people. You know exactly what you want, and you'll gladly pay to get it.

So for this year's Ultimate Bar Guide, we found inspiration in specific, bar-related quests. Who makes the area's ultimate gin and tonic? Who has the best late-night grub? Where can I play some decent pinball? What's the most sophisticated bar in Pinellas Park?

Some of our quests were more personal. Robbyn Mitchell set out to find her own personal Cheers, a bar where she could see herself becoming a regular. Joshua Gillin can't stand IPAs, so he hit craft beer bars in search of one he could stand. Tbt*'s resident barfly Justin Grant — a part-time DJ who used to sing in a metal band — became fascinated with country bars, and wanted in on the action. Me? I was desperate to find an authentic tiki bar (they're different from beach bars, dammit!) somewhere in Tampa Bay.

These curious quests led us to see the local drinking scene through fresh beer goggles. Instead of writing about the same old bars, year after year, we visited some new, strange and fascinating places some of us never knew existed That's what a good quest should do, right?

In fact, we had so much fun with this year's Bar Guide that we're launching a new feature with a similar agenda. We're calling it "The Quest." Every week, we'll pick a drink, a food, a shopping item, an activity — basically, whatever we're craving at any given moment — and track down places that do it up right. We'll roll it out next week. If you've got an idea for a Quest, send it to tbteditors@tampabay.com with "QUEST" in the subject line.

In the meantime, we hope you use this year's Ultimate Bar Guide as a road map to a quest of your own. Maybe some of what you read will inspire you to get out and drink someplace new.

That's what we did, and we loved every tipsy minute of it. — cridlin@tampabay.com

Two years ago, I introduced tbt*'s annual Ultimate Bar Guide with a simple question: Why do we drink?

This year, I'd like to amend that question. Today, I'm wondering: Why do we go to bars?

Because let's face it, "drinking" and "going to bars" are not necessarily synonymous. You can drink alone at home (always a fun time!), but in choosing to go out to a bar, you invariably want something more. You want a great beer selection, a professionally made cocktail, a dynamic atmosphere, a fun place to meet friends, a bite or two of food you can't make yourself. Whether you realize it or not, you're on a quest — a mission to find the perfect drink in the perfect bar with the perfect people. You know exactly what you want, and you'll gladly pay to get it.

So for this year's Ultimate Bar Guide, we found inspiration in specific, bar-related quests. Who makes the area's ultimate gin and tonic? Who has the best late-night grub? Where can I play some decent pinball? What's the most sophisticated bar in Pinellas Park?

Some of our quests were more personal. Robbyn Mitchell set out to find her own personal Cheers, a bar where she could see herself becoming a regular. Joshua Gillin can't stand IPAs, so he hit craft beer bars in search of one he could stand. Tbt*'s resident barfly Justin Grant — a part-time DJ who used to sing in a metal band — became fascinated with country bars, and wanted in on the action. Me? I was desperate to find an authentic tiki bar (they're different from beach bars, dammit!) somewhere in Tampa Bay.

These curious quests led us to see the local drinking scene through fresh beer goggles. Instead of writing about the same old bars, year after year, we visited some new, strange and fascinating places some of us never knew existed That's what a good quest should do, right?

In fact, we had so much fun with this year's Bar Guide that we're launching a new feature with a similar agenda. We're calling it "The Quest." Every week, we'll pick a drink, a food, a shopping item, an activity — basically, whatever we're craving at any given moment — and track down places that do it up right. We'll roll it out next week. If you've got an idea for a Quest, send it to tbteditors@tampabay.com with "QUEST" in the subject line.

In the meantime, we hope you use this year's Ultimate Bar Guide as a road map to a quest of your own. Maybe some of what you read will inspire you to get out and drink someplace new.

That's what we did, and we loved every tipsy minute of it. — cridlin@tampabay.com

Two years ago, I introduced tbt*'s annual Ultimate Bar Guide with a simple question: Why do we drink?

This year, I'd like to amend that question. Today, I'm wondering: Why do we go to bars?

Because let's face it, "drinking" and "going to bars" are not necessarily synonymous. You can drink alone at home (always a fun time!), but in choosing to go out to a bar, you invariably want something more. You want a great beer selection, a professionally made cocktail, a dynamic atmosphere, a fun place to meet friends, a bite or two of food you can't make yourself. Whether you realize it or not, you're on a quest — a mission to find the perfect drink in the perfect bar with the perfect people. You know exactly what you want, and you'll gladly pay to get it.

So for this year's Ultimate Bar Guide, we found inspiration in specific, bar-related quests. Who makes the area's ultimate gin and tonic? Who has the best late-night grub? Where can I play some decent pinball? What's the most sophisticated bar in Pinellas Park?

Some of our quests were more personal. Robbyn Mitchell set out to find her own personal Cheers, a bar where she could see herself becoming a regular. Joshua Gillin can't stand IPAs, so he hit craft beer bars in search of one he could stand. Tbt*'s resident barfly Justin Grant — a part-time DJ who used to sing in a metal band — became fascinated with country bars, and wanted in on the action. Me? I was desperate to find an authentic tiki bar (they're different from beach bars, dammit!) somewhere in Tampa Bay.

These curious quests led us to see the local drinking scene through fresh beer goggles. Instead of writing about the same old bars, year after year, we visited some new, strange and fascinating places some of us never knew existed That's what a good quest should do, right?

In fact, we had so much fun with this year's Bar Guide that we're launching a new feature with a similar agenda. We're calling it "The Quest." Every week, we'll pick a drink, a food, a shopping item, an activity — basically, whatever we're craving at any given moment — and track down places that do it up right. We'll roll it out next week. If you've got an idea for a Quest, send it to tbteditors@tampabay.com with "QUEST" in the subject line.

In the meantime, we hope you use this year's Ultimate Bar Guide as a road map to a quest of your own. Maybe some of what you read will inspire you to get out and drink someplace new.

That's what we did, and we loved every tipsy minute of it. — cridlin@tampabay.com

This year's Ultimate Bars

HILLSBOROUGH

Amphitheatre 48

Anchor Bar 67

Anise Global Gastrobar 28

Bar Louie 33

Bernini 43

Bilmar Station 69

Brick House Tavern and Tap 50

The Bricks 48

Cheap 69

Cigar Castle 43

Cigar City Brewing 69

Cigar City Brewpub 28

Ciro's Speakeasy 28

Dallas Bull 38, 69

Datz 54

The Dubliner 69

Edison Food + Drink Lab 64

Fly Bar and Restaurant 28, 70

Fuma Bella 36

The Golf Club 52

Green Lemon 40

Hattricks 70

Hogan's Beach 30

Hollywood Nites 48

Hula Bay Club 44, 70

The Independent 46

Irish 31 33, 70

James Joyce Irish Pub 40, 70

Linkster's Tap Room 70

The Lodge 50, 70

MacDinton's 70

Maggiano's Little Italy 36

Mellow Mushroom 50

Mermaid Tavern 40

Mise en Place 64

Molly Malone's 33

Mr. Dunderbak's 46-47, 72

New World Brewery 34

O'Brien's Irish Pub 72

Peabody's Billiards

and Games 43, 67

The Pub 36

The Rack 43

The Round Up 38

SideBern's 64

The Stein and Vine 67

Sunset Grill 73

Tahitian Inn 44

Tampa Tap Room 73

Taps Restaurant, Bar & Lounge 33

Tiny Tap 73

The Wine Exchange 33

PINELLAS

7venth Sun Brewery 47

The Ale and the Witch 59, 69

Bamboo Beach Bar 44

Blowfish Bar and Grill 67

The Broken Tusk 67

The Brown Boxer 67

Caddy's on the Beach 48

Cafe Ponte 64

Cajun Cafe on the Bayou 62

Canopy Rooftop Lounge

at the Birchwood 30

Capitol Beer House 69

CJ's on the Island 69

Copperheads Tap House 69

Crabby Bill's 69

Daiquiri Shak 30

Down the Hatch 52

Drifters Sports Pub 52

Dunedin House of Beer 47

Eddie's Bar & Grill 52

Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill 70

Freaki Tiki 70

Frenchy's Tiki Pavilion

at Bright House Field 43

Fubar 34, 70

Harry's Beach Bar 67

King Fish Grill and Tap House 50

Lagerhaus 46

The Living Room 40

Luekens Big Town Liquors 54

Mahuffer's Bar 44

Mandalay Grill 72

Mandarin Hide 54

Mugs 'N Jugs 34

Nickel City Bar & Grille 62, 72

Nolan's Pub 67

Octave 34

The One Night Stand 38

Palm Harbor House of Beer 52, 67

PCI Bar 72

Rapp Brewing Company 47, 62

Sake Bomb 50

Saint Somewhere Brewing 46

Social 28, 73

Stirling Tropical Wines 30

Tarpon Tavern 67

Three Birds Tavern 50

Tryst 73

The Undertow 48

Waterin' Trough 38

Willard's Tap House 59, 73

Wilson's Sports Lounge 48

Zom Hee Chinese Restaurant 44

BOTH/BEYOND

Bahi Hut 44

BJ's Restaurant

and Brewhouse 62

Boots N Buckles Saloon 69

P.F. Chang's 36

Rumba Island Bar and Grill 41

Trader Vic's Island Bar and Grill 44

World of Beer 59

Still thirsty?

Check out all our bar coverage, including openings, closings and weekly reviews, at tampabay.com/bars. And if you're into craft beer, check out tampabay.com/beer for all our craft beer coverage, including a map and photo galleries of local breweries, plus columns and a Craft Beer 101 video from our resident barfly, Justin Grant. Join in on the fun by hashtagging your Twitter and Instagram photos #tampabaydrinks. And check out a series of videos inspired by this year's Ultimate Bar Guide, as our Things to Do crew of Michelle Stark and Katie Manfred visited bars all over town.

Enhance your experience

Throughout this issue, you'll see this little dude, who we call Augie. His job? Turn this issue into a multisensory, multimedia experience. Here's how he works:

1. Head to your favorite app store and download a free app called Layar. Or scan the QR code below with your smartphone and go straight there.

2. Any time you see Augie, scan the page with your Layar app. Videos, photos and more surprises from this year's Ultimate Bars will magically appear on your phone.

3. Try it out now! Scan this page to see a video featuring some of your best #tampabaydrinks photos!

 

This year's Ultimate Bars

HILLSBOROUGH

Amphitheatre 48

Anchor Bar 67

Anise Global Gastrobar 28

Bar Louie 33

Bernini 43

Bilmar Station 69

Brick House Tavern and Tap 50

The Bricks 48

Cheap 69

Cigar Castle 43

Cigar City Brewing 69

Cigar City Brewpub 28

Ciro's Speakeasy 28

Dallas Bull 38, 69

Datz 54

The Dubliner 69

Edison Food + Drink Lab 64

Fly Bar and Restaurant 28, 70

Fuma Bella 36

The Golf Club 52

Green Lemon 40

Hattricks 70

Hogan's Beach 30

Hollywood Nites 48

Hula Bay Club 44, 70

The Independent 46

Irish 31 33, 70

James Joyce Irish Pub 40, 70

Linkster's Tap Room 70

The Lodge 50, 70

MacDinton's 70

Maggiano's Little Italy 36

Mellow Mushroom 50

Mermaid Tavern 40

Mise en Place 64

Molly Malone's 33

Mr. Dunderbak's 46-47, 72

New World Brewery 34

O'Brien's Irish Pub 72

Peabody's Billiards

and Games 43, 67

The Pub 36

The Rack 43

The Round Up 38

SideBern's 64

The Stein and Vine 67

Sunset Grill 73

Tahitian Inn 44

Tampa Tap Room 73

Taps Restaurant, Bar & Lounge 33

Tiny Tap 73

The Wine Exchange 33

PINELLAS

7venth Sun Brewery 47

The Ale and the Witch 59, 69

Bamboo Beach Bar 44

Blowfish Bar and Grill 67

The Broken Tusk 67

The Brown Boxer 67

Caddy's on the Beach 48

Cafe Ponte 64

Cajun Cafe on the Bayou 62

Canopy Rooftop Lounge

at the Birchwood 30

Capitol Beer House 69

CJ's on the Island 69

Copperheads Tap House 69

Crabby Bill's 69

Daiquiri Shak 30

Down the Hatch 52

Drifters Sports Pub 52

Dunedin House of Beer 47

Eddie's Bar & Grill 52

Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill 70

Freaki Tiki 70

Frenchy's Tiki Pavilion

at Bright House Field 43

Fubar 34, 70

Harry's Beach Bar 67

King Fish Grill and Tap House 50

Lagerhaus 46

The Living Room 40

Luekens Big Town Liquors 54

Mahuffer's Bar 44

Mandalay Grill 72

Mandarin Hide 54

Mugs 'N Jugs 34

Nickel City Bar & Grille 62, 72

Nolan's Pub 67

Octave 34

The One Night Stand 38

Palm Harbor House of Beer 52, 67

PCI Bar 72

Rapp Brewing Company 47, 62

Sake Bomb 50

Saint Somewhere Brewing 46

Social 28, 73

Stirling Tropical Wines 30

Tarpon Tavern 67

Three Birds Tavern 50

Tryst 73

The Undertow 48

Waterin' Trough 38

Willard's Tap House 59, 73

Wilson's Sports Lounge 48

Zom Hee Chinese Restaurant 44

BOTH/BEYOND

Bahi Hut 44

BJ's Restaurant

and Brewhouse 62

Boots N Buckles Saloon 69

P.F. Chang's 36

Rumba Island Bar and Grill 41

Trader Vic's Island Bar and Grill 44

World of Beer 59

Ultimate quest takes tbt* to unique Tampa Bay bars 08/23/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 11:56am]

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