It’s tough to imagine a more idyllic setting for a bar and restaurant than Key West, but if you’re going to relocate, as the owners of The Bier Boutique recently did, then setting up shop overlooking a scenic lake in a quiet neighborhood is not a bad way to go. The Bier Boutique is located in a former garage at the base of an apartment complex overlooking Round Lake, with its assortment of sunbathing birds and an a sprawling banyan tree.
The Bier Boutique is relatively small, yet there’s a full kitchen serving comfort food — vegetarian options are forthcoming — and a full bar with an excellent beer and wine list, as well as some top-shelf spirits and house cocktails.
The interior is funky and colorful, with orange metal chairs contrasting with natural wood, faux foliage and diamond patterns covering the bar area. There’s a mix of communal seating, booths and small tables surrounding the bar, which looks out to a shaded patio through roll-up shutter windows.
I noticed a few surprises on the beer list. Naturally, there are a lot of locals represented as well as some well-selected domestic brews.
But the import list stands out, featuring bottles of classic German brews like Schneider Weisse, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier and Reissdorf Kölsch, and iconic Belgain brews like Orval, Rochefort 10 and Gulden Draake. On tap: Petrus 50/50 and Boon Gueuze, two Belgian sour ales not commonly seen on local tap lists.
The bar even stocks Baltika #9 Extra, a strong lager brewed in the other St. Petersburg. Where else will you find that?
There are five house wines available by the glass, and the remaining nine featured wines are available by either the glass or by the half bottle, which is a nice option.
I wasn’t expecting much outside of the beer menu, but the liquor selection is on point, with a small but smartly selected lineup of premium spirits. For example, there are five scotch whiskies represented, but the only predictable pick is Macallan 12, which nonetheless belongs in any collection. Another Highland single malt comes by way of Glenfarclas, with Glenrothes representing the Speyside region, Caol Ila for Islay and even Glen Scotia for Campbeltown. It’s not a default list by any means, and the same can be said for the bar’s bourbon, rum, tequila, gin and vodka picks. Considering there are only around 20 spirits to choose from, that’s a commendable quality.
The cocktails, then, are unsurprisingly good. The six house cocktails are all suitable for some daytime porch sipping, a clear strength of The Bier Boutique.
There’s a Hot Paloma, which amps up a Corralejo-based version of the tequila-grapefruit soda classic with jalapeño-infused simple syrup and a Rye Old Fashioned, which uses Templeton four-year rye as a base supported by chocolate bitters, Luxardo cherries and caramelized orange.
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There are some more original creations, too, like The Matador, which combines Old St. Pete Corn Whiskey with Thatcher’s elderflower liqueur, orange bitters and club soda, garnished with candied ginger. The Lemoncello Splash boosts a serving of Wheatley vodka with sweet-sour limoncello liqueur and fresh-squeezed lemon, rounding it out with a splash of ginger beer.
The best one, bar none: the dead-simple Coconut Rum Refresher. It’s Koloa dark rum from Hawaii mixed with a little bit of pineapple juice and cooled with ice cubes made from coconut water. The drink sweetens and becomes more coconut-forward as it melts into a satisfying, tropical treat.
There’s no question that The Bier Boutique will quickly establish itself as a neighborhood favorite, but there are plentiful reasons to visit even if you don’t live down the block. On beer selection alone, The Bier Boutique lives up to its name, but the spirit and cocktail selection really seals the deal.
Justin Grant is a tbt* correspondent. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bier Boutique
476 7th Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 827-2691; facebook.com/thebierboutique
The vibe: A cozy neighborhood bar and restaurant.
Food: Appetizers, soups and salads, $6-$12; entrees, $10-$15; desserts, $5.
Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $4-$15; wine, $6-$17 by the glass and $15-$30 by the half-bottle; liquor, $6-$12. Happy hour is from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, featuring $2 off all drinks.
Specialty: It’s not just a name — The Bier Boutique stocks a few dozen local, domestic and international beers on draft and in bottles and cans, including a few surprises, like Gueuze Boon and Petrus 50/50, which are both uncommon draft finds. Check out the house cocktail list for some truly refreshing creations, like the Coconut Rum Refresher, made with Koloa Hawaiian dark rum, a splash of pineapple juice and ice cubes made from coconut water.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.