Usually, when I have trouble thinking of things to write about a bar after visiting, that's bad. In some cases, however, having few things to say can be a good thing.
The Blue Goose fits into this latter category. Opened earlier this year in downtown St. Petersburg's up-and-coming EDGE District, the Blue Goose is a bar that can be summed up rather concisely: It's a roomy, vaguely industrial cocktail bar that has a few pool tables.
This is why it works. It's not a flashy bar, or a rowdy one, and the drink selection is to the point. The Blue Goose was originally conceived as a whiskey bar, so there's a substantial selection of bourbon, rye, Canadian and scotch; other than that, there's nothing remarkable about the booze list. There are only five beers on draft — all from Florida — and the bottle list is brief enough to comfortably fit on a small chalkboard above the bar.
There are four house cocktails listed on another chalkboard, all fruit-driven and constructed with fresh muddled/juiced/squeezed ingredients. Some involve infused syrups: basil syrup in the Strawberry Gin Smash, jalapeno syrup in the Spicy Watermelon Cooler, and lavender syrup in the Lavender Lemonade. Behind this chalkboard is a drably painted wall, cleverly distressed to expose patches of brickwork behind it.
The rough, unpolished look continues throughout the spacious, high-ceilinged lounge. Wood furniture is finished with a dark stain, former church pews are transformed into booth benches, and three red-felted pool tables are illuminated by Edison bulbs attached to heavy iron pipes.
There are some visual flourishes that stand out from the otherwise low-key environment: A couple of flat screens above the bar are by far the brightest light sources inside the Blue Goose, and, unpleasantly, there are various dead and taxidermied animals on display.
If I've downplayed the place a bit, it's only to show how effective the simple approach can be. This cocktail bar will be making repeat appearances in my rotation, for a few specific reasons.
For one, that whiskey selection. While the proprietors of the Blue Goose may have shied away from their original whiskey bar plans, it's still one of the best spots in town to drink whiskey. It's got variety, and it's got the right atmosphere.
Then there's the pool. On Sundays, the game is free, and on Thursdays, there's a $5 tournament that awards a bar tab. The tables are clean, the cues are all in good shape, and there's plenty of room. Lots of bars have pool, but not many have good pool.
Finally, there are the drink specials. These are simple and good: $2 wells on Monday, $4 Mules on Tuesday, $5 shot-and-a-washes on Thursday, and $3 and $5 select cocktails on Sunday and Wednesday, respectively. It's easy to try something new, for cheap, each time you go. On the Sunday I visited, the drink special was a $3 rosemary lemonade. I liked it better than the lavender version.
I guess I had more to say about the Blue Goose than I initially thought. That's the strength of a clean, no-frills place like this. All it has to offer is a handful of solid drinks and an attractive lounge to consume them in. More often than not, that's all I want.
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Contact Justin Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @WordsWithJG.