Cheers to my Sippin Gypsy Team Tequila! This post comes to you while enjoying my Jalapeno Margarita, one of my favorite items to order here in Orlando while sippin and strollin.
Ahhh Orlando. a city so full of options it will make you dizzy just trying to decide what to do. But be forewarned, this city had a lot of high traffic tourist destinations with bartenders that are instructed to use pre made mixes to ensure every cocktail comes out exactly the same, and their employers profits are protected down to the last drop. But get to know your bartenders, even if stuck at a tourist resort, many of the fine ladies and gentlemen employed to those bars have a passion for the cocktail and may have a trick or two up their sleeve for creating something special for you and your elevated pallet. But my list below will take a lot of the guess work out of your search for quality and passion in the food and cocktail!
1. The Pharmacy
Going up? This spot is a hidden gem...literally. Conceptually like a speakeasy, you have to know where to go, and which elevator door to choose to step into a whole other world of fine craft cocktails and a menu that is on point. The cocktails are unique and strong. You won't find your typical commercial sips here. Let your bartender play with flavors you enjoy and try something that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
Ramen is all the rage right now. Domu has blended this popular concept with a swanky atmosphere and great cocktails. The portions are generous and so well flavored. The cocktails are fun and well made. If your visiting Orlando and staying near the parks, this spot is a bit of a drive, but so well worth it!
3. Cafe Tu Tu Tango
For being in the heart of the tourist district, Cafe Tu Tu Tango has preserved a delicious in season menu and well made cocktails for a discerning pallet. Cafe Tu Tu Tango is like stepping into an artist loft and enjoying a collection of art both on display and being made as you eat and sip. The food is tapas style and meant to share and try variety with your party. This spot is my favorite location for brunch on Saturday or Sunday. They have a bottomless mimosa or Bloody Mary option with a customer accessible bar to add to your spirit to customize flavors.
4. Highball and Harvest
I love southern food. Highball and Harvest is a craft cocktail bar with a menu heavily inspired by southern flavors and local farm to table options. Located inside the Ritz Carlton, this hot spot is re writing the way luxury can blend with casual comfort. I love popping in here on a Friday or Saturday evening to enjoy live local music and having dinner and letting the bar tenders simply play. They love their craft and will indulge you with unique and unexpected flavor profiles.
5. Disney Springs
I know, I know...Disney Springs is an area, not a restaurant bar. But I have found the simple joy in ordering a cocktail from one spot, walking around and shopping then ordering an appetizer or burger from another spot followed by more browsing and strolling. Its an easy formula to please everyone in your party and find great new flavors. I always start with the "Play with Fire" margarita from Frontera Cocina. Earl of Sandwich, Blaze Pizza or D Luxe Burger are great spots if kids are joining you. But for something special with the whole family, continue at Frontera Cocina or Boathouse. But for that special celebration, indulge at STK! For a night out The Edison is the newest hotspot at Disney Springs with live music and the added treat of live performers and cocktails with a steampunk/prohibition era theme consistent through every detail. The top level at Paddlefish offers stunning views and a great spot for cocktails and conversation.
6. The Nest
New to Orlando this spot has instantly become my favorite place for great cocktails in a fabulous eclectic environment! I first heard of The Nest while traveling to St. Augustine and enjoying cocktails at their sister location Odd Birds Bar. (You can read about my St. Augustine experience here) The bartenders love their craft and make delicious cocktails every time. The Nest is quite a drive from most of the tourist locations of Orlando, but believe me it is well worth the trek! I also awarded one of my "THE BEST I'VE EVER HAD: Pina Colada" to The Nest Bartender, Dan. Keep up the great work!
7. Mathers Social Gathering
Speakeasy themed and hidden lounges and bars are all the rage still, and Orlando has her share of them. Another favorite spot with stunning decor and amazing cocktails is situated in beautiful Downtown Orlando, Mathers Social Gathering. This hidden location is definitely the spot to be seen. Dress to impress and bring your phone, every angle of this place and every cocktail is ready made for a great Instagram shot!
8. Canvas Lake Nona
Lake Nona is quickly becoming the neighborhood of choice in Orlando. Anchored with one of the largest medical facilities in Central Florida, the Lake Nona atmosphere is hip, swanky and active. There is still a lot building up in the food and beverage scene so watch for more updates as I explore this charming neighborhood, but I am certain that Canvas will remain a favorite and top suggestion for where to go in Orlando. Canvas has a beautiful view of the lake (which makes a sunset dinner here extra special. They also have their own garden which provides some of the flavors used in their cocktails and cuisine. There is a charming gift shop where I find the most unique gifts. What I like best about Canvas is that the atmosphere indulges a special occasion, dressing up and celebrating feel or I can walk in casual after a day out and about and enjoy a cocktail with friends. And the food and drinks are always on point. I choose Canvas as one of the "BEST I'VE EVER HAD: CHEESE GRITS"! But everything they offer is delicious! Check them out!!
9. LUMA in Winter Park
Winter Park is one of those beautiful neighborhoods that has it all. Amazing restaurants and bars, charming shops and boutiques and an active community with live events and festivals regularly. From where I live, Winter Park is a bit of a drive, but always worth it. LUMA is situated right on the swanky Park Ave. and is definitely the place to be seen and get amazing cocktails and cuisine. The bar team is passionate about their craft which is also why I chose LUMA for my "BEST I'VE EVER HAD: Creative Cocktail" for the seasonal creation "What's Up Doc?". Typically I plan on just spending the day in Winter Park and LUMA always kicks off my evening in this great neighborhood.
10. Santiagos Bodega in Orlando
Santiagos is one of those places that you can not go wrong with. Brunch...yes please! Lunch...perfect! Dinner...the best!! And cocktails...all the time!! I love the vibe at Santiagos Orlando location (I've haven't made it to the other locations...yet) I love the eclectic art and decor and the food menu rotates seasonally, so there is really always a reason to go back... This is one of my regular spots because any time of the day I can get something delicious and enjoy the atmosphere. It's the perfect spot for a romantic date or a girls day out.
Lover of travel to charming places dusted with unique flavor. Join me as I explore the world sip by sip. Cheers!