Best Of 2017

Best Place to Hit "Continue"
Photo by Lindsey Thompson

Joysticks Arcade Lounge and Retro Bar

69 E. Pine St., second floor

407-613-5007

joysticksorlando.com

Joysticks spares no detail when it comes to re-creating the neon frenzy of the 1980s. Homages to Jaws, The Goonies and other nostalgia-heavy flicks abound, and there are more than enough arcade and console video games to go around (including couches with old Nintendos hooked up to TVs for adventurous nerds on dates). The drink menu matches the bar's over-the-top theme with specialty cocktails using dry ice and colorful liqueurs to concoct science-project-esque beverages. The Hooters-y vibe of the waitress uniforms is a teensy bit off-putting, but the free Ms. Pac Man guarantees we'll hit "Continue" here instead of ending the game.

Music and Nightlife: The best in local bars, clubs, bands, DJs and more

Music and Nightlife
Best Place to Act Out Drunken History

Mathers Social Gathering

30 S. Magnolia Ave.

407-250-5005

mathersorlando.com

Downtown's poshest newcomer this year is undoubtedly Mathers Social Gathering. Located on the third floor of the historic Mathers building – one of the few remaining downtown buildings that predate the fire of 1884 – the space is decked out in sumptuous furnishings, photos of Old Orlando, and even a turn-of-the-century-style general store tucked into a corner. Here, you can plop into an armchair with a craft cocktail in one hand while regaling your friends with stories of Orlando's past – either real or made-up – while sitting underneath the oversized U.S. flag that once flew at Tinker Field – as long as you adhere to the dress code, of course.

Best Resurrection

Burton's Bar closes, then reopens as Burton's Bar

801 E. Washington St.

407-412-5140

When Burton's Bar closed in February of this year, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as it seemed that Thornton Park's cheapest and friendliest neighborhood bar was to be no more. But while we waited to find out what the developer vultures that circle the city would do to the beloved casual boozer, the owners of downtown staples the Lodge and the Woods were making moves to take over the space. And when they announced that they'd not only be taking over Burton's but keeping it pretty much the same, Thorntonites rejoiced, comforted by the knowledge that they'd still be able to dig into a bucket of reasonably priced domestics while chilling on one of the best people-watching perches – Burton's patio – indefinitely.

Best Bar (Overall)

1. Will's Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave., willspub.org

2. The Guesthouse, 1321 N. Mills Ave., 407-630-6574

3. Southern Nights, 375 S. Bumby Ave., 407-412-5039, facebook.com/southernnightsorlando

Best Bar to Play Pool

1. Sportstown Billiards, 2414 E. Robinson St., 407-894-6258, sportstownbilliards.com

2. Trick Shots, multiple locations, trickshotsbilliards.com

3. Spatz, 1025 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-3354

Best Bartender

1. Jen Harton, Lil Indies, 1036 N. Mills Ave., facebook.com/lilindiesorlando

2. Dave Merkli, Tanqueray's Bar, 100 S. Orange Ave., 407-649-8540, facebook.com/tanqueraysbar

3. Lee Courtley, Independent Bar, 70 N. Orange Ave., 407-839-0457, facebook.com/independentbar

Best Club Night

1. Mac n Cheese at Independent Bar, 70 N. Orange Ave., 407-839-0457, facebook.com/independentbar

2. Shake N Bass, facebook.com/shakenbass

3. Girl the Party, girltheparty.com

Best Craft Beer Bar

1. Redlight Redlight, 2810 Corrine Drive, 407-893-9832, facebook.com/redlightredlight

2. World of Beer, 431 E. Central Blvd., 407-270-5541, worldofbeer.com

3. Thirsty Topher, 601 Virginia Drive, 407-491-4342

Best Craft Cocktail Bar

1. Lil Indies, 1036 N. Mills Ave., facebook.com/lilindiesorlando

2. Hanson's Shoe Repair, 27 E. Pine St., 407-476-9446, facebook.com/hansonsshoerepair

3. The Guesthouse, 1321 N. Mills Ave., 407-630-6574

Best Dance Club

1. Independent Bar, 70 N. Orange Ave., 407-839-0457, facebook.com/independentbar

2. Parliament House, 410 N. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-425-7571, parliamenthouse.com

3. Southern Nights, 375 S. Bumby Ave., 407-412-5039, facebook.com/southernnightsorlando