From dive bars to speakeasies, craft cocktails to microbrews, Orlando loves its drinks.
Don't call it a drinking problem; we're just enthusiasts. But with our level of sprawl (that's
the real problem), you might be wondering where to even start to get a feel for Orlando's nightlife – and, let's be honest, daylife – culture, particularly if you've landed on the east side of town, which at first glance appears to be dominated by one-size-fits-all college bars like the Knight Pub
and Knight Library.
Not that there's anything wrong with that, but college bar culture can be monolithic and you're on the hunt for authenticity, right?
If you're into beers – the fancier the better – there's no better place to start your tour than at Redlight Redlight.
This Audubon Park craft beer emporium has been championing the cause of small brewers and specialty imports since the days when "craft beer" meant Killian's. And if you're too young to understand why that joke is funny, you're in luck; the staff at Redlight will happily answer any questions you might have about the differences between porters and sours, why people go nuts for Belgian beers, or what goes into the brewing process.
Once you've gotten an education – or if you already have one and are ready to skip ahead – you can visit plenty of local breweries. That's a sentence we couldn't have honestly written five years ago, but there's been an explosion in local craft brew recently. You've got Ten10 Brewing
and Ivanhoe Park Brewing
over in the Mills 50/Ivanhoe Village overlap. Castle Church Brewing Community
and Ellipsis Brewing
dominate the beer scene on the south side of town, while Longwood's lauded Hourglass Brewing
recently opened a more convenient location in the newly rebranded Hourglass District. There are plenty more, but we can't fit them all here. (Please don't write us any more angry emails, brewers of Central Florida.)
Looking for more efficiency and decor for your drinking dollar? Let's talk craft cocktails. Downtown has the highest concentration of pricey drinks out of any neighborhood, with Hanson's Shoe Repair, the Woods, Mathers Social Gathering
and Courtesy Bar
all within stumbling distance of each other. Mills 50's cocktail scene had been dominated by the dynamic duo of Lil Indies
and the Guesthouse,
but the recently resurrected Wally's
has added craft cocktails to its menu in a controversial move that may seem ridiculously uncontroversial to anyone who just moved here.
Even with the upgrades, Wally's
is still pretty high up on our mental list of places that keep it simple and keep it cheap, but that list is getting smaller as the years go by. Thankfully, Will's Pub,
just up Mills Avenue, will probably outlive us all. Stop in here sometime to grab a drink and hang out on the patio and you'll quickly see why it's sometimes considered "Orlando's living room." Down in Thornton Park, Burton's
maintains an old-school, no-frills charm in a neighborhood that is increasingly anything but. Finally, we'll let you in on a little secret that we've been keeping under our hats for a few years: George's Hideaway,
way up on Edgewater Drive, is a wonderland of unpretentious pleasures for those who appreciate the presence of pool tables, pinball and cheap pitchers of beer.
Burton's Thornton Park
801 E. Washington St.
Castle Church Brewing
6820 Hoffner Ave., castlechurchbrewing.com
114 N. Orange Ave.,
7500 TPC Blvd.,
5507 Edgewater Drive
1321 N. Mills Ave.
Hanson's Shoe Repair
27 E. Pine St., twitter.com/hansonsshoeshop
Hourglass Brewing (Hourglass District)
2500 Curry Ford Road, hourglassbrewing.com
Ivanhoe Park Brewing Company
1300 Alden Road, ivanhoeparkbrewing.com
11448 University Blvd., knightlibrary.com
The Knight's Pub
3910 N. Alafaya Trail, knightspubucf.com
1036 N. Mills Ave.,
Mathers Social Gathering
30 S. Magnolia Ave., mathersorlando.com
2810 Corrine Drive, redlightredlightbeerparlour.com
Ten10 Brewing Company
1010 Virginia Drive, ten10brewingcompany.com
1042 N. Mills Ave., willspub.org
49 N. Orange Ave., thewoodsorlando.com
This story is from the Aug. 8, 2019, print issue of
Orlando Weekly's Newcomers Guide 2019. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.