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Raising the bar: Five Orlando watering holes where form is just as important as function 

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Ten more bars that push boundaries

Ember
You’ll feel like you’re sipping your drinks in a Mediterranean plaza when you’re sitting on the patio at this impressively sprawling indoor/outdoor bar in downtown Orlando.
42 W. Central Blvd. | emberorlando.com

Hanson’s Shoe Repair
This 1930s speakeasy-themed spot doesn’t play around – you have to call in advance to get the password, which will be texted to you with a time during which you can arrive, if you want to get in. Once inside, it’s elbow room only, but the decor (and the exquisite craft cocktails) truly transports you to another era.
27 E. Pine St., hansonsshoerepair.com

Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe
This authentic German beer hall not only offers German music (accordions, yodeling, spoons!), it also serves “das boot” – beer served in giant liter and three-liter glasses, which you’re expected to pass around the table and chug while the crowd cheers you on. No pressure.
205 E. First St., Sanford | willowtreecafe.com

The Lodge
For you northerners who miss hanging out après ski at the bars near the slopes, the closest thing you’ll find in Orlando is the Lodge, where you can sip whiskey (or whatever) in a rustic lodge-themed setting. If you’re freaked out by taxidermy, beware: The walls are festooned with mounted animal heads.
49 N. Orange Ave. | downtownlodge.com

Minus 5 Ice Bar
Locally owned Icebar Orlando was the first of its kind in Orlando, but then the Minus 5 icebar chain opened a location just down the road at Pointe Orlando. The theme is pretty much the same – a bar made completely of ice.
Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive | orlandoicebar.com

Mucho Tequila and Tacos (and Mucho Liquor Store)
This Thornton Park staple is loosely themed on the Quentin Tarantino movie From Dusk Till Dawn.
101 S. Eola Drive | muchotequilaandtacos.com

Parliament House Resort
This sprawling gay (and straight-friendly) resort doesn’t have one specific theme, unless that theme is partying it up. There’s usually so much going on you’re not likely to get bored here. Have dinner at the Rainbow Cafe, catch a show at the Footlight Theater, have a drink by the pool, dance in the club, repeat. Party too hard? There’s also a motel on site so you can get a room and stay over.
410 N. Orange Blossom Trail | parliamenthouse.com

CityWalk’s Rising Star
If you’re into karaoke, check this out – rather than singing along to a pre-recorded track, at Rising Star you get a backup band and singers so you can really show people how good (or bad) you are.
6000 Universal Blvd. | universalorlando.com

Stardust Lounge
This 1960s Vegas-themed bar, from the creators of Mucho Tacos and Tequila and Aku Aku Tiki Bar, is Orlando’s Space Age bachelor pad. Catch some burlesque, lounge on a red faux-leather banquette or play some pool in a venue that transports you to the Rat Pack era.
431 E. Central Blvd. | stardustorlando.com

Stigma Tattoo Bar
Though it’s not usually advisable to mix drinking and tattooing, you can do so at this downtown Orlando nightspot, which is home to five dancing poles, a trapeze swing, cages (for dancing in) and multiple tattoo stations. As the bar states clearly on its website, it doesn’t condone getting wasted and tattooed – but you can certainly have a drink to calm your nerves before going under the needle.
17 S. Orange Ave. | stigmatattoos.com

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