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click to enlarge Hanson's Shoe Repair

Adam McCabe

Hanson's Shoe Repair

Six Orlando bars that make you feel like you're not in Florida anymore 

Anyone who enjoys drinking out inevitably discovers a comfy niche within Orlando's bar scene. Whether that means frequenting downtown, sticking to neighborhood bars or rooting out local favorites on I-Drive, your usual bar is as dependable as your usual drink. It's always there for you. Sometimes, though, familiarity can be suffocating. The same barflies. The same bartender telling the same jokes. The redundancy makes you crave escape lest you risk stagnating into insanity, or worse, sobriety.

Luckily, Orlando is home to bars flaunting a foreign aspect that could be the right ingredient to shake up your cocktail hour. Here are six spots that make you feel like you're not in Florida anymore.

Icebar Orlando

8967 International Drive, 407-351-0361;

Has Florida frozen over? Icebar Orlando kicked off a new drinking trend that made its way to our city and frosts much more than your mug, forming the largest permanent ice bar in the world (according to their website) right here in Orlando. You'll feel like you're in an igloo, if, that is, the numbing cold allows you to feel anything at all. Parkas and gloves provided; flip-flops strongly discouraged.

Minus5 Ice Bar

9101 International Drive, 407-704-6956;

Most Floridians are fleeing the cold weather intentionally, but that didn't stop Minus5 from joining Icebar on International Drive in May. Like Icebar, the entire place is formed from ice to create a winter wonderland that momentarily whisks you out of both the warmer climes and palm tree-plastered Florida-themed bars. Coats and gloves provided.

The Harp & Celt

25 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-481-2928;

This U.K./Irish restaurant and pub is maybe the only bar downtown where you'll regularly recognize thick Irish accents as folks order a pint of Guinness with their cottage pie. Go during a soccer match for the ultimate escape if your goooooal is to get away from standard Florida bars.

Rose & Crown English Pub

Inside Epcot, 407-939-3463;

Is it the magic of Disney or the spirit of jolly old England that makes Rose & Crown such a memorable destination? It's an expensive escape, since you have to pay Disney's admission price to get inside Epcot, but the charming resident pianist ensures the place is always buzzing with British fanfare.

Hanson's Shoe Repair

27 E. Pine St., 407-476-9446;

The secrecy of speakeasies is a whispered experience New Yorkers know well (with hip spots like PDT and Employees Only), but the hush-hush trend slipped into downtown Orlando's drinking scene most notably when Hanson's Shoe Repair quietly leaked passwords to enter their cozy, old-fashioned establishment. The warm, rustic environment proves an unusual setting to satiate your drinking establishment wanderlust.

The Imperial at Washburn Imports

1800 N. Orange Ave., 407-228-4992;

Surrounded by exotic imports (from Southeast Asia, India and China) as you sip wine or craft beer inside the furniture store on Antiques Row, it only takes a little imagination (or a few more drinks) to blur realities and pretend you're in the far-off land where these treasures originated.


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