There's more to Orlando than theme parks. Craft cocktail bars have been popping up all over the city, and locals love the creative libations bartenders are whipping up. Here are the best places to celebrate World Cocktail Day on May 13 in Orlando.
Whether you're cozying up to the bar or enjoying the sunshine on the outdoor patio, The Matador is the go-to craft cocktail joint in Ivanhoe Village and Mills 50 District. It's currently open seven days a week, and there are happy hour specials on Friday from 5-8 p.m. Embrace the palm tree weather and order a "Leaky Sinks," a rum cocktail with banana, velvet falernum, pineapple, and lime. The seasonal collins comes with your choice of vodka or gin, a rotating seasonal syrup, lemon, and fizzy soda water. The on-tap gin and tonic cocktail is another excellent way to get a bubbly libation.
Aku Aku Tiki Bar
Aku Aku Tiki Bar, the sister bar to Stardust Lounge, celebrates the greatest era in tiki cocktail creation, the 1960s. Each cocktail will have you feeling the cool ocean breezes and hear the bamboo swaying in the wind. The "Pulupe Punch" is quite a wallop (limit 2 per customer) with rhum agricole, Blackwell Jamaican, Hamilton 151, guava, lime, and falernum. Slow sipping is advised. Other classic tiki drinks such as "Saturn," "Zombie," and "Jet Pilot" also number the dangerously boozy libations on the menu. If you're bringing the whole fully vaccinated squad, get a volcano bowl (32 or 48-ounce) because it's a mix of six different rums and fresh juice that erupts with a heavy pour of 151.
The Robinson Cafe & Cocktail Room
The second floor of the Robinson Cafe is home to the Cocktail Room. This nighttime hotspot has brooding exposed beam ceilings and lush green furnishings. For a fruity, fun refresher, order the "Cheetah Skates," which is a lively blend of tequila, coconut, watermelon, and lemon. "Mr. Fresident" provides a smokier agave profile with tequila, mezcal, Fresno pepper blend, lime, and bitters. For a stiffer, tropical beverage, "Sweat The Technique," made from Japanese whiskey, amaro, tropical oleo, and orange, should fit the bill. Salty, craveable bar snacks like parmesan truffle fries or bang bang cauliflower will help take the edge off the alcohol.
Mathers Social Gathering
Exposed brick and ample space make Mathers Social Gathering a relaxed yet refined place to gather with other fully vaccinated friends for a drink. Proper attire is required, so no flip flops or ball caps and shorts are only permissible with a collared shirt. The three-story building miraculously avoided damage in the 1884 fire that crippled the neighborhood, and the 19th-century charm is still there today. The refreshing house fizz is made with gin, cucumber, mint, and soda. It's a great way to beat the Florida heat. The "Envy" cocktail is served in a smoked decanter and made with bourbon, honey, ginger, lemon, green apple, thyme, and then misted with whiskey barrel bitters.
The cocktails at The Courtesy are made from the highest quality ingredients by bartenders of unparalleled caliber. This first-come-first-served bar also has cocktails available to go if in-person imbibing is still a bit scary for you. The Courtesy also offers cocktail classes on the first and third Saturday of each month to help guests learn the proper way to mix drinks as well as the rich history behind them. The menu changes three times a year and is currently in transition. To-go options include the "Iberian Fog Cutter Milk Punch" with rum, brandy, dry curacao, sherry, lemon, orgeat (almond syrup), and applejack.
Hanson's Shoe Repair
Hanson's Shoe Repair has speakeasy vibes and an extensive spirits collection. For the password, check Twitter (@hansonsshoeshop) and head to the rooftop of the Hanson building. Cocktails here are drinkable works of art with impeccable garnishes. Try "Roman Holiday" with mezcal, Strega, citrus, pineapple syrup, and black peppercorn. Gin drinkers should go for "Salt & Light" with gin, blanc vermouth, citrus, cucumber, mint, and sea salt. The menu frequently rotates, so every visit is a new adventure.