Disney is known as the Theme Park capital of the world, and when people think “theme park” their minds automatically go to children having fun, with parents just along for the ride. That is far from the case in Orlando’s theme parks. From Disney World to Universal Studios Orlando to SeaWorld, there are attractions suitable for all ages.
Surrounding these parks are areas for both fine and casual dining which serves adult beverages, and there are also a few bars and night clubs.
Let’s explore ten of them.
First, we’ll see what’s happening at Disney Springs – a great shopping mall for visitors and even residents of Orlando who want some of the Disney experience without going into any of the parks themselves.
Disney Springs is divided into five areas – Marketplace, The Landing, Town Center and West Side. There’s also a Resort Area.
- Dockside Margaritas (Disney Spring/Marketplace)
Walk up to Dockside Margaritas – looking uncannily like a 1960s Florida fruit stand – and order one of their handcrafted margaritas or cocktails. There’s also Florida craft brews on offer such as Cigar City Jai Alai IPA (all the way from Tampa) and Orange Blossom Pilsner brewed right in Orlando. Also on offer are such drinks as Florida Citrus Freeze (Florida Cane ‘Orlando Orange’ Vodka and Peach Schnapps blended with Orange Puree, or an Orange Grove Rum Runner (Siesta Key Spiced Rum, Blackberry Brandy, Crème de Banana and a Florida Citrus Juices with a float of Gosling’s 151 Rum. Sit outside overlooking clear blue water and listen to live music while snacking on chili cheese dogs, key lime nachos or popcorn.
- Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar
Walk into a 1940s-era airplane hangar, which happens to be the former home of Jock Lindsey, Indiana Jones’ pilot (the one who encouraged him to jump into a cockpit with his pet snake Reggie in the original movie), and feel the rush of nostalgia from that iconic movie. The minor character of pilot Jock Lindsey is brought to life here with a full backstory which is a lot of fun. The cuisine is eclectic, named after a few of the iconic Indiana Jones characters such as Sallah’s Falafel and Lao Che’s Revenge.
The Hangar Bar offers both non-alcoholic drinks (with names such as Antidote, Poisonless Dart, Teddy’s Tea and Diving Bell you know they must taste good), and alcohol drinks such as Shorty’s Singapore Sling (Plymouth Gin, Heering Cherry Liqueur, Bénédictine, Cointreau, fresh Lime Juice, Pineapple Juice and Grenadine) and the German Mechanic (Bavarian Radler a.k.a. “Shandy” with Paulaner Hefe-Weizen and Simply Lemonade®. There’s also bottled beer and a selection of White, Red and Rosé wines.
- Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant
In the U.S., there are bars, in Ireland there are pubs (public houses). The Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant is located at the Landing and serves Irish cuisine such as Fish & Chips and Shepherd’s Pie. The “specialty libations” include Iced Irish (Tullamore Dew Irish Whisky, butterscotch schnapps and Baileys Salted Caramel with iced coffee with a dollop of whipped cream on top, and the Dublin Donkey – Teelings Small batch Irish whiskey, ginger beer, fresh lemon sour, topped off with candied ginger and lime.
There’s also imported draught beers such as Guinness Irish Stout and Smithwicks Irish Ale, as well as Raglan Road Signature Brews such as Miriam’s Irish Coffee Stout, Bloomsday Pale Ale, and Tri Wishes Grand Irish Red Ale. The “Wine and Bubbly” options come from Italy, New Zealand, Italy, France, South Africa and California.
Let’s check out Universal Studio’s CityWalk next. Just as Disney World has its Disney Springs located conveniently near but outside the parka, so Universal Studios has its CityWalk:
The Red Coconut Club, which is open every night from 8 pm to 2 am, has two levels and is home to three different bars. There’s music every night, although musicians only play on Fridays and Saturdays. Dancing is encouraged!
Guests, 21 years and older, can sit at tables if they feel like noshing, have a seat on one of the bongo-shaped seats at the bars, or walk out onto the balcony to take in the starshine. Note that there’s a cover charge after 10 pm. Check out their signature Red Coconut and Rum punch drink! Be aware that the drinks are pretty pricy.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville is an iconic restaurant inside City Walk, and its three bars are iconic as well – the Volcano Bar, the Land Shark Bar and the 12 Volt Bar. Each one carries a theme from one of Jimmy Buffett’s song. The Volcano Bar is perhaps the most popular bar here. Once an hour, Buffet’s song Volcano is played, and at its end warnings sound and the volcano inside the bar erupts – not with lava but with Margaritas that pour into a gigantic green container.
The food served here is called “Floribbean Cuisine” – a combination of Key West and Caribbean delicacies.
- the groove
the groove (that’s right, it’s not capitalized) is a night club that’s open from 9 pm to 2 am every day of the week. Guests must be 21 years or older, pay a $7 cover charge after 10 pm, and dress casually chic – meaning no hats or tank tops.
There are several bars inside this club, dynamic DJs who take the stage Wednesdays through Saturdays, and a large dance floor. Guests can grab some fresh air on the balcony which overlooks CityWalk.
Now let’s talk about International Drive (known as I-Drive to the locals). I-Drive has been compared to the Las Vegas strip – its 11-mile, north-south length is jam packed with restaurants, shops, shopping malls, and a couple of theme parks – SeaWorld and Aquatica.
- Bloodhound Brew Pub & Eatery – 6464 International Drive
Bloodhound Brew bills itself as an eatery – and it offers great burgers, salads and wraps, and tacos. But it’s noted for its over 40 craft beers, including their featured offerings such as Goose Island Ten Hills Pale Ale, Sweetwater Blue, Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale, New Belgium Slow Ride Session IPA, Tampa Bay Reef Donkey and Brooklyn Greenmarket Wheat. And perhaps unique to the Bloodhound Brew Pub & Eatery are their “Jumbo Dogbowl Ritas” (Margaritas served in dog bowl sized glasses!)
Guests can relax on their large outdoor patio, or gather inside and watch baseball, football and other sporting events on one of over 30 TV sets!
- Blue Martini – Inside Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive
Blue Martini is an upscale bar and lounge. It’s a chain, but they aren’t widely scattered throughout the US and chances are you’ve never experienced one.
And it’s worth the visit. Just as The Whiskey (the last bar on our list) specializes in whiskey, the Blue Martini specializes in martinis. They offer more than 40 deliciously designed Martinis, but don’t neglect the cocktails or fine wines and spirits.
Their Martinis include The Blue Martini, mixed with Van Gogh Blue Vodka, Bols Blue Curacao, Sour, and Orange Juice, served over ice in an oversized snifter. Their Mojito consists of Bacardi Limon Rum, Lime, Agave, Mint and Club Soda.
To nibble along with the Martinis are such offerings as beef tenderloin, Maine Lobster Salad and Lollipop Lambchops.
Blue Martini also offers live entertainment every night.
- ICEBAR Orlando – 8967 International Drive
ICEBAR Orlando is perhaps the most unique bar you will never visit. That’s because you need to wear a coat while you’re inside. (These are provided free of charge – unless you’d like a faux fur coat. Renting that costs extra.)
ICEBAR is a permanent ice bar – the largest one in the world and was featured on Travel Channel’s “Extreme Barhopping”.
Your drinks are served in a custom-carved “glass” of ice. Blocks of ice surround you, and you sit on chairs of ice (albeit with warm faux fur skins on top). Ice sculptures are everywhere.
Should you decide you need to thaw out from the 22° degree ICEBAR, it’s time to go into the Fire Lounge. Here there’s nightly entertainment and appetizers (flatbreads, wings, sliders).
Be sure to make reservations well in advance if you want to experience ICEBAR Orlando.
- The Whiskey – 7563 W Sand Lake Rd
The Whiskey, just a short drive west of the starting point of International Drive, is open from 11 am to 2 am every day, serving lunch and dinner featuring American fare with top quality, locally sourced ingredients.
It’s in the evenings that you can best enjoy their bar and more importantly, the whiskey.
The Whiskey offers over a hundred different types of Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch and Rye. Their Whiskies and Ryes start with Angels Envy Rye and Bear Gully to Yellow Rose Rye, Yukon Jack Wicked Hot and Yukon Jacked Apple. Bourbons start with Angels Envy and Bakers 7 Yr, all the way down to Yellow Rose Double Barrel and Yellow Rose Outlaw. Their Irish Whiskey starts with Bushmills and ends with Tullamore Drew Phoenix. And then there’s their Scotch, starting with Aberfeldy 12 Yr and ending with Speymalt Macallen 19 Yr.
In other words, this is the whiskey destination of Orlando.
Thus ends our list of the 10 Best Bars in Orlando near the theme parks.