Dives to Disney: Toasting Orlando's Best Dens of the Drink

Ask 10 people for their idea of a great bar and odds are decent you'll get 10 different answers. Maybe more. Especially if you add the mood of the moment into the mix. Is this a first date or a night out with friends? Do you want to dress to impress, relax in your favorite, old T-shirt or don your best mouse ears? Are you leaning toward a crisp, craft-brewed cider, a peppery Cabernet with notes of vanilla or a cutting-edge craft cocktail flavored with house-made syrup? And of course, if you're planning on pairing drinks with eats or perhaps live music, that might figure into the mix, as well. Just a few questions make the possibilities seem infinite. We whittled the Orlando options down for you with a "bar salad" of sorts, a sampling of top haunts comprised of venerable old dives a la Wally's, chic hotel jazz lounges like the Grand Bohemian Orlando's Bosendorfer Lounge, intimate downtown speakeasies like Hanson's Shoe Repair and even theme-park offerings in the form of Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar, with Indiana Jones-themed drinks and memorabilia that pair beautifully with a waterfront setting. Belly up, friends, and prepare to sample some of the city's very  best.

Some people call it a dive. Or a hole in the wall. But Wally's considers itself a tried-and-true neighborhood bar that's steeped in tradition. Whatever your classification, it's an undeniable institution that's been pickling the livers of...  Read More

What's black and gold and red all over? If you're in downtown Orlando and don't know the answer, the joke is on you, because you're missing out on the Bosendorfer Lounge, one of the city's sultriest locales for cool martinis and even cooler live...  Read More

Get ready for a time warp to Hawaiian and South Seas kitsch (and that's before you even sample the powerful punch of their rum cocktails)! Aku Aku brings tiki culture front and center in downtown Orlando with art and decor that hearkens back to...  Read More

For a pub with excessive emphasis on beer, and by excessive emphasis we mean 40 rotating taps and a massive cider selection, not to mention all the bottles of ales and Lambics and sours (oh, my!), what sets Oblivion apart from the...  Read More

Disney Springs ®

With a fun and colorful Indiana Jones theme, a prime location in the middle of beautiful Disney Springs and even a waterfront seating option, Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar is a great addition to the growing list of adult-focused enclaves that Walt...  Read More

With room for perhaps 30 patrons at a time in its cozy and beautifully restored nook, which boasts a lovely enclosed patch of rooftop for outdoor imbibing, occasional live music and (va-va-voom) burlesque, it's a space that back in the late...  Read More


This is the stuff of Gen-X fantasy: Craft brews and video games in one cozy place. Oh, and art. Which classes the place up amid the comforting retro pings and memorable jingles of arcade classics like Donkey Kong, Missile Command, Centipede and...  Read More


Step back in time inside the Courtesy, a downtown haunt that hearkens back to the era of Prohibition. Lovingly hand-crafted cocktails are the norm, from classics like the daiquiri and Manhattan to new spins on the old-fashioned. Events and...  Read More

Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour
Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

With wide-open digs in Audubon Park, Redlight Redlight is the bar of choice for many of Orlando's craftiest craft brew aficionados and already has 10 years under its belt. Its ridiculously ample beer list might feel overwhelming to some, but...  Read More

Located amid Orange Avenue's hip strip of Ivanhoe Village, the Imperial Wine Bar & Beer Garden should really be on everyone's list. Why? If you've ever pondered the potential joys of having a bar inside your favorite store, you won't ask....  Read More


Meet A.D. Thompson

A.D. Thompson has spent more than 20 years as a professional writer and roughly 15 as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.

A roller coaster enthusiast,...  More About A.D.