St. Augustine's Best Bars, Nightclubs and Live Music
By Shelley Preston
St. Augustine Local Expert
Quiet cocktails by the water, a raucous night out or sipping craft on beers, there are many vibes to St. Augustine's nightlife scene. One constant is live music. Nearly every bar and restaurant St. Augustine's downtown historic district offers live music to get their patrons in a party mood. Colonial Quarter, for example, is a history attraction by day, but at night, it opens its cool outdoor stage to music acts touring the country such as Della Mae and Buckwheat Zydeco.
On the beachside, there are lots of high-energy bars along the water with bands and DJs spinning regularly.
One of the niftiest places to see live music is at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. The state-of-the-art concert hall regularly hosts big acts like The Doobie Brothers, Alan Jackson, Bob Dylan and Sarah McLachlan. Various music festivals also happen throughout the year.
This top 10 list has a mix of places to get your drink on depending on what suits your tastes. These places are dependable for good cocktails, great live music or a funky place to chill. Most are in the tourist corridor, which means they are easy to walk to if you are staying at a hotel or B & B in the old city.
A1A Ale Works
The popular and often packed A1A prides itself on brewing a selection of ales, lagers and seasonal brews that range from golden to black, each with a distinctive flavor and numerous fans. Besides being a brewery, people love coming here for dinner. Seafood specialties such as fish tacos and jambalaya are popular as well as the large array of hearty sandwiches. Beyond the beers and the excellent food, patrons can get nice views of the Matanzas Bay in the lovely outdoor space. And, like many St. Augustine's bars and eateries, there is often festive live music on the weekends. (904-829-2977)
A fixture in St. Augustine, the Limelight Theatre affords guests quality theatrical performances including comedies, dramas, mysteries, musicals and children's theater. The excellent scenery, acting and ambience will not disappoint theater lovers of all ages. The theatre also serves as an art gallery. Before a performance or during intermission, the audience is treated to art by fine local photographers and painters. On the last Sunday of each month, the Limelight's Koger-Gamache Studio Theatre presents Music in the Box Box with live bands performing in various music genres from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is only $5. (904-825-1164, 866-682-6400)
The Bar With No Name
How can you resist a place with "No Name?" This catch-all bar is directly across the street from the famous Castillo De San Marcos. Take in the views of the inlet and Castillo from the outdoor patio or sit inside at the bar. Don't expect the drinks to be fancy, but there's plenty of beer on tap along with simple mixed drinks. Live music on the weekends and drink specials (ask your bartender) make this a popular spot with Flagler college students 21-and-over and curious tourists who get sucked into its party vibe or want to do some people watching. After 9 p.m., the atmosphere is generally loud and raucous with its patrons out for a good time. (904-826-1837)
Tini Martini Bar
A part of the charming Casablanca Inn, this little (yes, tiny) martini bar is a great spot to bring a date before or after dinner for a cocktail. The lounge inside is nice, but most go for the patio where there is a view of the water and some of the street life. Certain nights there is live music, mostly piano jazz. Besides the classic gin or vodka martini, the bar menu includes specialties such as A Kiss on the LIps, made with strawberry infused vodka and mixed with peach schnapps and cranberry juice, or the Asian Pear. Wine, beer and mixed drinks are also possibilities. (800-826-2626, 904-829-0928)
The ice cube is a work of art here. The Ice plant freezes purified water and then carves cubes into custom "rock" shapes that make the perfect slow melting cube that won't dilute the flavors of your drink. The cocktails themselves have just as much attention paid to them and are made with house-pressed juices, homemade syrups and boutique liquors. Old favorites and new concoctions are both present here. And, you won't have to drink on an empty stomach since the Ice Plant offers a full lunch and dinner menu, plus a bar bites menu for savory nibbles that compliment your beverage of choice. (904-829-6553)
Sipping cocktails at the Cobalt Lounge inside the Casa Monica Hotel is a grown-up experience. Classic Moorish decor punctuated with a touch of neon blue lighting over the bar sets the mood. You'll find a well-heeled crowd perusing the martini menu amidst candlelit tables. On the weekends, live jazz is performed by accomplished regional musicians who contribute to the sophisticated atmosphere. You can also make this your dinner spot with plenty of nibbles to choose from. Different days of the week have specials such as $8 Mojitos on Mondays and $8 specialty martini cocktails on Thursdays. (904-810-6810)
Artsy, zany and very cool Planet Sarbez is one St. Augustine's more eclectic spots. Grab a coffee in the day time and beer and wine at night. Each corner of the venue features a riotous collection of vintage goodness like old TV sets, graffiti black light art and bookshelves filled with old paperbacks. In one corner there is old-school video games to play plus table shuffle board and pool. The small stage hosts local indie bands that play live. Other activities like trivia nights and dance parties are regular occurrences as well as art shows and special events. (904-342-0632)
Cellar Upstairs Wine & Jazz Bar
The Cellar Upstairs, literally upstairs from the San Sebastian Winery, presents patrons with the perfect spot to relax with friends as live bands play eclectic jazz or blues. The wine bar features all of the San Sebastian wines by the glass or bottle, plus sangria concoctions. Beer lovers have plenty of options, too. Choose covered or open air seating, both with pretty views of the surrounding marshlands. The menu offers simple but tasty selections of deli sandwiches and cheese and meat platters.During the day the winery offers complimentary tours and wine tastings which last approximately 45 minutes and are offered seven days a week Mon-Sat, 10am to 6pm and Sun, 11am to 6pm. (904-826-1594, 888-352-9463)
St. Augustine Amphitheater
On your visit to St. Augustine, chances are there will be some amazing music happening at this outdoor, covered concert venue with a 41,000 person capacity. The original amphitheater was built in 1965 in part to commemorate St. Augustine's 400th anniversary as the oldest permanent European settlement. It's gone through many upgrades and now is a favorite place to see live music, music festivals, kids programs and fairs in Northeast Florida. Situated on Anastasia Island, it's also close to some of St. Augustines' prettiest natural lands and beaches. Recent concerts here include Teh Flaming Lips, Wilco, ZZ Top, John Fogerty and My Morning Jacket. (904-209-3744)
Stogie's Jazz Club & Listening Room
Stogie's is a small, intimate bar with a clubby feel. Dark lighting, cigar smoke in the air, leather sofas and live music all set the mood for a cozy evening. Micro brews and a full wine and port selection can be paired with your favorite cigar from the humidor. It's not just a guys scene here, it's popular with couples have a great time here, and ladies on their own feel welcome, too. If you choose to sit outside, there is a patio with ample seating. aStogie's is close to the bayfront, at the top of Charlotte Street, and walking distance from downtown hotels like the Hilton and the Casablanca. ((904) 826-4008)