Cheers! Belly up at some of Orlando's best bars

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? 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 cozy, cocktail-forward havens like Bitters & Brass, chic hotel jazz lounges like the Grand Bohemian Orlando's Bosendorfer Lounge, intimate downtown speakeasies like Hanson's Shoe Repair and date night/B-and GNO/client drink love matches like Mather's Social Gathering. Belly up, friends, and prepare to sample some of the city's very  best.



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



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



Mathers Social Gathering's story, or at least that of the charming building in which it is housed, begins back in the 1800s, and the third-floor space that Mathers occupies is rife with charm and atmosphere. Expertly mixed craft cocktails await...  Read More



This upscale rooftop lounge is chic without being pretentious and offers patrons lovely views of downtown from its "Ivanhood" location, steps from not only a host of other bars and bistros, but just upstairs from a sister establishment, M or...  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



So you want to go out drinking, but you're with a varied group. Some are all about the beer, others are hoping to catch some live music, and all of them are hungry. Sanford Brewing could be your love match tonight. With an array of house-brewed...  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 in a beautiful old space in walkable, wonderful downtown Sanford, Bitters & Brass is a haven for cocktail enthusiasts. Its vast menu is sectioned off by booze: gin, rum, vodka, scotch, bourbon/rye, brandy, tequila/mezcal and more....  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

Amy Drew has spent nearly three decades as a professional writer and roughly half her life as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.

A roller coaster...  More About A.D.