Saturday, November 18, 2017
Bars & Spirits

Ultimate quest takes tbt* to unique Tampa Bay bars

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Two years ago, I introduced tbt*'s annual Ultimate Bar Guide with a simple question: Why do we drink?

This year, I'd like to amend that question. Today, I'm wondering: Why do we go to bars?

Because let's face it, "drinking" and "going to bars" are not necessarily synonymous. You can drink alone at home (always a fun time!), but in choosing to go out to a bar, you invariably want something more. You want a great beer selection, a professionally made cocktail, a dynamic atmosphere, a fun place to meet friends, a bite or two of food you can't make yourself. Whether you realize it or not, you're on a quest — a mission to find the perfect drink in the perfect bar with the perfect people. You know exactly what you want, and you'll gladly pay to get it.

So for this year's Ultimate Bar Guide, we found inspiration in specific, bar-related quests. Who makes the area's ultimate gin and tonic? Who has the best late-night grub? Where can I play some decent pinball? What's the most sophisticated bar in Pinellas Park?

Some of our quests were more personal. Robbyn Mitchell set out to find her own personal Cheers, a bar where she could see herself becoming a regular. Joshua Gillin can't stand IPAs, so he hit craft beer bars in search of one he could stand. Tbt*'s resident barfly Justin Grant — a part-time DJ who used to sing in a metal band — became fascinated with country bars, and wanted in on the action. Me? I was desperate to find an authentic tiki bar (they're different from beach bars, dammit!) somewhere in Tampa Bay.

These curious quests led us to see the local drinking scene through fresh beer goggles. Instead of writing about the same old bars, year after year, we visited some new, strange and fascinating places some of us never knew existed That's what a good quest should do, right?

In fact, we had so much fun with this year's Bar Guide that we're launching a new feature with a similar agenda. We're calling it "The Quest." Every week, we'll pick a drink, a food, a shopping item, an activity — basically, whatever we're craving at any given moment — and track down places that do it up right. We'll roll it out next week. If you've got an idea for a Quest, send it to tbteditors@tampabay.com with "QUEST" in the subject line.

In the meantime, we hope you use this year's Ultimate Bar Guide as a road map to a quest of your own. Maybe some of what you read will inspire you to get out and drink someplace new.

That's what we did, and we loved every tipsy minute of it. — cridlin@tampabay.com

Two years ago, I introduced tbt*'s annual Ultimate Bar Guide with a simple question: Why do we drink?

This year, I'd like to amend that question. Today, I'm wondering: Why do we go to bars?

Because let's face it, "drinking" and "going to bars" are not necessarily synonymous. You can drink alone at home (always a fun time!), but in choosing to go out to a bar, you invariably want something more. You want a great beer selection, a professionally made cocktail, a dynamic atmosphere, a fun place to meet friends, a bite or two of food you can't make yourself. Whether you realize it or not, you're on a quest — a mission to find the perfect drink in the perfect bar with the perfect people. You know exactly what you want, and you'll gladly pay to get it.

So for this year's Ultimate Bar Guide, we found inspiration in specific, bar-related quests. Who makes the area's ultimate gin and tonic? Who has the best late-night grub? Where can I play some decent pinball? What's the most sophisticated bar in Pinellas Park?

Some of our quests were more personal. Robbyn Mitchell set out to find her own personal Cheers, a bar where she could see herself becoming a regular. Joshua Gillin can't stand IPAs, so he hit craft beer bars in search of one he could stand. Tbt*'s resident barfly Justin Grant — a part-time DJ who used to sing in a metal band — became fascinated with country bars, and wanted in on the action. Me? I was desperate to find an authentic tiki bar (they're different from beach bars, dammit!) somewhere in Tampa Bay.

These curious quests led us to see the local drinking scene through fresh beer goggles. Instead of writing about the same old bars, year after year, we visited some new, strange and fascinating places some of us never knew existed That's what a good quest should do, right?

In fact, we had so much fun with this year's Bar Guide that we're launching a new feature with a similar agenda. We're calling it "The Quest." Every week, we'll pick a drink, a food, a shopping item, an activity — basically, whatever we're craving at any given moment — and track down places that do it up right. We'll roll it out next week. If you've got an idea for a Quest, send it to tbteditors@tampabay.com with "QUEST" in the subject line.

In the meantime, we hope you use this year's Ultimate Bar Guide as a road map to a quest of your own. Maybe some of what you read will inspire you to get out and drink someplace new.

That's what we did, and we loved every tipsy minute of it. — cridlin@tampabay.com

Two years ago, I introduced tbt*'s annual Ultimate Bar Guide with a simple question: Why do we drink?

This year, I'd like to amend that question. Today, I'm wondering: Why do we go to bars?

Because let's face it, "drinking" and "going to bars" are not necessarily synonymous. You can drink alone at home (always a fun time!), but in choosing to go out to a bar, you invariably want something more. You want a great beer selection, a professionally made cocktail, a dynamic atmosphere, a fun place to meet friends, a bite or two of food you can't make yourself. Whether you realize it or not, you're on a quest — a mission to find the perfect drink in the perfect bar with the perfect people. You know exactly what you want, and you'll gladly pay to get it.

So for this year's Ultimate Bar Guide, we found inspiration in specific, bar-related quests. Who makes the area's ultimate gin and tonic? Who has the best late-night grub? Where can I play some decent pinball? What's the most sophisticated bar in Pinellas Park?

Some of our quests were more personal. Robbyn Mitchell set out to find her own personal Cheers, a bar where she could see herself becoming a regular. Joshua Gillin can't stand IPAs, so he hit craft beer bars in search of one he could stand. Tbt*'s resident barfly Justin Grant — a part-time DJ who used to sing in a metal band — became fascinated with country bars, and wanted in on the action. Me? I was desperate to find an authentic tiki bar (they're different from beach bars, dammit!) somewhere in Tampa Bay.

These curious quests led us to see the local drinking scene through fresh beer goggles. Instead of writing about the same old bars, year after year, we visited some new, strange and fascinating places some of us never knew existed That's what a good quest should do, right?

In fact, we had so much fun with this year's Bar Guide that we're launching a new feature with a similar agenda. We're calling it "The Quest." Every week, we'll pick a drink, a food, a shopping item, an activity — basically, whatever we're craving at any given moment — and track down places that do it up right. We'll roll it out next week. If you've got an idea for a Quest, send it to tbteditors@tampabay.com with "QUEST" in the subject line.

In the meantime, we hope you use this year's Ultimate Bar Guide as a road map to a quest of your own. Maybe some of what you read will inspire you to get out and drink someplace new.

That's what we did, and we loved every tipsy minute of it. — cridlin@tampabay.com

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