Our favorite finger-moustachioâ€™d bartender tells all about mixers and cocktails that will make or break your summer fitness plans.
Brianâ€™s home made rain poncho: a quintessential bar utility during the rainy season of south Florida.
Fubar opened on Oct. 2, 2009 with promises of live music for every taste and even “champagne birthdays,” said co-owners, Joe McGrath and Joe Aresty. Taking the place of Uptown Bar, Fubar is the new kid on the block in St. Pete’s bar scene. “St. Pete scenesters doubted Fubar would be able to take its place. But the bar has become a popular hangout for punks and hipsters following State Theatre concerts,” wrote Jay Cridlin with the St. Petersburg Times. Walking through Fubar is like being inside a graffiti artists sketch book. The walls are covered in art from local artists, friends of the bartenders, and even multiple pieces that pay homage to everyone’s favorite brew – Pabst Blue Ribbon. Everything from the walls to the ceiling has seen the business end of a spray can, and what remains is quintessentially Fubar. With live music, free pool, and even Ms. PacMan, Fubar is a place that has something for everyone. Turbo Tuesdays came about from bartender Todd Frains plan to draw in more business on Tuesdays, their once-slowest night of the week.
“We started it by giving out free pizza,” said Frain, “plus where else can you go to hear dubstep?” Evolving from drum and bass and the electronic regions of the music genome, Dubstep is a rebellious sibling to what is classically called House music. “Maybe the free pizza brought people first…” said Frain, “but it’s never been a flop.” What initially sounds like an auto-tune malfunction is actually a growing genre of music unto itself. Reputed to have started in UK venue ‘Forward’, artists like Burial, Benga, and Skream, have brought Dubstep to the surface since its underground beginnings in late 1999, early 2000’s. Fubar might surprise you with its beer selections, featuring such rare delights as Shipyard’s Pumpinhead on draught, Hobgoblin, and even a dark chocolate ale. Turbo Tuesdays also features its own drink specials. Amberboch is two for $5, $3 Stella, Blue Moon, and Strongbow draughts are also featured specials. Pitchers of Newcastle, Yuengling, and Blue Moon for $8. By far the most popular drink of choice is the ubiquitously cheap Pabts Blue Ribbon 16 oz which sell two for three dollars. Jake Dubber, aka ‘Shock to the System,’
performed on the 14th. A local DJ, Dubber performs at venues featuring Dubstep music such as Pastimes Pub in Sarasota, where ‘Death to the Dancefloor’ remains the area’s only weekly Dubstep party. “I started on drum and bass, and then I heard Dubstep,” said Dubber. “I think it’ll get more main stream now.” Corey Baker, aka Kill Paris, has been listening to Dubstep for about four or five years and also performs at Fubar occasionally. “I used to play a lot of Electro House, but then I got into Dubstep,” said Baker. Both Dubber and Baker will be releasing EPs on the local label Samoa Good the first week of October. Fubar’s Turbo Tuesday was a close runner up in the Best of The Bay’s results for Best Weekly Club Night. Also featuring parties for First Fridays, art shows featuring street artists such as Jesse Harding, and even a 9/11 benefit featuring music and drink specials, Fubar is rapidly becoming a favored dive for locals. “The crowd is well rounded,” said Cheyenne Kusterbeck, 23. “Theres a lot of cool people.” As the night went on and the dance floor filled up with young hipsters, it became more and more apparent that Turbo Tuesday has caught on and is here to stay. 5
Summer is just around the corner, and with so many of us flocking to beaches in bathing suits that barely cover 10% of our bodies, we thought you might like to know the drinks to avoid, and those to enjoy. Our resident bartender Brian Walsh explains how mixers and liquors can still be Jenny Craig certified! 7
If I had a nickle for every time I heard this, I wouldnt be a bartender. It seems like every girl alive wants to drink something sweet, but nothing that will violate whatever trender diet they’re doing this week, so Ive compiled a list of drinks that might help you navigate the bar a little bit better. Its summer, its hot, its sweaty, and you need a tall frosty one. Most of us are also trying to do so in a way that wont completely ruin our Weight Watchers count for the day. This makes the bar a slippery slope especially for those who like beer, or worse, sweet cocktails. A few rules to remember when selecting your spirits to prevent a rapid and sometimes unexpected gut to emerge: Yes. Tonic has calories. About 10 per fluid ounce, so if you have a Gin and tonic, at 8 ounces, youre getting 80 calories just from the mixer, not to mention the additional calories from the liquor itself. Clearer beverages, less calories. In most instances, clear beverages have fewer calories than those who are opaque with fruit juices. You don’t need tons of sugar to have a delicious drink. That’s why they make flavored liquors, it can help keep the calories down and the deliciousness up. Our first drink is the infamous, deplorable, and often underestimated Long Island Ice 8
Tea. This harbinger of hangovers actually has no tea in its recipe, but the clever splash of coke just at the end of the absurd amount of liquor gives it the appearance of a nice refreshing glass of summer fun. Unfortunately for those newbies who haven’t tasted its burning hatred for sober people, they assume the light, airy name is an indication of its benevolent nature. They would be wrong. More morning after facepalms and apology texts have been the results of Long Island’s than any respectable drinker is willing to admit. There aren’t many other ways to get so much liquor packed into a glass as the Long Island, but at a little over 200 calories more than a Big Mac, is it really worth it? Thanks sour mix, I can always count on you to stretch my jeans. The Margarita is our runner up for most calorie laden libation this year. Its sugary shenanigans lures in bitter, single thirty somethings like nerds to a Star Wars convention and usually results in the certain destruction of inhibitions. Ill concede the point that its sour mix base tempts the tongue’s more playful desires. As a marathon drinker, I must warn my readers that sugary anything is a sure fire way to be reminded of the laxative properties of sucrose, and the nausea associated with finishing an entire bag of Sweet Tarts in the first half of a movie.
So before taunting the tequila gods to smite thee, remember that this cocktail wont be less than 700 calories anywhere, ever. As far as drinks go, theres classic, and then theres “Oh, is it still 1995?” Whatever brought the Pina Colada into popularity should probably be killed. This coconut abomination is just a cruel joke to tropical nations everywhere. Also keep in mind that its creamy opaqueness is one major indication that its rummy goodness is masked behind the coconut milk’s deceptive mildness. This bad boy might actually be the most sinister drink on our list, since the garnish may as well be a stick of butter. A standard 8 ounce cocktail would be about 20 grams of fat. (That’s a hamburger. Just sayin’.)
The Mai Tai, a classic example of a drink most would think is a great alternative to one chock full of sour mix and all sorts of syrups – unfortunately, fruit juices are just as sugar saturated. Plus, how can you drink a Mai Tai?
It’s like drinking dissolved skittles… I would say about a quarter of the way through, any diabetic would be falling out of their chair in convulsions, and any normal human being has lost all taste in their mouth and is starting to see their life flash before their eyes as their insulin spikes to Chernobyl dangerous levels. Personally I dont understand this drink at all, and Id like to remind my readers that any self respecting calorie counter would have to lose an entire meal just to have one of these bad boys. So, before you go sucking down this fruity delight, think about that bowl of pasta you had all envisioned for dinner, because with this, its a distant dream. The Appletini, a classic substitute for a classic martini for all those cross legged young boys living in the dark confines of the closet. (And JD from Scrubs.) I cant say I don’t like the Appletini, but more as candy and less as a cocktail. Anyone who’s ever tried one knows it’s the liquid version of sour apple Jolly Ranchers, and theres no debating it. Apple Pucker and triple sec are the main flavorings in this one, and sometimes we give it an extra punch with some citron vodka. Its served with a cherry, because we know you like to relive the joy of childhood sundaes with this one. There are times that I hate my job, and Ill admit, choking one of these down to truly grasp its sweet and sour essence was one of the more unpleasant experiences Ive ever had on the clock.I dont really know what it is, maybe because Im so used to sour stuff being a joyous and nonalcoholic occasion? Whatever it is, we may never know. But this abomination of the most classic Martini is here to stay and mock the honor and heart of vodka as an entire genre of liquor. A shot of cuervo, I figured I’d have to put a shot in here. Plus, Im all for red headed sluts and what not, but theres a certain eloquence associated with a shot straight up. The golden goodness of Jose Cuervo is certainly a party-time shot, and tequila is a feared word among most drinkers unless they’re of Spanish origin. Standing strong at
just under 100 calories, this bad boy will get you there – faster. Tequila is a Latin liquor that is made from the Agave plant. Most high end tequilas are made with 100% blue Agave, which is just a fancy word for a more rare plant, which thanks to cultivation, isnt really that rare. We dont really know who decided that blue Agave is better than any of those other Agaves but, we’ll take their word for it, since this one already tasted like straight up fire. I think this is a good time to discuss mixers in general. I mean, theres healthy choices, and not so healthy choices. As I mentioned before, clearer usually means less calories, and that Tonic is the sneaky ninja of mixers. But what about fruit juices? Well, there are some numbers that might surprise you. So you want some delicious Screwdriver with your morning bagel? But shouldnt you opt for a vodka cranberry to get the hair of the dog in you? Well, it may surprise some of our readers that OJ has fewer calories than most bar cranberry juice mixes.
I know, right? Pure madness, but such is life. Ginger ale comes in at 10 calories per ounce, beating out every fruit juice and non-diet soda all together. And considering we all drink ginger ale to feel better when we’re sick, I can only see good things coming from drinking it as a mixer too! Theres classic Jameson & Ginger, but have you ever tried a full flavored rum with it? Its actually delightful. In the world of mixology, you use different liquors, liquers, (Yes, they’re different, but thats another story.) and mixers to achieve a balanced cocktail, much like cooking a finely flavored and well balanced meal. So as our tour of drinks continues, are you surprised yet? I mean, sure, we all know sugars are fattening, and though it is a sad realization for all of us, if it tastes good, its probably not good for us. However our next contender lacks both flavor and calories! Wait wait wait, is that Anheuser-Busch Natural Light? Definitely is. When I did my
research I just couldn’t resist throwing this beast in there. Anyone who’s ever played a game of beer pong knows that cheap swill is usually the only option since you’re in college. I was surprised to see that my old friend here actually beat Jose out for calories per ounce, and at just 95 calories for a 12 ounce can, I cant say it’s a bad choice for house parties. So just tell the ladies you were thinking of their figures, or don’t. Women are so unpredictable. And the winner is....
Rum and diet! How pissed are you?! I was kind of disappointed. This is definitely a hive-mind cocktail. Once one person orders it, theres surely to be about a bajillion others. Its like their subconscious craves it all of a sudden or something. But, even my snooty tastes will admit that its a classic as far as cocktails go. And it beat out all the other contenders for lowest calorie cocktail this season, so what can we do? Nothing. Just sit back and enjoy the extremely laborious job of finishing all of these cocktails now. Jealous? You should be. We hope this helps all of you calorie counters and Weight Watchers maintain those slightly-less than perfect bodies, and maybe this summer you wont burst out of your top so much. Who knows, girl, no one can stop you from dreaming! 9
As far as bars go, restricting your product to just wine and beer can often be the decision that ruins a business. Some people just can’t handle beer at all, and most wines aren’t exactly the best replacement for a fruity cocktail. But the Independent is a miracle bar that’s been fighting the stereotype for years. The Independent is a mostly import selection of horizon broadening brews that every bartender would be proud to serve. Dan Schmidt, a manager and bartender tells me about how they select their beers. “We try not to keep anything too often, it gets boring. Variety is the spice of life!” Prices at the Independent arent your typical $2 Bud Light drafts, but for anyone with a taste for well, anything, will tell you, the $6-$8 range is quite reasonable considering what youre getting. Saint Bernardus is my personal favorite, a stiff abbey ale with very warm sweetness, a product of ground water pumped from 150 meters, this is a truly unique animal. Though it is disappointing that it is sometimes unavailable, the knowledgeable staff always finds something comparable that I like just as much. Plus, there is something to be said for keeping it fresh when it comes to your beer selection, even
with such excellent beers. The décor is as swanky and no-nonsense as the product, the walls spattered with antique beer signs made of tin and wood. Theres even that bizarre bundle of twigs that is plainly explained by Schmidt: “Yea, that’s some art… I guess.” The gorgeous polished black marble bar and elegant beer taps are silhouetted by the almost eerie and imposing backlit far wall with all the fancy glasses for all the beers they serve. The right wall has microfiber benched seating raised slightly giving good conversation level to standing patrons at the high-top tables just in front of them. The opposite wall boasts the same granite countertop as the main bar and stools. Running the length of the middle of the room is a medieval looking bench made of hearty wood that’s probably older than I am and makes me feel like a Knight celebrating a victorious battle. The best part about the environment at the Independent is the people. There seems to be a great bit more of community and less shenanigans than most of the rest of the bar block. Any fist-pumping dude bros who stumble into the place are quickly turned off by the importprices and the typically audiophile indie jams pumping out of whichever employees iPod is plugged in that night. No popped collars, no
high-top kicks, and the lack of Affliction and Ed Hardy gear is refreshing. From time to time, a moustache to envy might appear amidst the many faces in and out of the Independent on any given night, and with them, funky hats and kitschy printed tees abound. If you’re lucky, you might even get a visit from the tornado that
is John Vellines, who flits around the bar talking with all the regulars and occasionally new comers if hes able. Though some people might call us beer snobs, those of us who know what a real beer should taste like also know exactly how valuable a great selection is. The Independent prides itself on having a selection of the world’s finest beers. Featuring a near complete lineup of Trappistes Rochefort 8, a small and difficult to get little devil if you’ve ever tried to track it down. Hobgoblin, a personal favorite of mine is often available in either bottle or draft depending on the availability and season in question. In classic import-lore, the people at Indie have Delirium Tremens quite consistently, and most wide eyed newcomers’ mouths water at the promise of its hallucinogenic qualities. (I’ve never found it to be true, but some say it’s undeniable.) As the night wore on and I proceeded to get the familiar feeling that I would regret my decision to stick around and make chit chat with people, I caught myself in love already with this wonderful bar. The colorful characters, the warm décor, and the delicious beers they served had me entranced. Theres a lot to be said for an unbiased bar review, explaining only the facts, and interpreting none of the details – but I think they miss a vital part of what makes a bar great: feeling a part of the community. Taverns and pubs are typically meeting places for locals to relax, share stories, and enjoy some drinks with friends, and the Independent is exactly that. On any given night you might run into John Vellines having a beer with some friends, or maybe the band playing at Janus that night. Most recently, the competing racers from the St. Petersburg Indy
were spotted throwing a few back the night after a big race. As I mentioned before, the employees usually have their own iPod’s plugged in to the sound system, which gives audiophile bartender Colleen Mullin the opportuniy to set the mood for the evening. “I can come in and put on my music, and it makes work more fun,” Mullin says. “Its probably my favorite part of working besides the conversations that come up.” When you’ve had your fill of sloppy drunk pre-teens at Mastry’s or the striped polo dudebros at Bishop’s, feel free to mosey on down 12
to the Independent. Its the only place on the bar-block that can offer a completely unqiue atmosphere, in lieu of its shady neighbors. Plus, lets be honest, if you have one more PBR from Fubar you’re probaby going to vomit, so treat yourself to a nice beer, even if it is $8. Oh, and on that note! A recent price-change has resulted in the average draught price being $5-6 instead of the usual $8-9. So before you turn your nose up and scoff while you sip your well vodka cranberry, check it out. Just cuz there are fidoras doesnt mean theyre snooty! Get in here!
Three Birds Tavern is the phoenix rising from the ashes of Limeys Pub. Purchased by Jack and Robin King in June of 2009, the restaurant has been a labor of love ever since. Slow but steady progress marks the concerted efforts of the owners and their staff to provide customers with a warm, welcoming, and fun atmosphere for enjoying food and drink. Anyone who had been to Limey’s before the change of hands might recall some stiff bench seating, absurdly dim lighting, and of course, the often grease laden cuisine. Three Birds Tavern has had a world of changes since the shaky open back in late summer of 2009. A new 18 tap draught system expanded their selection immensely bringing in classics like Magic Hat Number 9 and Carlsberg Lager. The menu, at first, was a humble collection of classic English dishes and some misnomers. The Sheppard’s pie, which contains no lamb, is technically a cottage pie, sealed with mashed potatoes and baked to a bubbly molten pile of goodness. Scotch eggs, a club sandwhich, and some chicken wraps round out the healthier choices of the selection and stayed stagnant with the exception of some specials until just recently. Domenica Nacchia has joined the team in the kitchen and brought with her a capable staff who seem to be beating the odds and breaking the stereotypes of their fore-cooks. The new menu boasts such exotic items as a New Zealand Lamb Burger
with cumin aioli, a smoked salmon sandwich with dill cream cheese, and short rib egg rolls with a Gorgonzola dip. Nacchia has taken the kitchen by storm, and has no apologies about losing the old menu in all of its classic glory. It seems that the team is trying to move the menu, and the clientele, towards the bistro feel, and in doing so may be losing some regular customers. Austin Arias, student at USF St. Petersburg says he is none too pleased with the changes. “I don’t need bacon onion jam on my burger; I just want a classic lettuce, tomato, onion burg-
er. With actual bacon,” said Arias. Where consistent daily specials would once bring in at least a group of regular patrons, higher prices and whole lack of specials seem to have their jimmies in a ruffle. Friday Fish
and Chips has been one that is sorely missed, though the new $13 dollar version is a more delicately battered and bigger cut filet. The Rib eye steak is now a finer cut of beef and makes for a hearty dinner. The Chef’s Chicken Fried Bacon is a hit with anyone willing to explore their deep-fried naughty side for an appetizer that will leave you wanting more. When we get into what really matters: the booze. We find a refreshing selection of classics that EVERYONE should be familiar with, but sadly are not. 18 draughts is a pretty serious selection for anyone, and for this oncea-house building, the taps dominate the once-a-livingroom. Anywhere from Guinness to Spaten Pilsner, they can usually accommodate tastes that run the gamut. Boddingtons Pub Ale, Bass, Harp, and Fullers Extra Special Bitters are just a few examples. A full bar sparkles in the wooden corner of the bar backlit with rope lights and sings songs of trampy boys and girls mingling merrily on the south patio. The bartenders are entertaining and friendly as well as knowledgable and helpful when it comes to selecting your next drink. Prices tend to settle out around $6 per drink, be it liquor or beer. The hours have been a bit wobbly lately with some slower nights resulting in an early close. Though its not the message they want to send, theres really no arguing that theres no point in staying open in off season mid-week nights. 14
This is no popcollar, fist pumping occasion, but youll be sure to find a lot of people mingling around the bar on ant given night. Happy hour stretches from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the regulars rarely miss a minute of it. $2.25 domestic bottles and wells, and a dollar off every draught in the house, its hard not to slip in for a pint or two just before sundown. But, in another show of its strange dichotomy, Three Birds Tavern is kind of renound for its late night rushes. Around 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., youll be surprised to see a little parade of patrons come pouring in from downtown. “I think they just get bored of being downtown, so they mosey on up here for a change of scenery,” said Melissa Carden, waitress at Three Birds. A major drawback of the establishment as a whole is the mostly outdoor seating, but ceiling fans line the entire deck and an industrial fan stands diligent in front of the restrooms pointed deliberately at the bar to keep equally diligent drinkers as cool as possible. (Can’t have them passing out from heat exhaustion before they pay their tabs!) The overall atmosphere of Three Birds is hard to pin down. On the north side it’s a restaurant, on the south side it’s a (often rowdy) bar. The
food has become an amalgam of newly inter preted classics and other items that border on the almost art nouveau. As a drinking spot, plan on visiting early and having conversation with friends. The clientele range anywhere from older neighborhood residence, to newlyweds with newborns trying to figure out how to convince their kid that Fontina cheese is just fancy American. It’s a great place to have a few drinks and an inventive appetizer with friends on a weekday, or a get-sloppy watering hole on the weekends. Depending on your style, they have it all at the Tavern, and in some ways, that’s why its awesome. There will surely always be a sluggish, whining group of old-regulars that miss the good ol’ days when overdone Scotch eggs were finger food, but it is now again an acceptable dinner location. Its hard to say what to expect from the Tavern, in the end. They opened out of season, and managed to survive. They keep their prices higher than most places outside of downtown and maintain an image of a classier clientelle than the neighboring Ringside Cafe or Wilson’s. They’ve managed to have it all, and, beyond anyones expectation, its working.
but when I do, I do not drink dos equis. So often these dark times pull domestic, piss-water wool over our cocktail-hour eyes. We sit for dinner and order Mich-Ultra because its safe and we are almost guaranteed that it will be on the beer list. We pair swill with sirloin, and remark how refreshing it is to wash down our $20 steak with a $3 beer. Now, if you’ve ever calculated leagues in dating by a numerical system, you’ll see there’s some flaw in this. Places like the Independent and Three Birds Tavern exist because there is a quiet revolution happening all around us. An uprising in the streets and pubs… A clientele demanding flavor over affordability, and in a remarkable twist of glorious fate, the bars that serve this eye-opening products are actually doing so at already affordable rates! Holy. Miracle. Batman. Places like Cigar City Brewery out of Ybor (featured in next issue) stand like beacons in the dark night that has fallen over all our taps, and they’re getting noticed all over the country by people who know what they’re talking about; like me. As the ever-classy drunkard editor of this, the most eloquent nightlife publication in Tampa Bay, I am constantly surrounded by uniquely flavored and processed drinkables that keep me guessing, and drinking. And further more is the environment in which you choose to do that drinking. This isn’t just about having a drink, its about having an experience within that drink. Its about the things that all people are connected by, and just above food on that scale is the drink. At least on our list. I hope that my teams guiding light will bring you the rebel message and ignite the flame of resistance to our twist-top Anheuser-Busch, ultra-light dictatorship that has ruled over us for too long! Rise up my brothers and sisters! And raise a glass to the modern renaissance! Don’t forget to tip. Yours overzealously, Brian Walsh.
St. Petersburg's guide to Nightlife and Dining