Do you want your rum cocktail with or without that cute little paper umbrella?
Thatched roofs, bar stools and crazy concoctions, made with lots of potent rum, are what you’ll find at these old and new tiki bars. Set on the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, these Florida bars continue to attract the party folk. It doesn’t have to be happy hour to visit any of the on-the-edge-of-the-water bars, where making new friends gets easier with every sip.
Isle Tiki Bar, Islamorada
Back in the day the old salts packed this bar at the Holiday Isle Resort. And even after a 21st century face-lift and rebranding turned the property into the Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina, the outdoor Holiday Isle Tiki Bar with its thatched roof and vistas of the Atlantic Ocean continues to draw a crowd.
The Drink: Nothing will do but a Rum Runner, which supposedly was invented here.
Casey Key Tiki Bar, south of Sarasota
Any Saturday afternoon, the hogs are lined up roadside at the Casey Key Tiki Bar. Perched on an island between Casey Key and the mainland, the open-air bar is packed with the regulars in T-shirts and shorts and the visitors with signature Tommy Bahama attire. Squeeze in under the fringed roof or hang out on the little beach in the back, where doggies are welcome.
The Drink: A pina colada on a hot sunny day works really well in this setting.
Stan’s Idle Hour, Goodland near Marco Island
If you’re on Marco Island on a Sunday, you have to make the drive to Goodland, an obscure spot made famous by the late Stan Gober when he opened Stan’s Idle Hour almost 30 years ago. This is a let your hair down kind of place where folks arrive by boat, bike and Benz to party the afternoon away with live music and curious conversation.
The Drink: You got to have the signature Stan’s Buzzard Punch, a concoction of light and dark rums, orange and pineapple juice and splashes of grenadine and sour mix.
Definitely one of Florida’s more sophisticated choices, Guanabanas’ horseshoe-shaped bar is tucked behind thick tropical foliage under a palm-fringed roof just steps from the Loxahatchee River. Locals, from boaters to golfers, mix with visitors. During season, February to May, the line’s out the door.
The Drink: Topping the list is the My Wave Mojito, made with the Dominican Republic’s Atlantico Platino rum, muddled mint, lime juice and sugarcane.
Lido Key Tiki Bar, Sarasota
This tiki bar is right on the sand, so stroll on over sans sandals. One of the oldest around, the traditional Lido Key Tiki Bar was saved from bulldozers in 2003 by preservationists with help from the Ritz-Carlton, which now owns it. Guests from the hotel’s nearby beach club mingle with the locals who love this breezy Gulf-front spot.
The Drink: Hurricane Category 5 is one of the strongest drinks served here. Banana, coconut, mango and pineapple rums get a 151-proof-rum floater, and the mix of orange, pineapple and cranberry juices disguises its potent character.