Tryst Gastro Lounge’s chefs draw in diners with their roast duck breast with maple glaze, which helped earn them recognition as one of America's Most Popular High End Restaurants in 2012 on Urbanspoon.com. Behind the full bar, Logan Owens, the Tampa Bay Times’ Ultimate Bartender in 2012, also does his share to lure customers as he crafts specialty cocktails with muddled fresh fruit, herbs, and spirits. Owens infuses a pear lychee-tini with lychee purée and sake or custom blends an off-menu libation dubbed a "Logan Special," which he designs to suit each imbiber's palate. Tufted leather booths inside the black-and-white-wallpapered dining area absorb posteriors while taste buds absorb cocktails. Alternately, the outdoor patio gives guests the chance to raise their glasses up high in a toast to clouds that look like Winston Churchill.
Ruby's speakeasy-style cantina slings frothy brews and heady cocktails against the velvety melodies of live jazz and blues crooners. Jazz jams on Monday nights highlight some of the area's most notable brass blowers, providing a stellar soundtrack for sipping on a slew of bottled beers ($2.95–$5.95), voluptuous vinos ($6.95 / house wines, $10.95 / upper-level varietals), and craft suds and ciders from Magic Hat, Stella Artois, and Strongbow ($4.95). Air-trumpet along to the infectious melodies bursting from Lounge Cat's weekly sets while raising a spiced-pear or espresso martini ($8.95) to the Ruby's pin-up style décor and bronzed collection of discarded mouthpieces and pork-pie hats.
A cultural fixture in the islands of the South Pacific, kava is derived from the roots of the Piper methysticum, and is typically consumed at a nakamal, or central village meeting area. Bula Kafe transports these traditions to the shores of the Florida Gulf, filling coconut shells with the cool beverage and serving them at its outdoor commons. Known for its medicinal properties, the kava root is first ground into powder and then steeped in water, resulting in an elixir that helps calm the body and relieve anxiety brought on by a phobia of dry powder. Along with traditional kava beverages, the bamboo-framed hut purveys such hot and cold delights as spiced chai, fruit smoothies, and frozen horchata.
Set amid an all-outdoor bar, Bula Kafe turns up the fans during hot months and warms its barstools with space heaters and tiki torches during the winter. Throughout the entire year, guests enjoy bouts of table tennis and darts, or compete in high-stakes sessions of board games such as Apples to Apples and Battleship as others strum on acoustic guitars, sip silently as they read a book, or surf the internet on free WiFi. Though the listed closing times are midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends, the staff is known for accommodating late revelers with advance notice.
It's easy to both start and end a night at Blue Martini. During the early hours of the evening, guests can catch the last rays of sun on the patio as they dine on light fare such as fruit-and-cheese plates and flatbread pizzas. This lightness is necessary, because once the sun goes down, guests have to be light on their feet as the lounge turns into a full-on dance party. From then until closing time, guests can keep their energy up with glasses of wine or one of the house's 42 signature cocktails. The bartenders shake, stir, and blend together ingredients to make these drinks, which range from skinny-raspberry mojitos that contain less than 250 calories to the lightly flavored key-lime-pie martini or cucumber lemonade.
Where there's smoke, there's a fiery Groupon. Fill your lungs with one night of unlimited fruity deliciousness at the plush and swanky Meridian Hookah Lounge (a $12 value). Meridian is an intimate and relaxing lounge that's open until 3 a.m. and has live music several nights a week.