Filled with 50 tons of carved ice and most recently inspired by Ernest Shackleton's failed Antarctic expedition, Icebar's 27-degree, bacchanalian winterscape earned itself a feature in Frommer's and a spot on the Travel Channel's list of The World's Coolest Bars. After bundling up with gloves and jackets or in rentable faux fur coats, guests can spend up to 45 minutes touring the room's collection of frozen sculptures, floes, and sled-dog huts, raising toasts to their favorites with glasses made entirely out of ice. Frozen stools covered with seal fur line the bar, where mixologists pour frosty cocktails and root around for two identical snowflakes.
The adjacent Fire Lounge allows visitors to warm up afterward by snagging a drink from the full-service bar or bobbing their heads to the mixes of DJ Sher-khan. The pulsing sound system helps to get blood flowing again while lasers and strobe lights scan the room for any escaped snowglobes.
A self-described ?gastrolounge,? Hammerheads Beer and Wine Bar serves up creative, satisfying pub dishes alongside craft beers and frozen cocktails. Its dishes add a subtle, upscale twist to pub mainstays: kaiser rolls are filled with bourbon pulled pork, and corn dog balls are wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon before meeting their fate in the deep fryer. Boneless chicken wings and their cousin, a breaded chicken-breast sandwich, are carried to tables atop beds of savory coated french fries or sweet potato fries.
Alternating red and yellow walls create a cheery atmosphere, as does the collection of surfboards and pictures scattered throughout the pub. Regular karaoke nights challenge patrons to lock vocal cords with their buddies and demonstrate their crowd-pleasing prowess by making up choreography to accompany each song. Hammerheads also offers a variety of entertainment options each week, including movie nights, live music, and live interactive shows.
Unlike restaurants where drinks are an afterthought, Draft Orlando makes them an integral part of each meal. They stock their marble-topped bar with 40 draft beers and 100 bottled selections. In October of 2011, Orlando magazine restaurant critic Joseph Hayes recognized their efforts, stating, "whatever food you are contemplating, there is probably a matching beer." Hayes goes on to laud the eatery for its "well-executed takes on pub food like fish and chips and impressive crab-cake sliders." The chefs also branch out from classic pub cuisine by deep-frying calamari and sprinkling flatbreads with toppings such as Angus rib-eye steaks, which they age for 21 days.
The restaurant's walls incorporate geometric textures, and, depending on the time, the interior can be lit by everything from natural light to the gentle luminance of flat-screen TVs displaying staff screen savers of their pet rocks.
Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant not only imports ingredients and products, but also recipes. With roots in northern Spain and Catalonia, these dishes come together on a menu of more than 100 hot and cold tapas selections, along with paella and cazuela. Paella, a widely varied rice dish cooked at length in a wide pot over open flame, can contain Serrano ham, scallops, pork, chorizo, and saffron rice the stunning golden hue of an alchemist's magazine advertisements. Though the restaurant spans multiple locations, each one presents guests with some charming element: a poolside patio at the Tampa location, a central tapas bar in Orlando, and a flamenco room in St. Petersburg. Meanwhile, no matter the location, events bring about live music and joviality, all supported by an ample list of Spanish and Portuguese wines.
When discussing his teaching philosophy with reporters from Central Florida Lifestyle, the owner of Salsa Heat quipped, "if you can walk, you can dance." He himself didn't know much about dancing when he took his first salsa class in the early 90's, but he caught on after just a few sessions, falling in love with the dance's energetic spins and rhythmic movements.
Today, a team of professional dance instructors teach salsa spins and footwork to students of all experience levels. Zumba and bachata classes provide tutoring in other Latin dance styles, and salsa classes for kids teach youngsters dance fundamentals that hone coordination and motor skills. Throughout the year, the staff hosts special events on their spacious dance floors, such as salsa socials, salsa Christmas parties, and salsa-infused celebrations of Robert Heinlein's birthday.
It's no wonder Vines gives equal weight to "Grille" and "Wine Bar" in its name. The Restaurant Row anchor is hugely popular for its top-quality meats and fresh-caught seafood; a meal could begin with grilled octopus or oysters Rockefeller before transitioning to a cut of Prime filet. But the wine list is at least as impressive, a catalogue of 600-plus bottles from around the world that's been recognized with a Wine Spectator Best Award of Excellence. After dinner on any given night, guests can linger over a fine cigar or a gentlemanly mouthful of chewing gold as they listen to live jazz music from the likes of Tonya Phillips Staples and Barbara Walker.