When French native Joel Martin was young, his family moved to Africa. While there, Joel learned to stalk many jungle creatures including crocodiles with the help of his Malgache friends. Years later, in 1995, Martin packed up his own family and moved them to Florida, where the heat and humidity reminded him of his beloved childhood in Africa. Today he owns and operates Black Hammock Adventures, located near some of Orlando's busiest attractions, and charters picturesque airboat rides on the waters of Lake Jesup. His boat, equipped with Goliath's desk fan, skims earplugged riders past lake fauna at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. During rides, experienced guides pilot the vessel safely through narrow creeks and shallow wetlands, and help tourists to spot wildlife and at times, sunning reptiles. After zooming by the scenery, guests can stop by Black Hammock's free wildlife exhibit, enjoy a lively libation at the Lazy Gator Bar with live music every weekend, sit down at the full service restaurant featuring Executive Chef Barth that is known for its fried gator tail, or hand over their cameras as they pose for pictures with a live baby alligator or barter for an autograph with hunks of raw meat.
The view of Florida wildlife from the lakeview terrace at The Lazy Gator Bar needs no food or drinks to make it worthwhile. Over buckets of beers and colorful mixed drinks resting on tables, the setting sun casts an orange-pink glow that adds a charming touch to the airboats coming in from a tour. This glow even makes the 8- and 9-foot-long alligators?who soak in a pool at the live gator and bird exhibit adjoining Black Hammock Gift Shop?look friendly. Waiters bring out bar snacks from the restaurant, while guests to linger over drinks as bands play live music on weekends.
Hugo Joe’s seasoned culinarians answer the persistent calls of hungry bellies with a menu brimming with flame-licked specialties from the U.S. and around the globe seven days a week. Discuss the many traits of the multifarious cucumber over a pile of tangy fried pickles with sour cream ($4.99) before making your way to a hearty oven-baked chicken parmigiana sub ($7.49) or a texas burger, a veggie-and-swiss-topped slab of succulence nestled between slices of texas toast ($8.99). For a taste of Italy that doesn’t require an ample licking of a world atlas, order one of the shrimp and pasta dishes ($15.99) or opt for the baked ziti covered in three cheeses and house sauce ($10.49). The wings ($6.49/half-dozen), coated with a choice of sauce, target mouths in the mood for bison airfoils. Stamp a palette’s passport with the mark of Switzerland sans ink with a wienerschnitzel ($14.49), or conquer a bucket of Hugo Joe’s signature oysters ($24.99).
Though the days of secretive drinking during Prohibition are long gone, secrets still abound during Speak Easy Sundays at The Hourglass Brewery. By whispering each Sunday?s password to the bartender, patrons gain access to discounted craft beers until 11 p.m. and get their name added to J. Edgar Hoover?s enemy list. Other drink specials are available throughout the week, when libations from top craft breweries like Dogfish Head and Lost Coast flow from taps and bottles. Of course, Hourglass also supplies brews made in-house, from traditionally hoppy IPAs to ales flavored with butternut squash and cinnamon. Food trucks complement the pours every Friday; in upcoming months, Hourglass? taproom will even share space with Pape Bee?s and Wako Taco.