With free wine tastings all day Monday through Saturday and beer tastings on Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons, Tapping The Vine lubricates taste buds with its extensive collection of lesser-known libations and globally imported specialty wines and craft beers. Browse aisles brimming with fermentation favors and malted liquid gold while the friendly staff offers helpful suggestions to determine if customers' palates might prefer the tarty taste of a Wallace Brooks pinot gris ($16) or the bittersweet chocolatey Charles Smith Velvet Devil merlot ($16), among other white, red, and dessert wines. Barley buffs can analyze the feel of various brews, such as the flavorful Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar ($6.99) and organic Scarecrow golden pale ale ($4.69). Like the mouths of famous rappers, Tapping The Vine wouldn't be complete without an assortment of accessories, including professional-grade bottle openers ($9) and champagne stoppers ($5).
Bedrock Cafe serves up a menu of mammoth-sized bar eats and cold beer in a lively sports bar environs. Guests can start game night off right with smothered fries ($7.49), heaped with cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, and creamy ranch dressing. Wings ($6.95 for 10) come in a myriad of flavors, such as mild, medium, hot, blackened, cajun garlic crystal, BBQ, pterodactyl, and more. Dig into archaeological good taste with the Bedrock Philly hot sandwich ($7.95), or nosh on a classic 8 oz. flame broiled burger ($5.95) with cole slaw, pickle, and French fries. The catfish fingers seafood platter ($6.95) lets one embrace whiskery underwater creatures without the risks of tickling your cheeks. Although catching a grueling baseball defeat over a meal might deplete morale, troops can rally with a karaoke round of “Don’t Stop Believing” on Wednesday nights, while geometry hotshots can prove their mathematical prowess on the pool table.
The independent Evolution stimulates the Lakeland scene by selling an eclectic selection of both mainstream and underground music while providing an intimate venue for local and touring musicians to present their craft. Evolution's stock consists of T-shirts ($10+), CDs and vinyl records ($1+), and posters for music fans to coat their empty walls with artist admiration. Peruse Evolution's thousands of vinyls, from timeless classics, including The Beatles and AC/DC, to exciting new artists (though Bob Dole's ambient-metal album is currently sold out). Evolution hosts shows nearly every weekend, featuring artists advancing the cause of rock, hip-hop, folk, and more.
In order to enter Brew Hounds Sports Lounge, one has to pass between murals of a football field and basketball court. Inside, flat-screen televisions glow with the day's games, blending with the neon of beer signs. Visitors looking to create some competition of their own will find it at the row of electronic dart boards, upon the pool table, or staring into the Yuengling mirror, waiting for the stranger on the other side to blink.
The Rack boasts impressive lunch, dinner, sushi, and cocktail menus at both the Hyde Park and Brandon eateries. House favorites include the Bomber ($12.95–$14.95), a specialty sushi roll of cooked and uncooked delights (snow crab, avocado, and asparagus topped with salmon, tuna, and eel sauce) served with tempura chips. Or blast through hunger with the Volcano roll’s cucumber, crab, cream cheese, avocado, eel sauce, and spicy mayo ($12.95–$13.95). Fusion appetizers, salads, sandwiches, single rolls, and chef special entrees round out The Rack's eclectic menus into a rolling billiard ball made of sticky rice.