Consumatorium Reviews: Orlando Craft Cocktail Bars

Drink at Hanson'sRecently, we found ourselves in Orlando, Florida and, as usual, set out on a mission to identify the best Orlando Craft Cocktail Bars. As it turns out, Orlando, like several other Florida cities we’ve visited, has a great craft cocktail scene. No, none of them are at Disney World, although a drunk Mickey would be a great logo. Apparently, there is a rule in the city that bars are licensed and taxes collected based on the doors to the establishments rather than the the size, shape or arrangement of the facility, itself. So, if a few bars share the same door, they get licensed and taxed as if they were one.

As a result, some enterprising people have bought or rented old buildings that are a maze of interconnected spaces, but all share at least one entrance together. In these places, they build out multiple bars. Each one of these is small, cozy and because of the focus on cocktails, great at mixing drinks.

While we were there, we visited:

Each of the bars was small – very small – with great ambiance and fantastic bartenders who wanted to talk with us about the drinks they make and why they use the ingredients they do. Each one of them was happy to mix a new drink based on what we like rather than what they have listed on their bar menu. Herman’s and Hanson’s are examples of a trend we’re seeing all over the place. Bars are being named for the businesses that occupied the building they’re in from the past. Herman’s was a bank and Hanson’s was, well, a shoe repair shop.

Our first stop was The Courtesy, which claims to be the first craft cocktail bar in Orlando. The bartender talked with us about the myriad of foreign ingredients stocked behind the bar and why certain ingredients work together. A sign of a bartender who enjoys his craft.

Herman's Loan OfficeNext, we hit Herman’s and met a terrific bartender, Maria, who gladly synthesized drinks from a list of favorites we offered up. The drinks were excellent. When we asked about favorite gins, she happily let us try some and even introduced us to a new tonic syrup she was using and highly recommended. She also told us that she was the bartender at Hanson’s the next evening. So we made it our next target.

Hanson's Shoe RepairHanson’s is one of multiple bars in a single building and requires that you tweet them ahead of time to get the password to get in (shhh – @hansonsshoeshop). Sorta a modern cut on a speakeasy. When you do get in, you’re escorted by two other bars before you find Hanson’s way upstairs. Maria was their and mixed us a couple more fantastic drinks.

We also had some great drinks at a few fantastic restaurants:

All are highly recommended. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hit all the highly-ranked cocktail bars in town. Next time, we’ll also visit:

Winter Warmer Cocktail

 

As the days are getting colder and the nights downright freezing, I wanted to create a drink that cut through the temperatures and warmed people up from the inside. It needed a whiskey base which I paired with our in-your-face Ginger Simple Syrup (you can find all our Simple Syrup recipes here) and added some tartness with lemon juice. I then rounded it out with heavy touch of Absinthe.

Although my goal was to make a strong, whiskey dominated drink, it doesn’t come off that way at all. In fact, the drink is amazingly smooth. I give some of the credit to my whisky of choice, Buffalo Trace, but also to the offsetting taste of the ginger and lemon. The Absinthe just adds complexity and, while a little heavy-handed in the drink, works well.

Winter Warmer Cocktail Recipe

Rocks Glass

      • 2-1/2 oz Bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace)
      • 1/2 oz Ginger Simple Syrup
      • 1/2 oz Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
      • 1/4 oz Absinthe

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake until cold. Serve straight up in a rocks glass.

Consumatorium Reviews: Cuban Cocktail Adventures

Hotel Nacional de Cuba - Outside

When most of us think of Cuba, we have a romantic mental image made up of scenes from the 1950s, perhaps including Al Pacino visiting on the eve of the revolution (Godfather reference). A place full of nightclubs, casinos and, of course, bars where … [Continue reading]

Cinco de Mayo Tequila Primer

Paloma

Want to show off your extensive knowledge of tequila to all your drinking buddies on Cinco de Mayo? As always, we're here to help. Check out the infographic below while you sit back and enjoy a glass of Extra Añejo Tequila (100% blue agave only!). … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Craft Bars in Budapest, Hungary

Smoked Cocktail

During our recent, very brief stop in Budapest, Hungary, we found the craft bar scene surprisingly good, but we were disappointed to find out that during our Sunday/Monday visit to the city, several of the best bars were closed. Undaunted, we found a … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Craft Bars in Scottsdale, Arizona

Virtù - Scottsdale

The cocktail scene in Scottsdale is excellent. In addition to the fact that there are many craft cocktail bars, most of the bars also offer a happy hour where drinks are often considerably discounted. To our surprise, it isn’t only the well drinks … [Continue reading]

Making Your Own Grenadine

Grenadine Containers

One of the great, fun parts about visiting craft bars is that you get to talk with bartenders who truly enjoy what they're doing and who are, generally, very open to sharing what they know. One of the big secrets I often hear from craft bartenders is … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Craft Bars in Berlin, Germany

Windhorst Bar, Berlin, Germany

Just down the street from Checkpoint Charlie in what used to be known as East Berlin, is a quickly growing area of new bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Contrary to its long term austerity during Soviet occupation, it has become a young, hip and … [Continue reading]

Fig-Infused Bourbon

Fig-Infused Bourbon

As we've discussed before, infusing your booze seems intimidating and maybe even difficult. Trust me when I tell you it's not. I know from personal experience - I'm inherently lazy, after all. To prove it to you, one of my drinks is named Apathy, and … [Continue reading]

Simple Syrup – The Step-by-Step Guide

Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is, perhaps, the most basic and commonly used syrup employed in making craft cocktails. It adds the touch of sweetness that helps create balance and depth in the taste of many drinks. While you may see recipes that list synthetic "sweet … [Continue reading]