Bar Tab: Jake's Tavern in Sarasota
If you’re ever in the mood for a shooter, or, better yet, a battalion of shooters featuring all kinds of liquor and numerous non-alcoholic ingredients, check out Jake's Tavern. Found in a strip mall two doors down from a pawn shop on Clark Road in Sarasota, there’s a board of handwritten shot specials hanging behind the bar. A big, permanent menu of specialty shots adorns a nearby wall. I could have a $3 shot simply called “Hot stuff!” and chase it with another, for $2, that’s “Stoli chocolate raspberry.” There are many mores shot choices. They range from appealing and tasty to potentially disgusting and most definitely dangerous. I decline.
I’m day drinking and don’t feel it would be right pounding shots at 3 p.m.; although, it’s dark enough inside Jake's Tavern that it feels like at least early evening. But it’s not. It’s a Thursday afternoon and I'd feel awfully foolish if my amazing wife Kristin had to come scoop me up from all the way in West Bradenton. I’m going to avoid those shooters, even the ones that sound as harmless as a scoop of ice cream.
Seated at the far end of the bar, I spot a large sign that reads: “Happy hour 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day!” Premium wells are $3.50 and the premium well vodka is the very drinkable Three Olives. I order it with tonic and a lime; a fine vodka ‘n‘ tonic with a nice kick but no too strong, for those of you who believe there are such things as cocktails that are “too strong.”
Beverage in hand, I study the room, because that’s about your only option when it’s your first time at a place and you are all alone and not feeling particularly chatty. There is a bunch of flat screen TVs above the bar but it’s all sports highlights I’ve already seen or have no desire to see. I observe the crowd of 10 that have gathered around the bar.
There’s a couple playing trivia on one of the TVs. The woman smokes, heavily, and drinks Bay Breezes (vodka, cranberry and pineapple juice). The man who appears to be her husband also smokes - it’s a smoky bar even with the high ceilings - and drinks a pint of what appears to be domestic beer. It’s hard to determine by their expressions and barely audible conversation who is winning. If Kristin was beating me at trivia, foosball, billiards or any of the other games at Jake’s Tavern, people would know. I’m not graceful, or quiet, about losing.
Marshall Tucker Band’s “Heard it in a Love Song” comes on and I smile to myself at the sweet-sounding melody with the vaguely melancholy lyric about moving on. The song was released a year before I was born. It’s one of my dad’s favorite songs and I like it, too. I order a pint of Yuengling, which costs a mere $2, and admire the large stage on the opposite side of the bar.
Upcoming acts include “DJ Mystery” and a band called “Didges Christ Super Drum.” I think “Didges” might be a misspelling until I pull up “Didges Christ Super Drum” on my phone. “Didges Christ Super Drum comes from the city of Murdvaw on the planet Grok,” reads the band’s bio. The music coming out of my tiny cell phone speakers, the music of Didges Christ Super Drum, is pure gloom that sounds created by deranged robots. OK, so I’ll pass on Didges Christ Super Drum.
But it’s nice to know that Jake’s Tavern is a terrific place for some quality - and by quality, I mean awesomely inexpensive - day drinking. After an hour-plus of enjoyable people watching and Marshall Tucker Band, Talking Heads, The Rolling Stones and several other great bands playing on a jukebox I never quite locate, I have spent a grand total of $5.50, $7.50 with tip, which, at most places in, say, downtown Sarasota, won’t even get you a single drink. So, yeah, I’d like to return to Jake’s Tavern for the day drinking deals and maybe even go crazy on those shooters - but only if Kristin agrees to be the designated driver and nurse me though the next 72 hours of hangover hell.
Jake's Tavern, 3218 Clark Road, Sarasota; 921-6875