10 bars worth a drive

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  • Four Green Fields exterior horizontal

    From authentic Irish pubs to a girls-gone-wild beach spot to a country club with a mechanical bull in Tampa, here are 10 bars worth visiting

    Drinking destinations

    There are many perks to imbibing at the neighborhood pub. Mainly, the short walk or cheap cab ride home. But sometimes it’s nice to do your drinking somewhere special, surrounded by a fresh set of faces. Here’s a highly subjective tally of 10 bars worth a designated driver or, better yet, booking a room at a nearby hotel.

  • Caddys courtesy

    9000 W. Gulf Blvd, Sunset Beach, (727) 360-4993; caddysotb.com

    Caddy's on the Beach

    It’s pretty much non-stop-spring-break-style partying at Caddy’s, located on its own private beach so you can walk right up to the water while toting that rum runner. The food is serviceable and watching the sunset, especially form the second floor deck, is amazing; but the main reason people frequent Caddy’s is to see and be seen wearing next to nothing – and to legally drink right on the beach.

  • Celtic Ray HT Archives 2012

    145 E. Marion Ave, Punta Gorda; 916-9115; celticray.net

    Celtic Ray

    This genuine Irish “public house” in downtown Punta Gorda opened in 1997 and holds the distinction of being the first business in the city to reopen after Hurricane Charley battered Charlotte County in 2004. I know, because I was there, drinking Guinness after filing a story about how this beautiful pub had survived despite sunlight pouring in from where a roof once stood. In addition to a full liquor bar teeming with Emerald Isle libations, Kevin Doyle’s establishment serves traditional Irish pub favorites made from fresh ingredients and family recipes.

  • Cigar City alan shaw 2010

    3924 West Spruce St., Tampa, (813) 348-6363; cigarcitybrewing.com

    Cigar City Tasting Room

    For the craft beer crowd, bars don’t get any better than this one in Tampa. Cigar City Tasting Room is where the state’s most venerable brewery offers all of its award-winning beers such as Jai Alai, Maduro  and Hotter Than Helles; plus a couple of guest taps, too. Grab a pint, some pub grub – they just started serving food and I’m told the pressed Cuban is killer – and maybe a growler for the road.

  • Dallas Bull courtesy

    3322 U.S. 301, Tampa; (813) 987-2855; dallasbull.com

    Dallas Bull

    Welcome to honky tonk heaven. Introduced to Tampa in 1979, and proudly boasting the title of “the largest honky-tonk east of the Mississippi,” the Dallas Bull features 99 restroom stalls, 10 full-liquor bars, six pool tables, three dart boards, two dance floors and a mechanical bull. Over the years its hosted performances by country stars like Luke Bryan, Eric Church, John Anderson and Tracy Byrd.

  • Ferg's HT archives

    1320 Central Ave, St Petersburg, (727) 822-4562; fergssportsbar.com

    Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill

    Located in the shadow of Tropicana Field, Ferg’s is the top spot for Tampa Bay Rays pre and post-game partying. With its 70-plus TVs, full-liquor bar, tasty wings, loud music and enough space to almost accommodate the average crowd attending Rays games these days, there’s always fun to be had at Ferg’s.

  • Four Green Fields courtesy 1

    205 W. Platt St, Tampa; (813) 254-4444; fourgreenfields.com

    Four Green Fields

    Proudly billing itself as "America's only authentic thatched roof pub," Four Green Fields lives up to its ultra-genuine rep with no TVs, the best in Irish booze and beer, excellently tradition Irish pub dishes and performances over the years by Irish music greats such as Tommy Makem, The Prodigals and Sinead O'Connor. Plus, a large percentage of the outstanding staff is from Ireland and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has frequented Four Green Fields.

  • The Hub courtesy photo

    719 N Franklin St., Tampa; (813) 229-1553; thehubbartampa.com  

    The Hub

    The most legendary dive bar in all of Tampa Bay, this downtown drinking den that has been around since 1946 is where the homeless and hipsters, the professionals and the paupers come to enjoy famously strong cocktails and cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon

  • Hyde Park Cafe courtesy

    1801 W. Platt St, Tampa; (813) 254-2233; thehydeparkcafe.com

    Hyde Park Cafe

    Since the mid-1990s, Hyde Park Café has been one of the hottest nightspots in Tampa with Tuesdays being the big event at the bar/nightclub frequented by everyone from Michael Jordan to Derek Jeter and former “American Idol” contestant Jessica Sierra, who hurled a glass at a customer while at Hyde Park Cafe, which led to a night in jail.

  • New World Brewery courtyard

    1313 E. 8th Ave, Tampa; (813) 248-4969; newworldbrewery.net

    New World Brewery

    This fabulously funky, indoor/outdoor oasis in Ybor City features an outstanding craft beer selection, the best hand-picked jukebox in the region (plus it’s free), live music most weekend nights as well as terrific pizza and startling good barbecue.

  • Vinoy HT archives

    501 5th Ave NE, St Petersburg; (727) 894-1000; marriott.com

    Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club

    Even if you’re not staying at the gorgeous, historic (some say haunted) Vinoy near the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg, you can still enjoy a marvelous creation like a mojito from the Veranda Bar or luxurious libations and first-rate food at Alfresco.