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Drink

Best of Another Round DIY pub crawls

Aimee Vitek shares favorites from her monthly drinking excursions

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There’s something about the final days of December that tends to bring on the holiday warm-and-fuzzies, along with well-intended visions of maybe, finally, sticking to that New Year’s resolution. I get it, especially being as 2014 sees a lot of change for me personally. After six years, I will soon be leaving Orlando and moving to Miami with hopes of living out sunny daydreams farther south.

Of course, there are many things I’ll miss about the City Beautiful, and after embarking on monthly DIY pub-crawling excursions for nearly a year now in this Another Round column, it just wouldn’t be right to leave O-town without sharing my favorite bar-hopping experiences. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

I kicked off Another Round last February by cozying up with my husband at a host of valentine-worthy bars in downtown Orlando – one of which, the craft cocktail-centered Courtesy Bar (114 N. Orange Ave.), was an ideal spot to nuzzle in a corner while sipping on New York sours.

The springtime led me through near-downtown neighborhood crawls, with stops at Ivanhoe Village staples such as the furniture store-slash-bar Imperial at Washburn Imports (1800 N. Orange Ave.). In April, we detoured north for a fresh sangria fix at Hannibal Square’s BARcelona (433 W. New England Ave., Winter Park), before facing day-drinking Cinco de Mayo shenanigans in College Park, complete with pickle shots on the patio at Ollie’s Public House (3400 Edgewater Drive).

Our summer drinking excursions began in the diverse Mills 50 district with a “come as you are” ethos – not to mention some heated pinball games at arcade-inspired watering hole BART (1205 N. Mills Ave.). A month later, we landed beachside for margaritas and the infamous Pusser’s Painkiller at New Smyrna Beach’s Toni & Joe’s Patio (309 Buenos Aires Ave., New Smyrna Beach). Note: My liver is still hurting from that crawl.

Nevertheless, we marked the launch of UCF’s fall semester at a few off-campus bars, which involved sipping cheap domestics at Knight Library (11448 University Blvd.), a popular hang that this year topped the Daily Meal’s list of “25 Best College Bars in America.”

We toned it down a bit in September with a sipping-and-strolling afternoon along posh Park Avenue in Winter Park, where we basked in cool(er) fall temps and enjoyed fancy pear martinis at an outdoor table at Matilda’s on Park (358 N. Park Ave., Winter Park).

Ushering in the Halloween season, we were steered toward a round of local downtown Sanford haunts, and we soon learned that no trip to Sanford would be complete without a visit with Moire Wisdom at her eclectic joint, Little Fish Huge Pond (401 S. Sanford Ave., Sanford).

When November rolled around, we drowned our Mall at Millenia holiday-shopping woes in what can only be described as “a beast of a martini” while resting our tired feet at Blue Martini (4200 Conroy Road). Little did I know, my jaunt around the Millenia area would be my final pub crawl for this Another Round column.

Certainly there are many other crawl-worthy neighborhoods in the area that I didn’t have the chance to cover, and although there might not be any immediate plans in the future, undoubtedly, OW will continue to cover Orlando’s thriving nightlife scene – in whatever form that might take.

I can’t say enough how incredibly fortunate I am to have been a part of the exceptional team at Orlando Weekly. And even though I’ll be leaving, there’s no doubt I’ll continue to be a devoted OW reader from afar – even if that means scrolling through stories on orlandoweekly.com while mounted up at a waterfront bar overlooking Biscayne Bay, ice-cold mojito in hand. Hmm, yeah … let’s cheers to that!

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