The Perfect Bar

By tbt* Staff Writers
Published November 9, 2007

At some point in our lives, we all imagine opening the world's greatest bar: Stylish but friendly, clean but lived-in, relaxed but entertaining enough for a night out with friends. Why, we wonder, can't there be a bar that serves all our needs at once? Rather than keep on dreaming, we decided to build our own perfect bar. We asked Julie Garisto, tbt*'s Barfly Emeritus, to pick her favorite features from Tampa Bay's finest watering holes, then we combined them into one superb, ultimate, ideal pub, and christened it - of course - the Perfect Bar. Pull up a stool, because you're about to tour of the bar of our dreams. (And if anyone out there actually wants to build the Perfect Bar in real life, give us a call. We'll be there on opening night.)

The perfect TVs

Rock n Sports Cafe

1811 N 15th St., Ybor City. (813) 248-6220

There's a school of thought that TVs should be watched at home, but sports viewing is a social and spirit-boosting pastime. The easier and more comfortable we can make catching a game or event, the better. Rock n Sports' setup is especially cool because of the number and variety of the TVs, as well as the HD picture quality. Several of the smaller ones are inset in overhangs above the bar, and are of minimal disturbance to the design scheme. There are 45 in all, with Direct TV sports packages. Plus, when games aren't on, you can upload our favorite videos, concerts and comedy skits from YouTube.

The perfect location

Bigfoot's (formerly Patty's Rusty Anchor)

7201 N 40th St., Tampa. (813)-987-2669

We have so many choices for pretty waterfront locations in Tampa Bay, but the beaches are overcrowded, and parking is a headache. Other brackish/freshwater places such as Jack Willie's, Rick's and Jackson's are just fine where they are. Our aim was to seek out a hidden gem, where it's a little out of the way, by the water and there's a vibe of real Florida. This tucked-away spot offers just that, with a wide expanse of Hillsborough River, a lovely wooden dock, gazebo, cypress trees and knees peeking out and ... sigh ... tranquility.

The perfect decor and food

Fly Bar and Restaurant

1202 E Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 275-5000

Locals designed and decorated the fly joint Fly. It's not prefab and made to order like some of the pseudo-upscale places around town. We like its balance between eye candy and minimalism; muted olive-green walls, amber and red drop lamps and solid-colored glass and iron partitions. It's soothing and tastefully decorated, with accents designed by local artists: wrought iron and glass by Dan King, woodwork by Sean Spoto, and paintings and decor by Adam Welch. While we're hauling in all that stuff to our place, we might as well import the kitchen and menu, which features Chef Rene Caceres' New American cuisine with French flair. The food backs Fly's pleasingly upscale image. Since we're operating in the realm of fantasy, each item should cost $5 or less (much unlike the pricey Fly).

The perfect restrooms 

Blue Martini

2223 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa. (813) 873-2583

There are tricked-out bathrooms throughout Tampa Bay, but we like the elegance and simplicity of Blue Martini's facilities. Sleek, cream-colored marble; roomy, separated stalls with cherry wood slat doors. The lightness and sophistication of this potty ensures a clean and soothing experience. It's all enhanced by pretty lighting. Heck, we'll even kidnap one of their friendly attendants who offer a bevy of beauty and toiletry needs.

The perfect games

Eddie's Bar and Grill

1283 Bayshore Blvd., Dunedin. (727) 734-2300

Bars usually have pool tables, foosball and video games. Imagine all that in a 3,000-square-foot game room with air hockey and skeeball. Holy mama, it's like a mini Chuck E. Cheese for grown-ups, without the headache-inducing screams of toddlers. We'd also promote Eddie's' family-friendly vibe, one that's never all that hectic.

The perfect patio

New World Brewery

1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. (813) 248-4969

We love the verdant charm and casual elegance of New World's patio -- its trickling fountain, umbrella tables, mosaic tiles, wrought iron, flowing plants and palm trees. People bring their kids and pets, especially for Yappy Hour, Tampa's best doggone bar ritual for canines and their owners.

The perfect run-o'-the-mill cocktails

Emerald Bar

550 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 898-6054

Vodka and tonics, rum and Cokes - they're strong and well-priced, not ridiculously strong like the Hub but stiffer than your average joint. While we're at it, we'll sneak in bartender twins Mo and Christine.

The perfect specialty drinks

13 Cafe and Lounge

2475 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 797-5555

Mojitos are hard to perfect. Most bars don't serve the labor-intensive, mint-lime-soda cocktail. When they do, there's something off. We'd like to steal 13's recipe because it's just right the balance - a little sweet, astringently refreshing and enough rum to give you a righteous buzz. 13 puts just as much care into its extensive menu of visually stunning martinis and sumptuous dessert cocktails - we want it all!

The perfect jukebox

The Hub

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

So many places have those fancy digital jukeboxes. We like the personal warmth and non-trendiness of the Hub's. No matter what decade it is, you can still crank the Beatles, Johnny Cash, the Replacements, Marvin Gaye, Hall and Oates and other timeless artists of all genres - music you can sing along to.

The perfect beer selection

Tank's Tap Room

13150 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. (813) 961-2337

Nearly 150 beers total, and 45 of 'em on tap, with six more coming soon. You can get Delirium and Chimay on tap, along with Okocim Bells, Rogue, Hacker Pschorr and Smithwick's. Tap lines are clean and brews are served at just the right temperature. Cheers to that.

The perfect stage, sound system


1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. (813) 241-8600

Crowbar has the best live music setup in a bar. You can see the band from just about any point inside the building. You don't have to be in the pit to see. You can relax at the bar and listen, and the sound is just loud enough, not blistering. We'd also hire the great variety of local bands - from metal to arty to folky to hip-hop.