For most people, a visit to Florida’s Walt Disney World is filled with long lines, tired children and overpriced souvenirs. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Disney is all about fun for the whole family — and that includes adults looking to loosen up and vacation with a well-made cocktail. The four parks and surrounding property feature some excellent watering holes that serve up much more than macro beer and fruity poolside drinks. Here are the five cocktail spots to put on your list for your next Disney trip, including a hidden tiki bar and a festive margarita refuge.
Another newcomer for 2016, this bar pays homage to classic cocktails and with an aura of old-time magic and social club character. The quality spirits behind the bar reinforce that this is no kid’s birthday party. Menu highlights include a Magic Hattan made with Hudson rye whiskey, a Coney Negroni that’s really a boulevardier, the Pepper’s Ghost combination of pineapple vodka and habanero lime and the Elixir – a pour of Lucid absinthe and water. Fittingly, many of the drinks come with their own visual tricks, and there are plenty of vintage details in the room’s theming to keep your attention while nursing a drink. The AbracadaBar is conveniently located between the Epcot and Hollywood Studios parks and near several hotels and restaurants.
Named after Indiana Jones’ frequent pilot, this Disney Springs bar is decked out in 1940s-style aviation décor and a lengthy cocktail menu. It’s still Disney, so expect cheekily-named versions of classics. For example, instead of Long Island Ice Tea, you’ll be ordering a Wrong Island! For something different, consider the Scottish Professor — a tart, slightly peaty blend of Monkey Shoulder scotch, Hendrick’s gin, pear nectar, simple syrup and lemon juice. The Air Pirate’s mule uses Disney’s exclusive high-proof Knob Creek single barrel reserve bourbon, fresh lime juice and ginger beer. Sweeter palates might eye the Fountain of Youth, mixed with St. Augustine Florida cane vodka, Blue Curacao, white cranberry juice and sweet and sour.
Mexico Pavilion, Epcot
Spending a day drinking around Epcot’s 11 country pavilions is somewhat of a rite of passage for booze-minded Disney travelers. Arguably the best stop on this international bar crawl is Mexico’s Cava del Tequila. The margaritas at this lively bar are at once strong and well-balanced, coming in refreshing varieties like jalapeno, cucumber, blood orange, avocado and even horchata. Cava del Tequila also carries a large selection of tequila and mezcal pours from affordable to top-shelf. The queues for seating and even the to-go bar can snake out the door, but the wait is well worth it. These drinks are much better than the drinks from the sidewalk stand outside.
Tiffin’s Restaurant, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The Nomad Lounge opened in spring 2016 in the Discovery Island section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. The aptly-named bar adjoins Tiffins Restaurant and draws inspiration from around the world, especially Africa, Asia and Latin America. It’s an elegant spot to break from the sun and crowds with a sophisticated cocktail. The Temping Tigress blends 10-year bourbon, allspice dram, tamarind syrup and lime juice. Or go for the Night Monkey, which uses Bacardi Gran Riserva Maestro Rum, guava purée, mint, coffee simple syrup and lime juice.
Polynesian Village Hotel
This tiki “speakeasy” is located inside the lush Polynesian Village hotel, itself just a short Monorail ride from the Magic Kingdom. Pass through the unmarked door to a bar where creative drinks and tropical kitsch both pack a punch. Each cocktail order triggers a unique reaction from servers (and the room), making for a lively environment. Choices include the HippopotoMai-Tai, the shareable Uh-Oa! bowl (light and dark rums, Falernum and juices), the Castaway Crush (cachaca, cream of coconut, pineapple, cinnamon and lime) along with other tiki favorites and contemporary creations.
Bonus tip: If you or your travel companions are members of the Disney Vacation Club, make a point to visit the Top of the World Lounge, located at the top of the resort’s Bay Lake Tower condominium. The bar features a panoramic view of the Magic Kingdom and surrounding area and its knowledgeable bartenders can mix up anything from a martini to an old fashioned.