Tampa’s Tim Dorsey is the author of a series of satirical crime novels that feature a wildly eccentric and charismatic hero, Serge A. Storms. Serge loves Florida history and landmarks and visits his favorite hangouts as he travels the state dispensing his skewed brand of justice. We asked Dorsey about Serge’s favorite bars.
No Name Pub (Big Pine Key). Hands down the best bar in the state. Started out as a trading post/brothel in the 1930s when you had to arrive by boat about 25 miles before you got to Key West. It’s way back in the mangroves, about as far as you can get off U.S. 1 in the Keys. The thick and scarred wooden bar itself is so high-mileage that if it were a person it would be Keith Richards.
Bahi Hut (Sarasota). Picture drinking in an episode of Hawaii Five-O and you’ve got it. Also, tradition overflows at this vintage bar on the Tamiami Trail: You must order their signature Mai Tais. They won’t tell you the recipe, and they’re so powerful that there’s a strict limit of two per customer.
Flora-Bama Lounge (Perdido Key). Straddling the Florida-Alabama line, this is the home of the extremely popular (except among the mullet) annual interstate mullet toss. You used to enter the bar through the package store facing the road, and there was a pay phone at each end so you could place local calls to each state.
Mac’s Club Deuce (Miami Beach). Forget the ultra-chic South Beach clubs with velvet ropes; this is the only genuine dive (with an almost century-old double-horseshoe bar) along the strip, which is why Miami Vice always filmed here when they needed a seedy joint for Crockett and Tubbs to meet a connection.
The Pastime (Jacksonville). Remember the Lynyrd Skynyrd hit song “Gimme Three Steps”? Yep, really happened; the late lead singer Ronnie Van Zandt was actually threatened with a gun after dancing with the wrong woman. The owner once told me that if his place weren’t so tiny, it would have been “Gimme Five Steps.”
Don’s Place (Key West). This locals joint is an oasis amidst the hegemony of tourist-trap watering holes with bad Jimmy Buffett clones strumming in the corner. It’s one of those long, narrow places, also called the “Million Dollar Bar” in an insane statement about the Key West real estate market, because that’s what this modest corner of paradise cost the owners.
Tim Dorsey is the New York Times-bestselling author of 19 novels, including his latest, Coconut Cowboy.