Cocktails/Wine Bars in Jacksonville, FL
A top local retailer of fine wines and craft beers, Royal Palm Village Wine & Tapas in Atlantic Beach opened in 2011 and quickly became a favorite hangout. The craft drafts are a big draw. Several are micro-brewed right here in Jacksonville, including Bold City Brewery’s Lamp Post Amber Ale, Green Room Brewing’s Holla Ray Strong Ale and Intuition Ale Works’ Jon Boat. Royal Palm also serves up a selection of tapas, cheeses and charcuteries with an emphasis on locally grown food, including veggies and herbs grown onsite in the organic edible garden. Try the house-made hummus, or warm prosciutto-wrapped dates with balsamic glaze with a glass of white.
You’ll get a glimpse at The Grotto’s appeal the moment you walk past the ivy-laced iron gates, through the intimate outdoor courtyard and into the front door. Inside, you’ll find a cozy, upscale space with a marble-topped bar, arched copper ceilings, plush velvet couches and local artwork lining the walls. With 70 wines by the glass, 300 by the bottle, it can get a bit crowded and loud on its busiest nights (typically Thursdays). Still, The Grotto is something of an institution in Jacksonville’s historic San Marco neighborhood and a favorite after-spot for theatre goers spilling out of the nearby Theatre Jacksonville or the San Marco Theatre. Sommeliers know their stuff and can recommend well for your tastes and your choice of tapas.
With a name like Poppy Love Smoke, you know right away that you can expect something out of the ordinary. This downtown Jacksonville wine and cigar bar is an eclectically sleek spot with live music and some of the most unique local artwork you’ll see anywhere in town. Premium cigars, great wines (by the glass or bottle) and beers come from all over the globe. Live jazz and neo-soul make it a great place to chill with girlfriends or a date. Or you can belt out your best old-school Sade on karaoke Wednesdays. If you’re winding down your night on the town, Poppy Love Smoke also serves premium waters.
For a truly upscale sipping experience, the Azurea Lounge at One Ocean Resort on Atlantic Beach is the place to go. This ultra-chic hot spot makes for a romantic date (especially if you can get a spot near the fire pit on the outdoor veranda with an ocean view) or a swanky GNO. The wine list is as thick as a phone book and the staff are experts at helping you pair just the right libation with your meal or tapas. There’s also a list of local or ocean-inspired specialty cocktails. The Georgia Peach and Bangkok Lemondrop martinis are favorites. Communal seating makes mingling easy – a nice touch when someone catches your eye.
It’s a favorite coffee spot by day. But at night, locals gather in the Cellar at Three Layers Coffeehouse. The ultra-casual spot in historic Springfield serves up 20 varieties of wine, 10 bottle beers and three draft beers by Jacksonville’s Bold City Brewery – the Killer Whale Cream Ale, Duke’s Brown Ale and 1901 Red Ale (presumably named for the famous “Great Fire of 1901” that destroyed the downtown core, literally clearing the way for a massive rebuilding that made Jacksonville the toniest and most modern city in the U.S.) There’s also a small selection of Seagram’s Coolers and champagnes from California, Australia and Italy. Mark your calendars for wine tastings on the third Tuesday of each month.