The days of Pleasure Island have long passed, and Hyperion Wharf is little more than a glimmer in Walt Disney World’s eye. But Downtown Disney (DTD) still offers several places to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two and toast to the promise of DTD’s future.
Here are my favorite DTD watering holes, which vary according to my mood. They have full-service bars, of course, but also offer full menus and lively entertainment.
Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant
Raglan Road is my go-to spot for a casual drink or an evening of live Irish music and dance. It’s loud, it’s lively and it’s a lot of fun. A wide range of drinks are available, from the expected Guinness (with an Irish pour) and Irish Whiskey to cocktails (try The Dubliner), and Raglan Road has four – count ‘em, four– bars.
You can enjoy a meal as well as a drink or two at the restaurant, enjoy the afternoon at the Hole in the Wall outdoor pub, or grab some liquid refreshment at the adjacent Cooke’s of Dublin quick service.
Bongos Cuban Café
When I’m in the mood for more of something more retro and laid back, in a 1950s Havana nightclub kind of way, I head to Bongos Cuban Café. The restaurant offers Cuban and Cuban-American food, but for drinking I’m all about the warm-weather cocktails in the open-air bar area. Bongos offers a wide selection of mixed cocktails, as well as a variety of wines, beer and spirits. At Bongos, though I tend to go for their rum drinks. They make a mean mojito or Planter’s Punch.
And if you’re in the mood for the music to move you, Bongos offers live music and dancing on Friday and Saturday nights. (Sometimes there’s entertainment that requires a separate cover charge.)
House of Blues
House of Blues is my choice when I’m looking for a place to kick back and relax with comfort food or to hear live music in casual digs. The restaurant’s full bar offers something for all tastes, from a classic Sam Adams beer to top-shelf liquor to wine and champagne. Since I’m not quite a champagne girl and have more of a beer budget, I split the difference and treat myself to Johnnie Walker. It’s somehow fitting, with the restaurant’s Mississippi-Delta inspired cuisine and theme.
House of Blues is a favorite of mine in the warm months, where I like to spend time at the outdoor patio and people watch, especially during happy hour. I recommend the House of Blues’ Gospel Brunch for the whole family, and evenings for more adult-oriented entertainment.
While Paradiso 37 offers some solid North, South and Central American food – a “Taste of the Americas” – what I remember most of about the restaurant its “tower of tequila,” 37 in all and after which Paradiso 37 is named. The restaurant also offers signature frozen margaritas and sangria, some of Walt Disney World’s coldest beer, and an international wine list.
If you choose to forgo the dining experience, you can sit at the bar or outside. Both will allow you to enjoy the live music. Don’t expect to have a quiet conversation, though; Paradiso 37 can get quite crowded and loud, especially at night as its waterfront location makes it a popular DTD dining stop.
Of course, these are just some options for a drinking at DTD, those I believe are best suited for a focus on enjoying the drinks at hand. You can also find alcoholic beverages at DTD other dining establishments, including Planet Hollywood, Portobello, Fulton’s Crab House, T-Rex and even the quick-service Earl of Sandwich.
If you make a drink at DTD is part of your Disney “happy hour,” what Downtown Disney drinking spots do YOU raise your glass to?