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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Twinkle, Twinkle.... Hey, Lighten Up! St. Augustine Switches on Nights of Lights Nov. 21 (From the Perspective of A Holiday-Frenzied Local Beer Blogger)

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I'm a bit festive, especially at this time of year. I'm the the midst of Holiday decorating at my house, and there haven't been any casualties involving ladders, snowmen, reindeer or Santas.  The Pilgrims and turkeys are getting along nicely with the elves and string lights waiting patiently in the background for their turn to shine.


 

Given my fascination (or obsession) with Holiday lights, it's no wonder that I'll be among the other twinkle-gazers this Saturday night, November 21, at 6:30pm, as St. Augustine turns it on for Light-Up Night, which gets the famed NIGHTS OF LIGHTS and the Holiday Tree in the Plaza flickering. Over three million lights will dance and shimmer along the businesses of downtown St. Augustine and around the Matanzas Bay through January 31.  Truly a wonderland (not to mention an electrical phenomenon). 

Last year, I also attended the Light-Up Night, and then spent more nights wandering around the brilliance of little white light bulbs and engaging in boisterous singing on the holiday trolleys that make their way around town. See my post from last year HERE



My Santa Hat! How I've missed you!
Now, I know what you're thinking:  it's been three paragraphs, and I haven't once mentioned beer.  Pretty intuitive, because there's a whole new meaning to "getting lit," so to speak, and that's where I'm going next. In last year's post, I mentioned some of the places in downtown St. Augustine where you can enjoy a cold pint of suds (or, snifter, if you're into the higher ABV stuff -- in which case, I may want to hang with you!).  Trust me, you'll need the beer break after walking around (or will you need the wandering around break after the beer?).  And, say (let's just say) that maybe, just maybe, you're into singing Holiday songs and loudly proclaiming "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" to passers-by while on a trolley (emphasis on "loudly"), you'll need the sustenance. All of this celebrating is exhausting, to be sure!

So here goes. The usual suspects are back on my list from last year, and there are few new entries this time around, too.  Do your best "Run, Run Rudolph," and get ready to "Rock Around the Christmas Tree" and other parts of downtown. Check 'em out:

By the Plaza:

J.P. Henley's, just around the corner from the Plaza. The place has 70 taps, plus bottles, wine, and pub menu. (see photo above). There's a high probability that I'll find my way here sooner or later. 


A1A Ale Works, just across from the Plaza. Beer brewed on site; bar, table and balcony seating; full menu and liquor.  Could be the best view in the city. Good food, good beer.  


Around Middle of Downtown:


Barley Republic Public House and Irish Pub, just a short walk away on Spanish Street. 70 beers, give or take a few, including 10 on draft, liquor bar; really good burgers and fish and chips 


Henley's Steak and Seafood, in the middle of St. George Street, upstairs at the corner of St. George and Hypolita. Sister to JP Henley's, this upscale restaurant features a separate bar with 100 taps, wine, full liquor bar and HDTV's. Awesome views.  Delectable culinary creations. Opened last year during Nights of Lights; see my blog post HERE.


Rendezvous Beer Bar, located on St. George St. Large selection of bottled beers from around the world and a few taps, too. Cool little place in the back of St. George's Row street mall. 

By the Parking Garage:


Mojo Old City BBQ, on Cordova Street. Nice craft beer tap list with Florida brews.  Looking for BBQ? This is it. Very popular; you might have to wait, but there's a bar! Nice outdoor seating area, too. Close to the parking garage.  See my blog post HERE.


Ann O'Malley's Deli & Pub ("St. Augustine's Oldest Irish Pub"). Sandwiches, music, lots of soccer, Buffalo Bills games, beer specials including craft beers on draft and bottles/cans. There's always a lot of activity here; and between John, Sherri, Dee and Kelli, you might get a little saucy or salty. The porch is great for people watching, hanging out and watching those trolley-riders go by (ahem).



The scintillating Tini Martini Bar

And, although this isn't a spot for beer, make sure you stop by Tini Martini Bar at Casablanca Inn, on the Bayfront. The light display is nothing short of dazzling.  Enjoy martinis and drinks on the heated patio and porch, and make sure your camera's battery is fully charged. 





No Name Bar/The Bar With No Name, across from the Fort. This is an awesome place to hang and watch people.  Full liquor bar.  Small selection of beer and food; it's fun, and a pretty happening place the later it gets. See my blog post HERE


Over the Bridge of Lions:

Get your cushioned insoles in your shoes, because you'll want to walk over the Bridge of Lions to Anastasia Blvd., too.  Not only is the scenery breathtaking along the Bridge as the downtown sparkles across the bayfront, but there's more beer over the Bridge!

Candlelight South, sports bar with wraparound outside deck. Nice craft beer menu; awesome wings that are prepared in various ways (the garlic parmesan is my favorite). Comfort food that is always delicious (I love the mahi tacos!)

Hoptinger, just opened a couple of weeks ago.  This is the second location, with the original in Jax Beach. Long bar with 86 taps (81 beer, 2 wines, 2 batch cocktails, 1 root beer); full liquor bar.  Nice indoor/outdoor seating.  Menu is larger than Jax Beach.  Features "The Wurst" brats, sausages, along with veggie options, burgers. Music, lots of TVs. Fun place. 

Mellow Mushroom, pizza place with 48 taps, full liquor bar. Sandwiches, calzones. Creative pizzas, or create your own.  I like the meatball sandwich!

GAS Full Service Restaurant, diner-style restaurant that features outstanding cuisine.  Daily specials can include seafood or steak. Runs the spectrum of comfort food to culinary artistry. Small indoor seating area, so you might have to wait, but there's a large outdoor deck.  And, there's a very, very good beer list here. Lindy and Ben are local favorites. Extreme burgers. No website, but find em on Facebook. 

And, I gotta mention:

Brewz N Dawgz, when you're ready to exit the downtown (because let's face it, all of that is a lot of work), head over to the intersection of US1/Route 312.  24 Florida taps, plus 99 bottles.  Drink all 99 bottles (not at one time), and get your name on the wall.  Features organic brats and fries, veggie items.  Very chill place, with its own parking lot! (Cheers to that). A really nice draft selection, with various styles. Always friendly types around here, including owners Roger and Samantha. Hosts monthly fundraising events for local charities.  Just opened in July. See my blog post HERE.

Old Coast Ales, Anastasia Blvd. just over the Bridge of Lions. Ok, this one's under construction, with a projected opening date of Spring 2016, but it'll be there for next year's Nights of Lights!  Local-inspired tap room with beers brewed on site. Not to mention some very cool guys! 


ALRIGHT, WHO ELSE IS READY TO GET TURNED ON BY NIGHTS OF LIGHTS?!  All hands up!  And, be sure to stroll by the many bed-and-breakfasts around the downtown for their dazzling light displays.  

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THIS BLOGGER AROUND ST. AUGUSTINE DURING DECEMBER IN A SANTA HAT, LARGE HOLIDAY EARRINGS, LIGHTED NECKLACE, AND VARIOUS ITEMS OF HOLIDAY APPAREL; COULD BE SOMEWHAT LOUD; PROBABLY EXUBERANTLY WISHING EVERYONE MERRY CHRISTMAS; ALMOST ALWAYS HAS ONE OR TWO CAMERAS ON PERSON; USUALLY HEADING TO A BEER ESTABLISHMENT, OR HAS A BEER IN HAND ........ IF YOU SEE SOMEONE WHO FITS THAT DESCRIPTION, EITHER HEAD THE OTHER WAY, OR TAKE YOUR CHANCES AND SAY HI!  

PEACE, LOVE, PINTS

Holiday Cheers!


Linda