The Drinking Issue 2014

Tampa Bay's signature drinks, deserving dives, Tampa Bay Beer Week happenings and more.

There is little more powerful than what you hear through the grapevine, especially when it comes to grapes. And hops. And cocktails.

The creators of the drinks we feature in this year’s Drinking Issue didn’t necessarily see them as signature drinks. They are just so damn delicious that they’ve earned a place in the communal fabric.

“I don’t claim we have a signature beer,” says brewer Greg Rapp of Rapp Brewing, “but Gose kind of defines what we’re doing here.”

A good drink can distill the essence of its maker, be it a bar or brewery.

Take The Bends’ Cucumber Creeper (above), inspired by a neon green cucumber margarita that quenched bar owner Matt Kaye’s thirst on a hot day of skateboarding in New York City. Reinvented with all natural ingredients, it’s become the bar’s most sought-after cocktail.

Ryan Pinés of Edison Food+Drink Lab takes inspiration from the restaurant’s emphasis on locally sourced and fresh ingredients when designing Edison’s seasonal cocktail menu.

Cigar City’s Joey Redner has his own backstory for CCB’s flagship pale ale Jai Alai: The name reminds him of his childhood, when he watched the sport played in Tampa.

“But I like that not everyone knows that association,” Redner says.

It’s not just alcoholic drinks that can assume trademark identities. We’ve found a tasty cache of distinctive non-alcoholic bevvies, too, like India Grill’s Mango Lassi and Bodega on Central’s homemade fresh fruit sodas.

And now that the Tampa Bay drinking scene has attracted so much national and international press, our regional identity is coming into delicious focus. Our homegrown libations are ambassadors of a sort.

The point is, one perfect sip can go a long way — literally. We do claim the libations featured in these pages as signatures, not just of each place but also of Tampa Bay. And we’re pretty damn proud.

—Arielle Stevenson

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