It’s Happy Hour, y’all.
Whether you’re on vacation, staycation, or dipping out of the office early “for an emergency off-site conference,” you can find a place to sip and savor.
When the good folks at Visit Pensacola asked me to pick five favorite happy-hour haunts, I had to pause. There are so many places here to find your happy place. In-crowd favorites, tourist haunts, old staples — places where they know my name (whoops, that didn’t narrow it down much).
So I looked at some places from Pensacola Beach to Perdido Key that strive to make you happy, maybe that do it a little differently.
First, insert the legal note about being a sensible adult and Uber and all that. Now let’s get down to after-business before my boss realizes I’m not at my desk. After all, it’s 3 p.m.
The Jellyfish Restaurant
13700 Perdido Key Drive, 32507
When you think of Perdido Key, thoughts of flying mullet and rowdy music drift in from the state line.
Perdido Key has grown far beyond its barefoot roots, even though it still embraces the casual.
How about some fresh, tangy spicy yellowfin sushi, paired with a lemon drop martini? Enter Jellyfish.
Located at The Villagio on Perdido Key Drive, the Jellyfish Bar and Restaurant crafts artisan martinis, while serving a full menu that includes sushi, steak and fresh seafood. It’s all served in a casual, unassuming atmosphere that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Yes, you’re on the key.
Notables: The aptly jelly-monikered Sea Nettle, with blueberry vodka, Blue Curacao, Blueberry Liqueur, splash of sour mix, lemon lime soda and honey drizzle. Try the sushi, or venture into a handheld: the lump crab patty swamped with special sauce. For dessert, I opted for liquids: the Lemon Drop martini.
Union Public House
309 S Reus St., Pensacola, Florida 32501 • Telephone: (850) 607-6320
Union Public House melds the London-style gastropub with Southern style.
Located a short walk from Blue Wahoo Stadium, and a few blocks away from the main drag of downtown Palafox Street, Union Public House is dubbed the “crafty Southern-style pub.” It’s unassuming with bold takes on simple foods and a touch of modern (with USB charging ports tapped into the bar!)
Happy Hour drink specials are white-boarded with a vis-a-vis, and it’s often something handcrafted that involves a careful splicing of spices and scented liquors. Try the Orange Blossom Collins.
Some happy Hour staples? There’s the Scotch egg, an English-style soft-boiled egg wrapped in house-made Andouille sausage— and “breaded” generously in house-made pork cracklings.
Or you might try the Wild Boar Sloppy Joe (never, ever have I typed those four words together.) Or the corn dog, err, actually it’s a Grouper and Shrimp Corn Dog — yep, it’s on a stick. They found a way to replace “some kinda meat” with something delicious.
Old Hickory Whiskey Bar
123 S. Palafox Place, Pensacola, FL 32502
Named after the feisty general Andrew Jackson who helped forge this country, Old Hickory is a daring venture into the craft side of whiskey and bourbon.
Craft whiskey and bourbon drinks that soothe the senses - bartenders scale ladders to fetch craft blends from massive floor-to-high ceiling racks. Not a whiskey drinker? There are other choices and fancy-schmancy takes on mixology, including craft beer stashed in whiskey barrels.
There is the signature drink, Old Hickory, which is drawn from a single-barrel Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Slide up to the bar, or sink into the deep, dark booths and watch the show.
The Grand Marlin of Pensacola Beach
400 Pensacola Beach Boulevard, Pensacola Beach - 850-677-9153
A staple for fine dining with fresh seafood on Pensacola Beach, the Grande Marlin has a secret raw side. And a happy-hour side.
It’s the first and the last restaurant on Pensacola Beach, located on the northbound side at the foot of the Bob Sikes Bridge.
You can enjoy the view of placid Santa Rosa Sound from the North Drop Bar or slip inside to regal settings. Enjoy the specials for oyster on the half-shell, bar bites and craft drafts.
Then you’ll see the Dark and Stormy on the drink menu. It’s what happens when Gosling Ginger Beer collides with Gosling’s Dark Seal Rum. Or, to go island-style, try the Strawberry Mango Mojito, which can partially qualify for a fruit serving as it has fresh strawberries, mint and mango syrup to splash with the Cruzan mango rum.
Yes, special prices are on tap for the oysters, but you might want to check out the full menu of fresh seafood, artfully prepared.
Casino Beach Bar & Grille
41 Fort Pickens Road, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561— (850) 932-6313
Let’s see. You dipped out of a conference covering some kind of new, fangled social media technology and you nixed a Trust Fall Seminar to take a stroll on the beach.
There, you found it — tucked into the foot of the Pensacola Gulf Pier — Casino Beach Bar & Grille.
At this happy hour, you can breathe in the Gulf of Mexico, sink into a beach lounger and listen to the gentle hiss of Gulf breakers teasing the crystal white sand.
Try the Painkiller. Smell the brown sugar and nutmeg, with a scent of cinnamon from the Papa’s Pilar Rum.
Every bit of detail is poured into the cocktail specialties. Mixologists prepare freshly squeezed lime, orange and grapefruit juice and prepare their own simple syrup.
For the small appetites, the seared ahi tuna or the marinated tuna cubes in the Tuna Poke Bowl. Are there Shrimp Tacos? Is the Gulf of Mexico gorgeous?
Happy hours can stretch into happy evenings at this place.
Left a favorite off the menu? Leave us a comment below!