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Lucky for you guys, I’ve been familiarizing myself with the drinks and acquainting myself with the bars of Clearwater Beach for the last three years, and I’m here to give you all of the details. While there is plenty to do at Clearwater Beach, the beach bars and fun (often tropical) drinks are part of the experience. Regardless of what kind of drink you’re craving, I will direct you on the place to go.
Best Beach Bars in Clearwater Beach— and What to Drink at Them
Best Bloody Mary
I actually found this place four years ago when I was asking people passing by where the best bloody mary on the beach was. They did not steer me wrong! Equipped and fully loaded with a shrimp-and-veggie skewer, you get a nice appetizer with this drink, and they don’t just stop there— if you’re wondering what the short glass is next to it, that’d be your beer chaser (typically Miller or Bud Light). Ask ‘em to make it spicy, and they add their own Jimmy’s hot sauce to it to spice it up for ya.
Opal Sands Sea-Guini
They have all sorts of to-die-for martinis here, whether you’re looking for something sweet and fruity or the classic with some stuffed blue cheese olives. Personally, I dream about their strawberry shortcake martini. Stoli vanilla vodka, muddled strawberries, simple syrup, and a graham cracker rim— sounds amazing, right? I’m going to give you a hack to make it even more amazing: ask them to add their ice cream mix to it. This makes the drink a little bit creamy. Normally, I can’t do a ton of sweet drinks, but when it comes to these, I can easily down a few— and in record time, embarrassingly enough.
Best Beer Selection
This place is a beer lover’s dream. With 50 beers on tap and daily bucket and draft specials, you are sure to find something you like. You can get a bucket of Bud, Bud Light, Corona, Corona Light, or Premier for $16.
I have a weak spot for places that muddle fresh fruit into their mojitos instead of making it overly sweet with an artificial puree or just using a flavored rum or vodka to give it a different fruity flavor. Both of these spots muddle the fruit and concoct the most refreshing mojitos. Salty’s has a delicious blackberry lime mojito, and Jimmy’s makes a mouthwatering strawberry pineapple mojito. At Jimmy’s, make sure you ask for Chris to make it— he makes the best!
It may look pretty basic, but trust me, this white sangria leaves your taste buds very pleased. It’s very light and refreshing. Not too sweet with a nice peach flavor bursting through. There’s a North and South Beach location— I have only tried these at the South Beach location, but if you go to North Beach, that spot also has darts and pool you can play while you enjoy your sangria!
Best Oyster Shooter
Okay, first of all, I want you guys to understand how unexpectedly hard it is to find an oyster shooter on a beach that has a million places that serve oysters. Second of all, if you’re like the number of people I asked where to find good oyster shooters who were unaware just what exactly an oyster shooter is, let me fill you in. An oyster shooter is just as it sounds— an oyster in a shot glass mixed with some sort of alcohol.
Unlike the few places on the beach we found to accommodate and make us one despite them not being on the menu, Cooter’s actually has them on their menu. At the cheap price of $3.99, their Cooter Shooter is a fresh oyster, beer, cocktail sauce, and hot sauce. Personally, I like bloody mary mix and vodka with mine. Maybe that doesn’t sound like your thing, but don’t worry— just tell your server what you’d prefer, and they will totally accommodate.
Let me clarify that I cannot eat raw oysters by themselves, but for some reason, when they’re mixed in with the bloody mary mix and alcohol, it just works— and it’s amazing. Another hack: make sure you ask for an Old Bay rim.
Best Instagrammable Drink
In the giant glass seen below, you can get a jumbo blue, strawberry, or regular margarita. Or, if you’re like me and are no longer friends with tequila, you can get a rum-based drink called Voodoo Juice. Fruity, tropical, and the perfect Instagram post to give your friends FOMO, I highly recommend this drink!
Best Classic Margarita
Unfortunately, Salt Tequila Bar is not open due to COVID-19 restrictions. I will keep this updated for when it reopens!
As I mentioned, me and tequila aren’t exactly on speaking terms, but I couldn’t leave out this fan favorite. You can find this bar and tap room inside of Shephard’s, and they have over 100 varieties of tequila to choose from (who even knew they made that many?!). You can either pick your favorite tequila for them to mix into a marg and add a Grand Marnier float, or do the budget-friendly option and enjoy one of their $5 margaritas. They have $5 margs all day, every day!
Best Wine Selection
With a selection of over 50 wines by the glass and over 200 bottle choices, I had my heart set on a delicious glass of pinot grigio, and the Viti di Mezzo fulfilled me. If you’re not feeling nice and warm after a few glasses of wine, you will surely feel the warmth from the staff. Best yet, when we got our bill, we learned that it was happy hour— $10 for two glasses of wine! They’re closed on Monday but have happy hour Tuesday-Sunday 5-7pm. Happy hour includes two for one house wine and sangria, $2 off all wines by the glass, and $1 off all draft and bottled beer.
Best Locally Brewed Beer List
Unfortunately, Clearwater Social Brewing Co. is not open due to COVID-19 restrictions. I will keep this updated for when it reopens!
I’m not a big beer drinker, but this place offers a lot more than just a great local selection. The atmosphere here is different from the local beach bar vibe— it has more of an industrial look. It’s a nice change up. The manager hand selects the beers on the rotating taps, and you get a great local selection. And if you’re like me and can’t make up your mind, they have a flight option. On top of the awesome beer selection, this spot also has a lot of games, from beer pong to Nintendo.
Best Pina Colada
Sally’s definitely has the best classic pina colada. They are the only place I know of on the beach that uses real pineapple instead of puree or just a mix. And it’s completed with a fresh coconut rim and pineapple slice. It is exactly what you need to start your beach vacation. At Frenchy’s, you NEED to get the Loopy Lada. Holy crap, this seriously tasted like a bowl of Froot Loops, taking me right back to my childhood. Pro tip: have both places add mango. I started adding mango to my pina coladas, and it is a total game changer.
Best Rooftop Views
Crow’s Nest gives you stunning views of the Gulf and Pier 60 (located on North Beach). The Edge gives you city views on one side and a view of the Clearwater Harbor Channel that leads into the Gulf (located on South Beach). If you’re at either of these locations around sunset, they also pass around free Sunset Shots during their sunset celebration. They do a countdown for the spectacle, and everyone does the shot together!
Best Game Spot
Tap and Token
Located above Brown Boxer on North Beach, this place is a total blast. As you may know I like to get my game on while I enjoy my cocktails, so this is one of my fave spots to hang on Clearwater Beach. They have numerous arcade-style games, pool, and darts! And the location is right by a lot of other spots I’ve listed in this post, so you can easily bounce around!
While I don’t necessarily encourage you go from drinking a Bloody Mary to a sangria, I thought it’d be fun to try to check off as many of the drinks I’ve listed in a scavenger hunt! Don’t forget to tag me on Insta or Facebook so I can see just how much you’ve conquered!
Let me know which drink sounds the yummiest to you!