From trendy to tried and true, the up and coming Mills 50 District is bursting with a bevy of options to belly up. The area packs some of the best bars in Orlando within a walkable couple of miles. With libations ranging from off the wall brews to fresh craft cocktails featuring house-made bitters, there’s a treasure trove of drinking options, and we’ve rounded up some of the best bars in the District that you won’t want to miss.
The Thirsty Topher, Orlando | Courtesy of Thirsty Topher
The Thirsty Topher
What’s not to love about this friendly neighborhood bar? From the moment you walk in, the welcoming vibe from Lando (the resident bartender) and owners Ron and Jason, are reminiscent of a place where “everybody knows your name.” What else do they know? Their beers. If you think beer is boring The Thirsty Topher will have you thinking again. I was presented with a tasting of three unique craft beers, one being a vibrant pink color. And if the colors aren’t enough to get you thinking beer can be…well, fun, then the names certainly will: “I Am Taking My Talents to Miami,” “Peanut Butter Deja Moo,” and “The Bruery Rice and Beans” (my personal favorite).
Between Central Florida and Tampa there is no shortage of breweries, so the list is constantly changing, but the owners do a great job of finding a balance between off the wall brews and refreshing standbys. The nitrogen generating unit uses blended gas, not only ensuring a great pour, but also keeping the kegs at ideal carbonation levels. Beer lovers aren’t the only ones to flock to this popular neighborhood watering hole, the Topher prides itself in carrying boutique wines unavailable in most retail stores, offering wine connoisseurs unique and hard to find choices. Oh, and ask Lando about the beautiful bar (spoiler alert: it’s made from a 2,500-year-old piece of wood found in the river of the Ocala National Forest). It makes for a great history lesson to pair with the limitless libations.
The Hammered Lamb, Orlando | Courtesy of The Hammered Lamb
The Hammered Lamb
Unprecedented views of Lake Ivanhoe, an oversized patio, and free shots of Huckleberry 44 North Vodka, every time a train goes by, is reason enough to visit the neighborhood hot spot. But the Hammered Lamb offers up flavorful fare (it’s the only place in the area you can order food all the way up to 2 am) and well poured drinks in addition to free ping pong tables. Sports enthusiasts can catch the games via one of the nine flatscreen TVs and the bar is one of only four official Orlando City Pubs. Friday night happy hour features live music and an array of drink specials. But don’t miss the weekend brunch, one of the best in town. In fact, The Hammered Lamb won the city’s vote for ‘Best Bloody Mary Bar in Town.’ Spice it up a bit by adding one of the house-made Tito Vodka infusions in the likes of bacon, herb or citrus and pair your cocktail with the signature shrimp and grits or breakfast BLT for the ultimate brunch experience.
Pull up a seat, or kick back on the couch, this cozy little haunt blurs the lines between neighborhood bar and your best friends (vintage) digs. Sure, it screams hipster hangout, but we promise you won’t be disappointed whether you’re a millennial or Gen Xer. The seasonal craft cocktail creations are designed by one of the inhouse bartenders and feature homemade ingredients. On most nights, you can catch a DJ or live music and if you need a bite, grab some late-night noshes from one of the food trucks parked outside.
The closest Central Florida gets to a beach bar (minus the actual beach), this open-air, surf inspired bar serves up cold brews and stiff drinks with a friendly vibe. Adorned with buoys, fish traps, and surfboards, The Lure offers a rather large rotating beer selection. Great drink specials ($3 happy hour well drinks), full moon parties and a popcorn machine add to the charm. So, don the flip flops and bring Fido along because it’s 5:00 somewhere.
You can’t pass through the Mills 50 district without a stop at this local watering hole. I mean, this joint has been serving up stiff drinks to everyone from the local mayor to the town wino for over 60 years. From 7:30 am (yes you heard us right) until 2 am, forthright bartenders pour patrons Jack and Coke (well mostly Jack) to a backdrop of ostentatious wallpaper and an urn filled with the original Wally’s ashes. And, in case you want to take the party with you, there’s a packaging store attached.
A bar in a furniture store? Multi-taskers will revel in this charming wine bar located inside the elegant Washburn Imports. Besides basking in one of a kind exotic pieces from all over Asia, The Imperial’s warm and inviting atmosphere beckons patrons to sip a boutique blend or Bourbon Barreled Aged Stout. Sit inside for an ever changing arsenal of eye-catching pieces or escape to the private patio for a “West Hollywood” vibe. Lighter fare is offered, grab a charcuterie board, or step outside and grab a bite from one of the food trucks parked along the street.
The Guesthouse, Orlando | Courtesy of The Guesthouse
Living up to its moniker, The Guesthouse is brimming with greenery and cozy seating along the perimeter of the walls. The oversized large bar is staffed with millennials serving up reinvented Tom Collins and Old Fashioned. Step outside for a completely different vibe. The parking lot has just as much action with informal seating and a hybrid airstream/bar.
What do you get when you mix a Bar arcade and art gallery? Um… a good time and a nostalgic feeling of being in a John Hughes film. Take a trip back in time, when killing aliens actually meant sitting in front of a rather large arcade, as opposed to staring at a hand-held device. A rotating assortment of old school arcade games like Donkey Kong and Space Invaders make for old school entertainment. And just to jazz things up a bit, the walls are adorned with works by local artists. Keeping it simple, BART serves up a variety of bottled and canned craft beers.
Hideaway Bar, Orlando | Courtesy of The Hideaway Bar
If you want the predictable pub basics, a good burger, even better wings and an icy cold brew this is your place. Understated, you’ll find locals watching seasonal sports (yes even though the bar dons Miami Dolphin colors, fans of all teams are welcome), bikers cooling off with a pint, and even hospital workers coming off of the graveyard shift. A neighborhood staple long before the area gave way to the sexy trend of craft cocktail lounges, it’s the best place to cure your hangover.