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Don't let the name fool you - Hanson's Shoe Repair is actually one of Orlando's best-kept secret bars. This speakeasy offers a full menu of cocktails to choose from, hidden away in the bustling downtown area. The prohibition-era decor creates an authentic time-traveling experience, with a rich combination of exposed brick and polished wood. Be sure to call Hanson's ahead of your visit, to ask for the daily password.
The Monkey Bar is located on the second floor of the Wall Street Plaza in the Downtown Orlando area. A combination of an upscale lounge and a refined martini bar, this hidden gem is worth seeking out. The retro decor features an exotic touch with plush animal-print couches and chairs, a long wooden bar and warm lighting inside, along with unusual artwork featuring sultry monkeys. The outside balcony area offers views of the popular complex below, and provides a tropical setting with plenty of wicker furnishing and a thatched-roof bar. The Monkey Bar is a full-service bar, but specializes in an array of extra-large specialty martinis.
The Courtesy is a hipster lounge that offers some of the city's best and most original cocktails. Its signature cocktails include the honeydew juice-infused Honey Cut, Pedro Piper with Corazon Reposado tequila, and the Spring 44 gin-based Queens Directory. Those who wish for strong beverages can try absinthes like Herbsaint and Corsair Red. This bar also hosts cocktail creation classes twice a month, where you can work on perfecting the craft of mixing cocktails. Stop by during Happy Hours for the best deals on punches, wines and craft beers.
Cocina 214 is located north of Orlando in the nearby friendly town of Winter Park, just off the busy Park Avenue. Billed as "a contemporary Mexican kitchen", the menu includes a blend of customary Mexican dishes with popular Tex-Mex favorites. The surroundings are refined indoors, with a modern open dining and bar area, as well as bright and lively on the outside patio section. The menu features creations from the renowned chef, Francisco (Chico) Mendonca, including daily-prepared fresh items like flavorful sauces, tasty diverse salsas and warm tortillas. The full-service bar offers imported and domestic wines and beers, as well as margaritas and other specialty drinks. - Diane Dilov-Schultheis
Located in the Italian-themed Portofino Bay hotel at Universal Studios Escape, The Thirsty Fish is a quaint, nautically themed "dockside" bar overlooking a man made bay, the centerpiece of Portofino Bay's expansive grounds. Barstools, booths and patio seating make this a sprawling, casual environment for an afternoon cocktail before catching your second wink or for that special evening nightcap shared with friends. Light finger-food rounds out a menu heavy on frozen drinks and tourist-friendly aperitifs. One thing's sure, you'll never go thirsty at the Thirsty Fish!