Even among the many ill-advised schemes pitched at this year’s World’s Largest Idea Flea Market, project #22066: Bring Anthony Bourdain to Jacksonville stood out as one of the more frivolous (especially considering its placement within the Social Good category). For the uninitiated, Bourdain is a former chef, best-selling author, and potty-mouthed, irreverent host of a suite of popular food/travel shows — in other words, if he were less successful, he’d fit in well at Folio Weekly.

Basically, the people behind Project #22066 believed a Northeast Florida edition of Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown — the most recent season of which rendered Jamaica, Iran, Tanzania, and the Bronx as parts now known — would bring positive publicity to the region’s burgeoning culinary scene.

For myriad reasons, the project garnered little support.

But it’d be a mistake to dismiss this idea offhand. While we may not be ready for the full-boat of scrutiny and flippancy of the multi-Emmy-winning personality, we may find that one of Bourdain’s other shows could be a perfect fit for our city on the rise.

We live in a drinking town. This is a well-established fact. From the laid-back watering holes of the beaches to the buttoned-up establishments at St. Johns Town Center, the craft breweries of Riverside to the craft distillery in St. Augustine, the urban hole-in-the-wall dives to urban-fancy-ass shrines to spirits, for all its suburban sprawl, no matter where you may stumble in Northeast Florida, you’re likely to be welcomed with an open barstool and a drink.

For our twice-annual Drink Issue, Folio Weekly’s writers (our local Bourdains, if you will) canvassed the region, elbowing up to bars from St. Augustine to Amelia Island and Avondale to Atlantic Beach, each and every neighborhood offering our writers (see: drinkers) its own mix of dives, upscale lounges, happy hour spots and late-night joints. For you, readers, we went there, grabbing the ears of nearly every mixologist in town, and throwing back a few or twelve, so that we could compile the most comprehensive resource telling you where to go and what to drink.

What we found was that, among the previously laid foundation of well-established hangouts was an emerging community of cocktail-creatives, brimming with exciting, innovative ideas about how to fashion the old and the new into something entirely unique to Northeast Florida.

And, after all our hard work, we’re prepared to throw down the gauntlet. The Layover is/was
a Travel Channel vehicle for the previously mentioned Bourdain to spend a limited amount of time at intermediate locales between destinations, often ending up an eating, drinking, cursing, drinking and more drinking whirlwind of controlled chaos; The River City — with its well-established booze culture and emerging craft-cocktail scene — is perfectly suited for such an experience. So here’s a dare, inspired by our thorough research:

Tony Bourdain, the next time you’re on your way somewhere “exotic” — whether it be Miami, Puerto Rico, Central America, or Atlanta — we dare you to fly through JAX International (or Northeast Regional Airport in St. Augustine). While you’re here, try to visit as many neighborhoods as your liver can handle. But, be forewarned, you’re likely to end up a little sun-kissed, a lot salty, and overwhelmingly blurry-eyed and slurry-tongued after your First Coast stopover.