According to VisitJacksonville.com, it’s “the latest up-and-coming section of Jacksonville and it’s blossomed into a bustling business center.” Whether you agree with that statement or not, there is plenty of drinking to be done north of St. Augustine, west of Ponte Vedra and south of Downtown, aka the Southside.
DIVE ||| THE BAYARD ROOSTER
If you’re like me and prefer a good dive bar above all else, you’ll be right to home (as we say) at The Bayard Rooster, one of Northeast Florida’s oldest and largest biker bars, where the motto is “Rock at the Cock.” You know the place. It’s the one right on U.S. 1/Philips Highway that has an enormous red-white-and-yellow rooster perched atop a column of sorts.
The Bayard Rooster is owned by Heather Lumpkin and Steve Benaski, two bikers who loved this place so damn much that they pooled their resources and purchased it back in 2009 after a string of different owners couldn’t keep it cock-a-doodle-dooing.
Closed on Mondays, but kicking it the rest of the week, The Rooster (as it’s known by locals) has that swampy Southern feel. You can choke on your Pall Malls and get your groove on — the Rooster features live music on a small stage.
Still not convinced a visit to The Rooster is mandatory? Then how about taking part in the bar’s “Heathen Happy Hour” on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when all beer and wine is $1.25 off the regular price. There are also bucket specials and free pool all day Tuesday.
HAPPY HOUR ||| BLACKFINN AMERIPUB
When you’re imbibing around Southside with only a few bucks in your pocket, head over to BlackFinn Ameripub on Big Island Drive at Markets at Town Center. BlackFinn has locations all over the country – from Chicago to Charlotte – and touts itself as a “lively restaurant and bar that offers the affordable, craveable American food our guests want to eat.”
They’ve also got 36 beers on tap, including some by local breweries like Aardwolf and Engine 15, and a killer happy hour going on Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. that features $3 domestic beers, $4 well cocktails, $5 house wines and $8 appetizers, like pulled-pork sliders and a hodgepodge of flatbread combinations.
LATE NIGHT ||| WHISKEY JAX
First stop along the Southside booze trail is Whiskey Jax, located on Baymeadows Road in Point Meadows shopping plaza. First of all, anything with the word “whiskey” has the potential to be amazing and second, this place is a go-to if you like some action with your alcohol.
Whiskey Jax has something going on nearly every damn night of the week. There’s Country Music Night, Monday Night Trivia, Sunday Sessions Blues, Booze & BBQ and an Open Mic Night. Oh, ya, they have drinks, too. Check out their extensive whiskey menu including Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. Small Batch Bourbon.
UPSCALE ||| SUITE
If your billfold’s bulging and you’re craving a cocktail that’s a bit more upscale, you’d do well to get thee to Suite, also located in St. Johns Town Center.
Looking for a bottle of Perrier-Jouet, Grand Brut? Suite’s got it. Want to sip on a Stag’s Leap Merlot? They’ve got that, too. And there’s something called an N-Tini: a drink infused with liquid nitrogen that literally gives off a white gas vapor.
For a pretty penny, Suite offers a table service option in the The Club Suite, a VIP area with leather sofas and plaid wool carpeting where you can actually blow through your rent money in one sitting. Choose from an extensive list of flavored vodkas or class it up with a bottle of Crown Royal.