In downtown Orlando, just off the beaten path on Orange Avenue, is a bar like no other. The Courtesy Bar is different in that it takes pride in making crafty cocktails with no pretense. The ambience is very apothecary and steampunk, leaving the patrons to feel like they have stepped back in time when cocktails were a luxury. It also helps that the establishment is located in a turn of the century building.
The décor comes from the mind of the owner and his friend, who happens to be a local artist, and includes such things as a decorative birds nest high in the corner above the booth. The design isn’t ‘Orlando’ as most Orlando people would describe, but many patrons describe a reminiscent feeling of Boston, Seattle, or New York.
» IMAGE GALLERY: Courtesy Bar in downtown Orlando
Onto the cocktails! I’m a vodka person so at first glance; the menu heavy with whiskeys, bourbon, and gin was rather intimidating. The Courtesy Bar does have vodka, but other liquors were predominant on their menu. I ended up trying what seemed like the scariest thing on the menu – the Tom Cat: Gin, tonic, cherry heering, citrus twist, and topped with an IPA. It was an amazing drink and I was very pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t dry but instead was very smooth, considering it had touch of IPA.
My friend did order the vodka drink listed on the specialty menu – the Ruby Red Basil. Made with Vodka, Elderflower liqueur, fresh squeezed grapefruit, and basil, this is a great tasting cocktail. The elderflower and grapefruit really complement each other and neither flavor overpowers the other.
The Courtesy Bar uses fresh ingredients and local ingredients in their homemade bitters and barrel made cocktails. There are also house-made sodas on hand, such as Cherry Rosemary and Pear Cardamom. You can try these with or without a suggested spirit. There is no bartender handbook at this place; instead, the staff will get together and feed off each other’s ideas for new drinks. To keep things fresh, the specialty cocktail menu changes a few times a year.
One thing that definitely caught my eye was the ice! The ice machine The Courtesy Bar uses makes Kold Draft ice, which means it’s very dense with very few to no air bubbles. If you order a drink that calls for crushed ice, well, that means the ice is put in a bag and actually crushed on the bar top!
Because The Courtesy Bar takes pride in their cocktails, you can expect to wait a few minutes for a great concoction.
The bar opens at 5pm on weekdays, 7pm on Saturdays, and 3pm on Sundays; of course, during the high traffic times out and about, you can probably expect a line at the bar.
The Courtesy Bar also offers cocktail classes on the first and third Saturday of the month. The class is an hour long and details can be found here: http://www.thecourtesybar.com/