One of the greatest things about summer in Key West is that the afternoon heat is the perfect excuse to drink. As if we need an excuse. But one certainly must stay hydrated in the hot South Florida summer weather conditions. Luckily, locating the beverages necessary to avoid heat stroke is simple and fun in Key West. Even more fortunately, the hottest part of the day often corresponds with the timing of the city’s many happy hours. Let’s take a look at some of the better options for relief when the summer sun beats down and thirst strikes.
Emergency Hydration Option 1: Hit happy hour.
A real Key West local knows how to effectively work happy hours for half-price drinks and a dinner of discount appetizers. Key West has numerous happy hours; so many that choosing rather than finding is the biggest difficulty one is likely to encounter on a hot afternoon during summer in Key West.
For a happy hour with a water-front atmosphere and some good appetizer specials, hit Alonzo’s Oyster Bar for half-price drinks and appetizers at the bar from 4-6 pm. With an interesting view of the busy historic seaport where many fishing and Tour Boats come and go, and a clean, fine-dining feel while not being overly priced or pretentious, this is a good couple’s happy hour. Oyster lovers will also be happy here because Alonzo’s offers the largest selection of warm- and cold-water oysters in Key West, along with peel and eat pink shrimp.
The Conch Republic Seafood Company is a rustic little hideaway that draws many Key West locals from 4-7 pm every day for 2-for-1 drinks. This is a no-brainer beverage stop, and it shows with the Republic scoring the vote for Key West’s Best Happy Hour. Besides the fun of being handed two drinks with every order, this bar serves plenty of atmosphere on the Historic Key West Bight. It is in a converted former shrimp processing plant and fish warehouse on the site where broad docks hosted the busy sponge market during the heyday of Key West sponging in the 1890’s and early 1900’s.
Free bacon. Enough said. During the 4:00-6:30 pm Monday-Thursday happy hour at the 2¢ Restaurant and Bar you get a couple of strips of nice, crispy bacon with your drink order. Beyond the bacon, the 2¢ offers such eclectic bar fare as Edamame Hummus, fried Shishito Peppers, and quail eggs wrapped in Chinese 5-spice sausage. And drinking is fun because you roll dice to set your happy hour drink prices, with a 1 bringing you a great $1 drink, a 2 getting you a beverage for $2, and half-price for a roll of 3. Over 3 and you pay regular price. It adds some interest to the drinking, and you are likely to get a pretty good buzz while trying for the deep discount.
Although Dante’s is not really a bar because it closes at 11 pm, its long 4-8 pm happy hour might make it unnecessary to stay that late anyway. And Dante’s has another great feature that really works for summer in Key West – a large, beautiful pool area that is open for food and drink patrons to freely use. Start around lunch time with cold drinks and a refreshing dip to escape the noon heat, and by 8:00 at night you may be sufficiently cooled down. Add the half price drinks starting at 4:00, oysters at 3 for 2 bucks, pairs of stone crab claws for 6 bucks, and plenty of other super-fresh raw bar items, and this is not only a happy hour, it is a full happy day.