When you hear the names of rides like Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon, The Incredible Hulk, and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Universal Studios in Orlando should immediately come to mind. Unlike the Magic Kingdom, Universal is for thrill seekers. Even rides rated on the low end of the thrill scale have their moments. Teens and tweens, in a show of bravado, love raising their hands in the air on the coasters. But there’s another side to Universal Studios, and this one is for adults only.
Universal is home to some of the coolest bars you’ll find anywhere, and it may surprise some to learn there are people who go there with bar hopping on their agendas. They couldn’t care less about the rides. In case all of this information is new and surprising, here are some of the ones they’re going to.
Finnegan’s Bar & Grill
Finnegan’s is the epitome of a traditional Irish pub with a lively bar featuring occasional live crooners of Celtic tunes and a menu rivaling Dublin’s finest. The atmosphere is friendly, the service extraordinary, and Guinness flows faster than a flooding river. Not a beer drinker? No problem. Tell the smiling bartender your preference in liquor and you’ll be all set.
If you get hungry try the shepherd’s pie, bangers mash, or munch on some soda bread and apple butter. The taste cannot get more authentic. You may end up sitting at a long wooden table with people you don’t know, but that’s the way it’s done in Ireland and you’ll end up making some fast new friends. It’s a blast. Just go.
With Universal Studio’s being larger than quite a few towns in America, it makes perfectly good sense they should have their own brewery. And they do. It’s located in the Simpon’s themed area and it’s called Duff’s Brewery. When you spot the Simpson characters with beer bottle caps on their heads you know you’ve reached your destination.
Inside the brewery is Duff Gardens, an open-air bar where patrons can guzzle down any of the three different beers they brew. Duff Beer is an IPA which will stand its own against any IPA on the market. Duff Lite is for the waistline watchers who still enjoy drinking beer and it’s comparable to most other light beer. For professional beer drinkers, the bar offers Duff Dry which is dark and has a slight coffee taste similar to Beck’s dark.
Since Moe’s Tavern is also located in the Simpsons area it’s an easy stumble from Duff Gardens. Moe’s is a recreation of Homer Simpson’s favorite bar so don’t expect anything fancy. It’s intentionally the “diviest” of dive bars.
Moe’s has one decrepit looking bar lining the wall, booths, tables, and unplayable pool tables. Try the love tester to see if you’re as hot as you think. For non-alcohol drinkers, the Flaming Moe is their equivalent of O’Douls.
If you belly up to the bar you’re bound to meet some regulars. Some of them have been coming to Moe’s Tavern for years. A good handful of the bars patrons are usually off-work Universal employees.
Chez Alcatraz in small and tucked away but it’s well worth finding it in the San Francisco area. It has a laid-back boardwalk kind of feel just as you find at Fisherman’s Wharf, but more importantly, they have a full bar. Chez Alcatraz serves lots of rum and tequila drinks but all other liquors are available.
Many of their drinks are hand-crafted specialties which are very popular among the regulars. This is a good place to kick back with some appetizers and a good drink as you watch the world go by.
The Hopping Pot
As you marvel at the stacked up barrels of booze, a wizard will approach you for your order of witches brew, which is code for a mixed drink. For those in the know, the Deathly Hallows is the drink to ask for. You can ask for one but the wizard will not under any circumstances repeat the drinks name. The drink consists of Strongbow Cider, an amber lager, and a stout, layered so each layer is visible through a clear glass.
The Hopping Pot is a walk up counter more so than a bar but it’s a good place to take a load off for awhile and enjoy a tasty drink. Butterbeer ice cream and various snacks are also served.
The Fountain of Fair Fortune
Just around the corner from the Hopping Pot, the Fountain of Fair Fortune sells similar type drinks with the exception of their own specialty, cinnamon whiskey. One shot of nostril clearing Blishen’s Fire Whiskey will have you breathing right for the rest of the day. Two or three shots will have you walking funny.
It’s a walk through kind of place so you have to get it and go but drinking on the street is perfectly fine, so bottoms up.
Hogwarts Express is a ride which takes visitors to the Islands of Adventure, and it’s perfectly okay to drink a beer on the way. As a matter of fact, there is beer stand right before you enter so you can grab one on your way in. The stand doesn’t just sell run of the mill Miller Lite. They have a fine selection of imported beers, some of which are difficult to find elsewhere.
Islands of Adventure
Just to touch on the Islands of Adventure briefly, your drinking spree doesn’t have to end when you disembark Hogwarts Express. Ale to the Chef, which is a kiosk, and Backwater Bar which a full-scale you name it they got it kind of bar, are both there to help you keep the buzz going you’ve been working on all day.
Universal Studios is way more than a theme park. For lots of adults, it’s a playground where they know they’ll get the best drinks in town and meet up with the friendliest folks around.