Mardi Gras Drinks at Universal Orlando
While I am sure that it is possible to find good wine in Orlando, Florida, I didn’t have time to go looking on my whirlwind trip to Universal Orlando recently for their Mardi Gras festivities.
I was there to 1) learn about gumbo 2) ride the rides and 3) have a good time. Eat like a Girl (Niamh) and I were were covering Mardi Gras (she food, me drinks) and what kind of a Mardi Gras is it without at least some alcohol? I have to admit I didn’t drink anything while in the parks because I knew if I had so much as a beer, I’d be spewing and making a lot of enemies on the rides. But after dark, well, we hit City Walk.
City Walk is Universal’s strip of restaurants, bars and clubs lining the path to the park entrances. It’s free of charge to enter City Walk and it even boasts a 20 screen cinema. Since you don’t have to pay to get into City Walk it’s very popular with the locals as a fun night out, as we discovered when we tried to get something to eat on Saturday night.
90 minute wait for a table at 10pm? Where were we? Argentina? We finally opted for Bubba Gump’s as the wait there was only 30 minutes. Bubba Gump’s as you might imagine, is a spin off from the Forrest Gump movie and serves lots of shrimp dishes as well as some mighty smooth margaritas. At this point I was so tired and jet lagged that anything would have been good but that margarita most certainly hit the spot. A proper American sized drink, it came with it’s own full sized shaker so we could serve ourselves. I like my margaritas on the sweet side to play up against the salt on the rim and they have to be on the rocks, no brain freeze for me, please. One thing I love about American bars, they free pour, meaning, they don’t use measures, just pour until they think there’s enough alcohol in there to make you happy (and tip more), the drinks are loaded. Our margaritas were strong but not strong enough to knock us out. And the best part, cost less then 10 bucks (£6) and we had ordered the top shelf margaritas, no generic tequila for us.
The next night we went to the legendary Pat O’Brien’s. An Irish pub from New Orleans, they have a branch in Orlando and they’re famous for their Hurricanes, which didn’t disappoint. A rum concoction, it was juicy and tropical fruity, it reminded me of Hawaiian punch, and at first I thought it didn’t have any alcohol in it but it was so expertly made that the power of it kind of snuck up on you, like a hurricane does, I suppose! There was no warning here, just bam! I’m glad I didn’t complain about the lack of alcohol. As an added bonus, we got to take home the unique Hurricane glass it comes in and again, all for 10 bucks! I love America
Seeing as we were getting such good deals, we had to order a Maker’s Mark Manhattan, on the rocks, natch. That is one thing I do miss here, a proper Manhattan on the rocks. I find it really hard to find a good one in London and when you do it is outrageously expensive. Not to mention they usually serve it straight up in martini glass despite the oft repeated request for it to be on the rocks, with ice, etc. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to send back, more then once sometimes, to get it served properly. I remember once, I asked for it with ice and the bartender plopped in two cubes! And don’t even get me started on the garnish, sadly, maraschino cherries are not very common in the UK and neither are orange slices. Although the manhattan at Pat O’Brien’s was served in a small tumbler, it was on the rocks and was strong! It had to be at least 80% bourbon but at least we did get our money’s worth. They were so strong that combined with the Hurricane, I skipped the morning gym the next day.
The last day we were there, we had a couple of hours to kill before boarding our plane so we whiled away the afternoon in Margaritaville. Yes, Jimmy Buffet of Margaritaville fame has a restaurant and a cabana bar at City Walk. We opted for the cabana bar/hut for our final drinks in Orlando. Margaritas again, what else does one have in Margaritaville? Since we were sitting outside, they came in plastic cups but that kind of went with the whole, lost-on-a-desert-island feel of the bar. I watched the bartender make our margaritas and I swear it was at least half full of tequila. Although the mixer was sweet, whatever else he put in there made it another great margarita. The tequila was in there, I know but you couldn’t really tell, or at least I couldn’t. Soaking up the sun with a margarita in my hand, heaven. I didn’t want to leave Margaritaville but British Airways wasn’t going to wait for us so we bid a fond farewell to Orlando and headed back to freezing cold London.
Europe has the best wines in my opinion but it can’t touch the States when it comes to cocktails, try as they might, you gotta go to the source.