Helena George, WED | Business travelers need to relax at the end of a long day just like any other professional, but it’s hard to know where to go in a new town that you’re only visiting for a few days. Gainesville, Florida, is well-known for its bar scene, but contrary to what you think of the college town, they’re not all tailored to young twenty-somethings.
KC Crave Is an Exuberant Throwback
Business travelers who want to spend a relaxed evening in a jiving, vivacious hotspot ought to head to KC Crave, one of Gainesville’s newer bars. Considered polished but still casual, it’s both a lounge and a pub. The changing lights add a magical touch to each area, and the bar upstairs would easily look at home in New York City or LA. The music is loud enough for dancing, but while you may have to shout occasionally, it won’t impede your conversation.
It serves the perfect food for cocktails, as well, and specializes in shared plates, which may give you the opportunity to meet your neighbor. Sip on soup or nibble on salad while downing a Henway martini or a Moscow Mule. They’re two of the best drinks you’ll find on the menu. Just make sure you call ahead for a reservation. It’s worth it, however—pretty much everything on the menu is less than $15.
Madrina’s Brings the Artsy Drinks
Although Madrina’s is a cocktail bar with a hipster bent, that’s only visible in the tasteful décor and the aesthetic of the drinks, which the knowledgeable bartenders take care to make with flair—and plenty of alcohol. Prices are mid-range, but more than fair for the locale. The flickering candles, Cuban-inspired decorations, and sleek seating options will transport you to a big, bustling city.
The Chupacabra is one of Madrina’s signature drinks, in no small part because it comes in a golden pineapple cup. Just because you’re traveling for business doesn’t mean you can snag a few cocktail photos for the ‘gram.
Everything’s Easy at 2nd Street Speakeasy
Who doesn’t love a speakeasy? The 2nd Street Speakeasy is the longest running, out of all of Gainesville’s cocktail bars. The ambiance is more than one-of-a-kind. It’s low-key, unspeakably hip, and perhaps more importantly, mature. That’s a standout detail in a town full of college bars. The whole area around 2nd Street is the ideal place to look for hotels in Gainesville, in fact. The atmosphere isn’t as raucous.
Penning down the bar’s most popular drink is impossible. The cocktail menu changes every month, so you can try a new beverage every time you come into town. No one can resist 2nd Street Speakeasy, anyway. Southern Living Magazine considers it one of the best bars in all of the South, and local critics unanimously love it.
Don’t assume that Gainesville has nothing more than college bars filled with excitable students. While you can find plenty of those on an evening when you want to dive into a noisy crowd, there are more than a few bars and cocktail lounges geared toward a quieter crowd.