BY LAURA HAMPTON
A leisurely drive down scenic A1A has always been a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but the breezy coastal tour just got a little sweeter.
Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Citrus, St. Augustine Distillery and St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau launched the A1A Cocktail Trail, a trail of bars and restaurants that serve up original cocktails featuring farm fresh Florida citrus and spirits from the St. Augustine Distillery.
With a special passport, available at Florida Welcome Centers and participating bars and restaurants, cocktail lovers can check out eight participating establishments from Atlantic Beach to St. Augustine.
The only criteria is the cocktail must be made with fresh Florida citrus and St. Augustine Distillery spirits, so the possibilities are limited only by the bartender’s (and in some cases, the customer’s) imagination.
On the trail, guests will find exotic flavors with clever names like Hang Thyme and Spanish Breeze. Each is specially crafted to showcase Florida’s No. 1 agricultural export — citrus — and St. Augustine’s newest agricultural pursuit – small-batch distilling.
“We are excited about putting Florida on the map as a state that is creating some of the freshest cocktails by combining locally made spirits from Florida agriculture with the world’s finest citrus,” said Philip McDaniel, cofounder and CEO of the St. Augustine Distillery. “Together, with the Florida Department of Citrus and Visitors and Convention Bureau, we are proud to promote the spirit of Florida.”
As tasty as the cocktails are, enjoying them in bars with some of the best oceanfront, river and bayfront views in the region is a quintessential Florida east coast experience and a must-do for fruity drink lovers.
For information, go to a1acocktailtrail.com.
Bonus: Once a participant has their passport stamped at all eight locations, they can redeem it for a free collectible A1A Cocktail Trail T-shirt and branded, wooden coaster set from the St. Augustine Distillery.
Participating bars and eateries
Fresh seafood from the waters of North Florida make this bustling, airy, beach chic restaurant a hit with locals.
For more than 30 years, Ragtime’s Tap Room and backyard patio have been an Atlantic Beach favorite. An A1A Mule made with St. Augustine Florida Cane Vodka, fresh lime and ginger beer is one of the many offerings featuring Florida citrus.
A Bavarian-inspired pub and beer garden, Hoptinger has more than 60 craft beers on tap in addition to an extensive cocktail menu and famous bar snacks like cheese curds and Poutine.
An Old Florida-style restaurant on the Intracoastal Waterway, Cap’s is a local favorite for coastal cuisine and stunning sunset views.
Best known for panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, the restaurant serves seafood and other modern dishes.
A little quirky with a lot of attention to detail, this little bar makes craft cocktails an art form.
Known locally for using fresh, local ingredients, the restaurant features a Southern comfort dining experience.
Flavors here are influenced by a variety of Caribbean, Cuban and Florida cuisine. The restaurant also offers a stunning view of the Matanzas Bay and the Bridge of Lions, plus an on-site brewery.