Review The Local Draught House
While I don’t consider myself to be in the category of the “elderly” – I do have this habit of joking with door personnel who insist on checking my identification by informing them that I’m halfway to 70. However, the truth is that I’m constantly reminded of just how distinct my current lifestyle is from my wilder 20s.
So, when I stepped into the fresh establishment of the Local Draught House in Tampa’s Northdale neighborhood, the first thing that struck me was the sheer volume of noise. It’s a classic case of either perishing young or enduring long enough to become that individual on Yelp lamenting about the blaring rap music, isn’t it?
The Local Draught House proudly boasts an extensive array of Florida’s finest draft beer selections from its impressive lineup of 30 taps. You’ll discover revered brews like Coppertail, Tampa Bay Brewing Co., and Green Bench. Then there’s 3 Daughters, Brew Bus, Two Henrys, Cycle, Funky Buddha, and even the renowned Yuengling. Moreover, there are some hidden gems, such as beers hailing from Escape, Proof, Inoculum, and Brew Hub.
Though there’s a menu dedicated to shots, I reckon I’m still a few years away from that stage of seeking lost youth. Hence, I opt for a refreshing Rome City IPA.
Once I’ve acclimated to the auditory ambiance – which, I must admit, is amplified by my decision to sit right in front of the TouchTunes jukebox – I start to appreciate the establishment. This bar is quite impressive, I must say. I can still blend in with the hip crowd. Really.
For a watering hole situated in a shopping center, the Local Draught House has undergone quite a sophisticated transformation. Rustic wooden panels envelop the walls, ascending up to approximately 12 feet, while an unfinished aluminum ceiling and exposed ductwork lend an industrial touch to the place.
I’m not sure if it’s intentional, but when you sit at the bar and gaze towards the rear of the room, it almost feels like you’re on a vintage city street, gazing at the facades of weathered wooden structures. Sure, it’s a city street that happens to have arcade games and a foosball table, but it conjures a fun and somewhat unintentional illusion.
One aspect that particularly strikes me is the amiable demeanor of the bartenders. Within a few sips of my beer, I find myself on a first-name basis with the staff. It dawns on me that this marks the third location for the Local Draught House chain, with another outpost in downtown Tampa and one up by the University of South Florida. The bartenders, who effortlessly transition between locations, seem rather pleased with the local following that the Northdale branch has garnered in its mere four months of operation.
Beyond the warm and friendly service, the Local Draught House offers an array of incentives designed to transform Northdale residents into loyal regulars. The all-day happy hour specials, featuring a rotating selection of $3, $4, and $5 deals, are a tempting enticement. Moreover, there’s a Local Loyalty club that rewards patrons handsomely for their repeat visits, awarding points per dollar spent, with multipliers coming into play during special events. In addition to substantial discounts on bar tabs (such as a $10 deduction from any $25 or more tab for every 100 points accumulated at a $1 per point standard rate), there are enticing swag prizes and even a chance to win a trip for two to Las Vegas, requiring a grand total of 100,000 points. If you can decipher the puzzle of optimizing this promotion by aligning your visits with multiplier days, you might just be ready for a Vegas adventure.
As I alluded to earlier, the term “local” in the establishment’s name doesn’t solely pertain to the bar’s patrons. There’s a strong emphasis on locally produced libations, spanning from the aforementioned draft beer lineup to a selection of Florida spirits that prominently feature in the house cocktail menu.
You’ll encounter copious amounts of Florida Cane vodka sourced from Tampa, infused with locally grown fruits. The bar stocks rum from Siesta Key and Old St. Pete Distillery. The excellent New World gin from St. Augustine takes the spotlight in one of the finest gimlets I’ve had in quite some time. While it would be nice to see some Florida whiskies added to the mix (like Fish Hawk) to complete the local offering, this is certainly a commendable beginning.
The Local Draught House presents a compelling case for Northdale residents to adopt it as their cherished local watering hole, as long as they don’t mind the booming music. It wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned for a quiet weekday evening, but, in the end, I found it surprisingly easy to warm up to the place.
The affable staff and the emphasis on Florida-produced beverages undoubtedly made the transition smoother.