It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the holidays, you silly goose. It’s summer, when we spend weeks learning about beer, spirits, craft cocktails and the bars that you love.

Ellen E. Clarke, tbt* editor

In this year’s tbt* Ultimate Bar Awards contest, 3,596 votes were cast for a staggering 276 bay area bars. My personal favorite in downtown St. Pete didn’t even make the list (but shoutout to the somewhat hidden but beautiful Room 901). Ties upped our winners from the Top 50 to the Top 53. The brewery craze continues to flow, and although some are Readers’ Choice winners, we’ve listed all 57 breweries operating in the Tampa Bay area.

We’ve also taken a deep dive into the bay area’s craft spirits scene, which has opened the door to buying local even when it comes to liquor. The St. Petersburg Distillery's Banyan Reserve Vodka is a staple in the party cabinet in my home, but I’m excited to sample some of the other hometown options.

A tbt* reporter took one for the team and visited a bucket full of beach bars, coming back with tips on what to drink and where to park. This is serious work, people.

With all this and more, you might want to hold on to the 2017 tbt* Ultimate Bar Guide for research purposes. Although tbt* may be free, the tbt* Ultimate Bar Guide is priceless.


Most expensive drink in the area? A 1-ounce glass of the Remy Martin Louis XIII Rare Cask 42, 6 at Bern’s Steak House in South Tampa will set you back $1,575.

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  • Editor Ellen E. Clarke
  • Marketing director Marti Galloway
  • Advertising director Dawn Philips
  • Art director Kate Rigney
  • Video production James Borchuck and Danese Kenon
  • Photography Dave Morrison and Luis Santana
  • Writers Justin Grant, Laura Reiley, Christopher Spata, Chelsea Tatham and Gina Vivinetto
  • Web designers Lyra Solochek, Lauren Flannery and Scott Pollenz