Unlike the rest of America, in Florida, you have go north to go south. More redneck than refined, the rest of the Sunshine State is full of pick-up trucks, Southern twangs and country music. Head north just a few hundred miles, and it's hard to imagine there's a place called Miami.
And despite any lingering South Florida snobbery, there are lots of spots worth visiting elsewhere in the state -- many of which happen to be unforgettable drinking dens. Arguably, the best of the bunch is the iconic Flora-Bama, a mainstay on Perdido Key since the mid-'60s. The bar, half of which sits in Alabama, half in Florida, is also known as the Flo-Bam -- and it's home to mullet-tossing, epic bushwhackers and bikini contests.
What's a mullet toss, you ask? It's where dudes take turns throwing a fish from the Florida side to the 'Bama side. Seriously.
At the Flo-Bam, you can mosey down to the beach and back all day, drink in hand. Proper attire is a bikini and flip flops. Drinks are strong and cheap. What's not to love?
In essence, the Flora-Bama is a sprawling beach shack with an attached circus tent. It's a random maze of rooms, bars, hand-scrawled graffiti, discarded undergarments and nooks and crannies for carousing.
They have live music, Gulf-caught oysters and a package store. They host hurricane parties, polar bear dips and potluck dinners. They have a party bus - and a shuttle service.
Everyone drinks here. From Jimmy Buffett to Warren Buffett. From the janitor to the CEO. From bikers to frat boys. Every age, every race, every demographic. It's the boozy epicenter of the Gulf Coast.
They endured a seriously nasty blow during Hurricane Ivan in '04, but have since reconstructed most of the premises and new additions are a work in progress. It's probably better now than ever before.
Should you make the trek to the Flo-Bam (and believe us, it's worth the trek), here's what you need to know.
Drink a Bushwhacker. It's their signature concoction, a milkshake-esque treat packed with five different liquors. And it's STIFF.
Order some Royal Reds. Arguably the best shrimp in the country, they steam 'em in house. Write your name on the wall/table/floor or whatever else you eyeball a free spot. You can pick up Sharpies in the gift shop, if need be.
Ladies, bring an extra bra and hang it up with the interior collection. This way, a piece of you will be preserved for all posterity. (Try Walmart - because no one needs to be leaving $60 Vicky's lingerie hanging from the ceiling of a wooden shack.) Bring a DD or book a hotel room nearby. Because you're gonna want to drink. A lot. All day. And probably all night.
So for those brave enough to step foot in North Florida and hit up the 'Bama, we wanna hear your stories. And believe us, there will be stories.
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