Few things in life pair together as well as a delicious adult beverage, and sexy music pumping out of a proper sound system. It’s hard to beat coming home after a long day at the office, throwing on some classic reggae and cracking open a frothy one from any of our many local breweries. It seems like every month over the last couple years there’s been a new bar, music venue or brewing company popping up from downtown to the beaches. It’s a thing of beauty, complimenting the overall cultural renaissance Jacksonville has been enjoying for the better part of a decade.
No matter your preferred style of beverage — from small batch craft liquors, to locally fermented hops and barley — there’s a barstool or dance floor out there that can satisfy your craving. The following are just a few of our favorite spots around town to experience some live music and throw one (or four) back.
Freebird has become a staple of the beaches community, and of Jacksonville’s music landscape as a whole. Coming up on their 15th anniversary next month, the Jacksonville Beach venue consistently showcases a variety of local and national talent. Week after week, talent buyer, Tim Hall, brings in an eclectic mix of acts to satisfy audiophiles of every type. With a two-story layout (each of which with a full bar) and a wrap-around balcony overlooking the dance floor, there really isn’t a bad spot in the building for viewing the stage.
Green Room Brewing
Since opening in June of 2011, Green Room Brewing has stuck true to its humble beginnings, while gaining massive popularity among local beer aficionados. Located in the heart of Jacksonville Beach on 3rd Street, the brewery maintains an impressive roster of innovative, delicious brews that originated on premises. Green Room offers eight permanent and nine rotating seasonal/one-off beers on tap (all their own creations), along with a few guest taps showcasing other Florida breweries. Oh yeah, the music! There’s live music every Friday and Saturday night featuring a variety of local talent.
1904 Music Hall
Very few establishments can rival the mighty one-two punch of music and booze that 1904 Music Hall has going on these days. Their prime location in the heart of The Elbow entertainment district places them on the frontline of downtown’s sprawling music, food, art and bar scene. The amount of talent that has graced their stage in the three years they’ve been open is nothing short of incredible. Witnessing Snarky Puppy play to the 300 or so attendees in that intimate room, only days after winning a Grammy, exemplifies what 1904 is about. Add to that over 80 beers in house (with many local selections), and you’ve got a recipe for a damn good night of music.
Just around the block from 1904 Music Hall is another gem of a local spot, Underbelly (former location of The Ivy Ultra Bar). The venue has a large open floor plan, with a few couches and a full bar that stretches the length of the room. It’s a welcoming atmosphere, with a friendly clientele and homogenous mix of music lovers and folks just aiming to tie one on. The staff at Underbelly have done an incredible job of getting top-notch talent on their stage almost every night of the week these days. They’ve been bringing in increasingly larger acts, along with a pleasant balance of local up-and-comers. Underbelly is definitely one of Jacksonville’s best venues, and their future is looking very bright.
Grape & Grain Exchange
If you’re after a more unique experience brimming with ambiance and nostalgia, Grape & Grain Exchange should suit your fancy. Located in the heart of San Marco, Grape & Grain describes itself as, “business in the front, party in the back,” in reference to their inventive layout. When you walk in the front door you’re surrounded by small batch, craft liquor and beer, a generous wine selection, and a bar that seats around 10 patrons. But pass through the rather hidden door to the backside, and you’re transported to a Prohibition-Era speakeasy/jazz bar with romanticism to spare. Grape & Grain produces incredible craft cocktails with meticulous attention to detail. You can also catch a variety of live music three to four nights a week, which you can find a schedule for on their website.