The Local, from Vivo Italian Kitchen
If you’ve ever visited one of the Universal Orlando theme parks, you know it all begins with a stroll through Universal CityWalk, which is an attraction all its own. One of my favorite things to do on a day I’m not spending a full day in the theme parks is to grab a drink and a bite to eat with some friends at one of the many bars and restaurants dotting CityWalk. If you’re looking for unique and signature cocktails that truly capture the spirit of each of the distinct stops along the way, there’s something you — and everyone else you’re with — will love. Here are my faves at each of CityWalk’s main stops:
Top pick: Lakeside Punch
On a warm day, there are few drinks more refreshing and delicious than this. A combination of vodka and orange, pineapple, and cranberry juices make this a crisp, citrusy choice to sip with just about any item on the menu — my pick is the bourbon cheese fondue, which is served with bread and veggies for dipping.
Honorable mention: PB&J
If you’re looking for a unique and fun twist on your typical Old Fashioned, this drink is for you. The combination of peanut butter whiskey, bourbon, and raspberry liqueur gives you a drink that is a little sweeter than what you might expect, but in a really satisfying way. Sitting down at the bar and looking out over the fire pits outside is really the ideal way to enjoy this sandwich-turned-drink.
Top pick: Ruby Panther
If you like raspberry lemonade, this drink will be a hit. It is refreshing and doesn’t have a strong alcohol flavor, which I appreciate with a cocktail like this. It is made with grapefruit vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice, pink lemonade and raspberries and is one of the most refreshing drinks I’ve had – and came highly recommended by the waitstaff as a crowd favorite. (P.S. The outside seating here is great, as well, and offers a gorgeous view from up top)
Honorable mention: The King Lives
I know what you’re thinking: can a milkshake really be a cocktail? I don’t know if I would say that normally, but in this case, I’m going to say yes. This drink is big enough to share, and is very sweet and delicious. It combines rum, banana liqueur, vanilla ice cream, big chunks of banana and peanut butter cups into a boozy treat worthy of the extra sugar intake. I can’t imagine taking this on alone, but if you’ve got a crew to share with, I wouldn’t pass this one up.
Top pick: Limoncello Collins
This play on the traditional Tom Collins features dry gin, limoncello, simple syrup and lemon juice. I’m not typically a big fan of gin drinks, but the limoncello gives this one a crisp, refreshing flavor profile that is a great complement to the hearty food items you might order here, like the Baked Eggplant Parmigiana or Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo. Extra points for the amazing outdoor seating area that lets you enjoy the atmosphere — and people watch!
Honorable mention: The Local
I’m always a fan of drinking (and eating) local whenever possible, so I love that this cocktail features locally-distilled vodka, along with lime juice, agave syrup, and fig and strawberry jam. The jam brings a slight sweetness to the drink that balances with the lime and vodka perfectly.
Top pick: Old Chocolate Fashioned
It makes sense that one of the best drinks I’ve ever had is a chocolate drink at the Chocolate Emporium. This drink is made with chocolate whiskey, cherry liqueur, chocolate, and orange bitters. The thing that really stands out is the balance between the chocolate and bourbon — this is something that would even appeal to those who aren’t big bourbon drinkers, but isn’t so sweet that it is a big departure from the Old Fashioned vibe you’d expect. It’s a great twist on a classic that is executed perfectly. I especially enjoyed sipping on this one from the upstairs bar, which offers pretty spectacular views of all of CityWalk.
Honorable mention: Peach Smash
This is a bourbon enthusiast jackpot. It’s made with bourbon, peach puree, lime juice and aromatic bitters, which gives it a nice complexity while still maintaining a bourbon-forward flavor to it.
Top pick: Crimson Derby
This fruity cocktail is a blend of rum, cherry liqueur, simple syrup, lime juice and pineapple juice and is a great option if you prefer a mixed drink to the huge beer selection NBC Sports Grill has. This is a clear fave if you want to settle in to watch something on game day and munch on pretzel while you drink.
Honorable mention: Southern Margarita
Moonshine is the star of this cocktail, along with triple sec, agave nectar, and fresh orange and lime juice. It makes for an excellent version of a margarita with a deeper flavor profile that is unique without seeming like a totally different drink.
Top pick: Bourbon Horchata
I won’t deny that I like bourbon a lot, but this drink is great even if you’re not as big of a fan as I am. The horchata and cinnamon balance out the bite of the bourbon and make for an authentic-tasting Mexican drink that you can’t find anywhere else. Plus, being serenaded by the mariachi band while you drink it really adds a whole new level of uniqueness to the experience.
Honorable mention: Pineapple Fire and Ice
I’m not usually a fan of spicy drinks, but this one is so fun and different that I can’t help but recommend it as one to try. This twist on a margarita is made with pineapple jalapeño tequila, agave nectar, fresh lime, and a pineapple ice pop. I love the inclusion of the ice pop, which makes for a head-turning presentation.
Top pick: Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane
If you know, you know. Hurricanes are famous for a reason, and Pat O’Brien’s is the home of the original Hurricane, made with rum and hurricane mix (which is a combination of orange and passionfruit juice). If you’ve never had this drink from this bar, you’re missing out. It is a must-try for anyone who wants a classic cocktail made by the experts. Check out the inside of the bar for a fun dueling piano show and a secret outside seating spot to really get the full experience.
Honorable mention: Fuzzy Leprechaun
If the adorable name isn’t enough to pique your interest, this drink is made from the amazing combination of vodka, peach schnapps, blue curacao, and orange and pineapple juice. It is fruity and delicious without being overly sweet and is a good choice if you’ve had your fill of Hurricanes.
Top pick: Rhythm & Rose’ Mule
This take on the popular drink is creative and delicious. Combining vodka, rosé, passion fruit, green tea, lime and ginger beer, this mule has a crisp, slightly bitter taste that is perfect if you are looking for a cocktail that isn’t too sweet.
Honorable mention: Purple Haze
This drink is a doozy, made from vodka, gin and rum, with sweet and sour mix, lemon-lime soda, and raspberry liqueur. It is tasty and the liquor flavor definitely comes through on this one.
Top pick: Mango Margarita
It shouldn’t be a surprise that my favorite drink at Margaritaville is a margarita (those with keen eyes will notice I’ve slipped several into honorable mentions in this whole article…), but I was a little surprised to find it was a flavored one. The mango is refreshing and light, and doesn’t have a strong tequila flavor, which I personally prefer. This particular drink is made with house mango tequila, triple sec, orange juice, house margarita mix and agave.
Honorable mention: Who’s to Blame
This is the signature margarita of Margaritaville and is a classic combination of house tequila, triple sec, and house margarita mix. It is well-crafted and there’s no better place to sit back and sip this cocktail and take in the atmosphere.
Top pick: One love
This cocktail, made from rum, blue curacao, blackberry liqueur and pineapple juice, is sweet and fruity, and is perfect for mentally transporting you to a warm beach in the Caribbean (especially if you’re taking in some of the bar’s live music while you drink it.)
Honorable mention: Uncle Wray’s Rum Punch
Another sweet rum punch, this time featuring white rum, amaretti, crème de banana liqueur and orange and pineapple juices. I find this one is a touch sweeter than One Love, but both are great tropical drinks to sip on and take in the atmosphere.
Top pick: Rum Forrest Rum
Some drinks find their signature nature in their ingredients, but some get it from their name. This one is a rum punch with two types of rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, orange juice, and grenadine. It is delicious and the themed name is a hit with every friend group I’ve been here with.
Honorable mention: Jenny’s Pink Lemonade
This cocktail is a bit vodka-heavy, with citrus, mandarin, and raspberry vodkas, but the passion fruit puree, cranberry juice, and lemonade help balance it out a bit. It is still a strong drink, though, and there’s no mistaking you’re getting your money’s worth with this one.
Where’s your favorite spot to grab a drink in CityWalk? Let us know on social media or in the comments below.
Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.