Key West Bar Hops
The Keep Calm and Hop On Tour
Hops MacBarley's Ongoing
Key West Bar Boondoggle
Sunday, 28 March 2021, 3:00 PM
Key West Sunset Ale (draft) $6.00
What was once the Sheraton Suites is now Barbary Beach House, a more exotic name for a more upscale property.
What was once Cabana Bar -- Hop #103 on a rainy and lonely mid-week afternoon – would now be Shipwreckers, Hop #344 on a hot and sunny early Spring Sunday, a much better day to have a cold beer in hand and overlook a large pool!
I really like the structure of this place anyway, but coming in from below, like I did today, makes it looks impressive. Coming to it from the lobby, it all just seems flat, even though it is a good bit above pool level.
It has that really solid wood look: thick uprights, broad beams, and a hefty octagonal roof. The overhangs are wide, so even if it rains, you are kept safe and dry as you wet your whistle.
Big circular fans provide a breeze; the tall buildings block out wind.
Thumbs-up on the tall bar seats too! Mesh back, mesh sides, and a cushion under your beeehind. These are good set-a-spell chairs. You get all comfy and hang out for a while.
So, yeah, on this day, I did not arrive through the lobby. I was not planning on a Stealth Hop, but I wasn’t totally sure if Shipwreckers was only for guests or if the public (i.e., me) was welcome as well. That didn’t really daunt me, though. It was around the standard arrival time, so having a beer at the bar while you wait for your friends to check in is pretty normal behavior.
I know a couple of people who work here too, so I had names in my pocket that I could drop, though I never like to resort to that. Don’t like paying the Resort Fee. Har har har. A little hotel humor. =)
Also, Shipwreckers overlaps with Drifter’s Cove, the on-property restaurant. Such places can’t rely on guests’ money alone; they’d be crazy not to let the public in. Maybe the swankest of the swank places might stay exclusive, but, man, if I can go eat and drink at Latitudes (#279) on Sunset Key, I better be allowed in here.
But, like I started to say before I interrupted myself, I didn’t come through the lobby. After I parked my van in the lot, I noticed an open gate under the walkways between the buildings. There was a sign that said “POOL.” I went in that way, saw the tall tower looming ahead and knew it was Hop On.
A handful of steps later, I had a choice: ramps or another gate, this one solid double doors. Not quite the gates of Mordor, but the same general premise. A lot smaller and a lot whiter, however.
Maybe I was intimidated, because I chose the ramps. I got part way up, though, realized how lonnnnnnnng the upward zig-zag was and changed course.
The delay proved timely because a woman approached the gate at the same time that I did. Ever the gentleman, I gestured her to go ahead. She grabbed the doorhandle and – oops – locked. Hmmmm, guests only, it would appear. No matter, though, she turned her wrist band up against the sensor, the latch clicked open, and she even held the door for me to come in behind her. Ha, an unwitting accomplice.
Suddenly poolside, I was impressed with how many people were in that cement pond. Can’t say I blamed ‘em though. It had to be at 85° out here and without a breeze down here in the bowl, it felt like 100.
The bar loomed tall and promising way up there, so way up there I went. Just one bar seat remained, next to a pretty, young woman (commas matter). I settled in and realized that, hmmmm, I know that bartender. So much for anonymity.
I could tell that I rang a bell in his head too, but I could also tell that he did not know from where. I gave Jason a big "Hi! Howyadoin'?" and ordered up a Key West Sunset Ale. When he brought it, I was already handing him a sawbuck, thus avoiding the dangerous question of which room to charge it to.
The only time that particular quandary derailed me was at H2O (Hop #325), where I had infiltrated the guests-only pool bar on the roof, ordered a beer, and was flatly told by Zabrina (the barkeep) that they could not accept cash or cards, and that room charge was the sole option. Rather than picking a number at random, I bluntly asked, “How about if I just give you a big tip?” and held a sawbuck over her tip jar. “That’ll work.” Chicchh. Ahhh.
[That doesn’t jive with Hopter 325, but there’s a reason for that. Since I doubt Z still works there and will not get in trouble, I can now reveal the truth. Such a burden off my soul…]
Anyway, cold cup of KWSA in hand, Hop #344 was consummated. I could sit back and dig the hot-day-poolside vibe.
happened to be seated next to the server’s station, so I was
privy to all the walk-up orders.
After a few minutes, two nine-year-old boys in really
loud attire stepped up and asked Jason for two Virgin Daiquiris
and an order of fries.
was good to them, treating like young gentlemen, despite their
obnoxious tropical shirts and goofy sunglasses.
He asked what room to charge it too.
One of the boys gave
a number. I watched
with interest to see if Young Hops was going pull off the heist.
Jason said, “OK” and appeared to ring in the number. The boys nodded to each other with satisfaction. Then Jason said, “I’m gonna need your parents to come up and sign for the room charge, though, k?”
The boys’ balloon burst. They fidgeted. Jason read it and added, “or you wanna pay cash?”
The spokeskid kind of glumly said, “We’ll pay cash.” It was like $22 too!
had to wonder, though, why they couldn’t summon the ‘rents. Maybe Mom and Dad had
left the kids here and gone off to get loopy on Duval Street? Or maybe they were up
in the room, getting, um, “reacquainted”?
I hoped it was the latter.
I shrugged ‘em off, gave them a wordless nice try, kid nod and turned my attention back to the pool. It would have looked inviting if there were not so many people in it.
The far end, at the waterfall, looked kinda empty, and I could easily imagine myself, arms spread wide, head back, and face getting drummed by the fall of the colder water. Ahhhhhhhhhh.
But I was damn comfortable here in the shade, plus I felt I had pushed my luck far enough. Barbary Beach House certainly would not object to my giving money to them for a beer, but they just as certainly would frown on my taking up pool space for free.
No need to ruffle feathers, so I gathered my stuff and prepared to leave.
“Another round?” suggested Jason.
“No,” I said, “gotta go meet my friends,” and gestured towards the registration desk.
He nodded. Then after a pause he said, “I wish I had friends to meet…”
If he only knew the irony of his words. Maybe he did?
exit route was through the lobby (no point in sneaking out, is
there?) and as walked toward that door, I passed the two
nine-year-olds, sitting quietly by themselves at a six-top
table, hats crooked, legs dangling, drinks half drunk, and
waiting patiently for their fries.
I felt like telling Young Hops, "Ya
lost today, kid. But you don't have to like it," and
dropping my hat on his head, like that dude did to River
Phoenix (RIP) in the opening scene of Indiana Jones and
the Last Crusade.
But I didn't have a hat. And
the kid already did. Screw it. Outa here.
is open to the public, so all my stealth was just
for practice. I was told by one of my aforementioned
inside contacts that there is even a 10% Locals Discount!