Shades Bar & Grill has been an area mainstay since first opening in Seaside in 1994. Since that time, Shades (as it is more commonly known) has grown up and moved into larger and more sophisticated digs, now bordering Rosemary Beach and Inlet Beach. With ample choice of seating (including an outdoor patio) and a menu that offers a wide variety of options, Shades can honestly claim “something for everyone” appeal, but in truth it’s the large, curving bar that is the centerpiece – where locals gather to see familiar faces, and visitors find conversation and a warm welcome.
One of those familiar faces is Morgan “Momo” Davis, who has been with the team at Shades for more than 5 years. Moving to the beaches of northwest Florida from Dallas, Texas, was an easy decision, she says. And when asked to name two of the bar’s most popular drinks? Just as easy: The Moscow Mule and the traditional Old Fashioned.
“They’re both super popular. Moscow Mule is the new thing, and the Old Fashioned – all those old-school pre-prohibition drinks are back. They’re delicious, easy, fun cocktails – that’s what 30A’s all about.
The Moscow Mule is easy to spot – served in a copper mug, the drink is made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, lime juice, and a slice of lime. First mixed in the 1940s, the drink has made a comeback in recent years and it’s refreshing character make it a good match for Florida’s usual weather.
However, when temperatures cool, brown liquors become more fashionable. Which is just fine with Morgan.
“I appreciate bourbon,” she says. “I appreciate people that love bourbon.”
Bourbon lovers are more likely to favor the Old Fashioned. Sugar and bitters are muddled with an orange slice, then served with a maraschino cherry. It’s warming without being harsh, and the bitters balance out the drink’s natural sweetness, making the Old Fashioned a truly classic drink.
Looking for a happy compromise? Morgan suggests trying the Kentucky Mule. Vodka is replaced with bourbon, and the drink takes on a Southern twist with muddled mint leaves and lime, proving that at Shades, you really can have it all.
Shades Bar & Grill is located on the eastern end of 30A, at 10952 East Co. 30A.
In addition to a sophisticated full bar, there are also 46 beers on tap, with a happy hour 3-6 Monday through Friday.