Multifaceted craft-beer pub gives customers room to express themselves.
Blank Space is a social meeting place for condo dwellers.
Photo By Norma Lopez Molina
With Ikea-style furniture everywhere you look, walls covered with artwork and a record player spinning vinyl, Blank Space Gallery & Lounge looks more like the interior of a starving artist’s urban loft than a pub that treats beer as if it were wine.
Set on the northeast corner of East Central Boulevard and Rosalind Avenue by Lake Eola Park, Blank Space is a walk-to bar for downtown’s condo dwellers. Maybe that explains the crowd, a 30-and-under bunch of well-dressed singles who hang out in a tiny room that hosts everything from book club meetings to a live jazz trio to art and burlesque shows during the week.
The bar’s beer selection is overwhelming, with more than 100 craft beers and a rotating seasonal beer menu to consider. But if you’re intimidated by the overload of choices, ask a bartender for help. The staff knows beer down to the ingredients used in various brands, so if you tell them you prefer a smooth flavor with no aftertaste, you’ll get it.
Craft beer is all the rage these days, made by small-time independent brewers that view beer-making as art. At Blank Space, craft beer is treated with the same reverence that wine bars are known to bestow upon their inventory. Here, every beer is poured into a glass specific to that beer. Operating manager David Desormoux Jr. says he wants beers to breathe properly so customers can taste their full flavors. This is not the place for a chugging contest.
The music that a bar plays can often tell you the kind of clientele it gets: jazz, a polite crowd of all ages and races; hard rock, white people who can’t dance to R&B. It’s hard to make such a generalization about Blank Space’s customer base because the music is all over the map. Customers can bring their own tunes, either on vinyl or in an iPod or smartphone, for everyone to hear over the sound system.
Blank Space used to be the site of a real estate sales office, with printouts of property listings in its windows. Now people sit by the colorfully decorated windows while passing motorists and pedestrians catch a glimpse of them, wondering what is going on in that corner building. (201 E. Central Blvd., Orlando; 407-481-9001, blank
Mucho offers 130 different brands of tequilas.
Tequila: it’s for Sipping
If tequila has graduated from a bad decision that sorority girls make during spring break to a drink of respectability, how then does one explain the big chair in Mucho Tequila and Tacos? It’s for someone to sit in while tequila is poured down his or her throat.
But in moderation, tequila is a smooth drink, with many brands at 80 proof, making it no more dangerous than a light cocktail.
Mucho, a Thornton Park Tex-Mex restaurant, has a bar full of tequilas and a lively atmosphere that encourages you to try a few of them. The cost of a shot ranges from $2 to $89, with the latter being for Patrón Gran Burdeos.
Order a flight of good-quality tequilas ($14-$19)—with shots of silver (the most common), smooth reposado, and aged and super-smooth añejo—and drink each one as if it were wine. Sip an añejo and you will come to appreciate tequila’s finer qualities, something you would never realize sitting in that chugging chair. (101 S. Eola Drive, Orlando; 407-843-9676, muchoorlando.com)