Out of Sight

Beer and wine bar The Thirsty Topher wins patrons over with hidden charm.

You won’t find TVs at The Thirsty Topher. But you will find a lot of conversation.

Roberto Gonzalez

Tucked away in Ivanhoe Village sits a small, unassuming shack with a simple banner that reads “The Thirsty Topher.” From the outside it looks antique in a way that’s reminiscent of an old shed in a backyard—but inside, an intimate, dark-wooded space with well-informed bartenders and an indulgent craft beer menu awaits. Check out our five reasons to love The Thirsty Topher.

It feels like home. Racks of green plants hung on the walls, custom redwood tables, strands of bistro lights, and welcoming bartenders who know patrons by name exude a sense of familiarity and comfort. Though there are no TVs, it’s for good reason. “We’re bringing back conversation,” says co-owner Jason Perez. “You often walk into a bar and people are just watching TV. But here, we’re learning how to talk again.” Patrons of all walks of life converse, buy rounds, and hug on the way out. It’s almost like visiting the house of an old friend. 

The beer list is adventurous. And long. With 24 beers on tap and 30 bottled brands in the fridge, there’s a lot to peruse. Fall brings an exciting selection of pumpkin stouts, hard ciders, black ales and, recently, a beer by Funky Buddha (a south Florida brewery) called Blueberry Cobbler. “We let people decide what they want from us, and what they wanted was more draft beer,” says Perez. (The demand for tapped craft brews was so overwhelming that they expanded from 16 taps to 24 over the course of 2014.) The bar also sells wine and offers a curated list that covers every kind of grape.

They’re order-in and food-truck friendly. A failed food menu led the owners to do right by local businesses, like Wolfies Pizzamia, and allow people to order food to be delivered directly to the bar—they’ll even call it in for you. On Thursdays, expect to see food truck Sushi & Seoul on the Roll; on Fridays, Daydream Pizza parks in the lot. Bonus: An alternative to the common bar pretzels, cups of Goldfish crackers are a staple here.

There’s no owner anonymity. Don’t be surprised to see Perez or co-owner Ron DiDonato serving up beers and chatting with customers. They purposely don’t have a phone for the bar, and readily give out their personal numbers to patrons. “We want to be easily reachable,” says DiDonato. “And because of that, our customers feel like a real part of this place.”

It’s one-of-a-kind. Try to find another successful shed-turned-craft-beer-bar around town. You can’t. “This was almost like a social experiment. We were trying to get the best crowd, and still cater to everybody, and make people happy in what was once a shed,” says Perez. That they’re celebrating their one-year anniversary this month speaks of their success at drawing a contented and consistent clientele. Though the bar is out of sight, once you visit, it’s never out of mind. 

What's in a Name?

Perez came up with “The Thirsty Topher” in a class at Valencia College, where a Renaissance humanities professor kept calling the people of the time “tophers.” He defined them as “people who work hard and play hard.” Perez never forgot it. “Even then,” he says, “I thought, ‘Hey, that would be a great name for a bar.’ ”

Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

College Guide List 2019

2019 Premier Veterinarians

The 2019 Central Florida List is OUT! Each year Orlando Magazine publishes the Premier Veterinarians List. Take a look at the full list now.

2018 Premier Doctors

Our annual list of over 500 doctors.

Real Estate All Stars 2019

Let Orlando's best real estate agents help you find your dream home!

Retirement Living 2019

This feature highlights several great retirement communities that Central Florida has to offer.

Orlando's Best Lawyers 2019

Our annual list includes hundreds of Orlando-area attorneys in dozens of areas of practice.

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2019

Our annual list featuring 220 of the area's finest dental professionals.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Health Hub: Take The Feel Whole Challenge With Us

Now is the best time to start! Come take the Feel Whole Challenge with us!

Upgrade Your Specs! Oxford Eyes In Ivanhoe Village

Get ready for Fall with the latest eyewear trends and avoid those busy malls!

Focus On With Dr. Sadek: Women’s Health and Epilepsy

Did you know women face additional challenges with epilepsy due to hormones?

Health Hub: Why Are Flu Shots Important?

Fall has arrived, and with it, the start of flu season. While you can get the flu at any time, cases typically rise in October and hit their peak around the holidays. Learn why it's important to get your flu shot!

Special Olympics Florida Celebrates Its Annual Champions Gala

This annual exclusive event honors community leaders and fundraises for statewide athletics!
Edit Module