8608 N Lombard St., 477-5489, centralhotelstjohns.com. 2-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 2 pm-2:30 am Friday, 10 am-2:30 am Saturday, 10 am-10 pm Sunday.
From the cultural ashes of past dive bars at this location on the edge of the St. Johns "town square" comes the Central Hotel's Art Deco-inspired peacock logo. Shining like a phoenix over the still-ongoing blight of graffiti and drug deals, it speaks of future promise—specifically, a hip, in-the-works four-story boutique hotel—but currently delivers on some of the most competently made old-timey cocktails seen anywhere in the city. From the Moscow Mule (in era-appropriate copper cup, with hand-picked ice chunk) to the otherworldly, lavender-scented Violette Drop, even the most discerning connoisseur will be hard-pressed to find fault in bar manager Becky Larson's masterworks. The d´Ecor is inarguably functional, punctuated with the occasional pop of stained glass or dried herbs, but with the low lighting, lottery machines obscured with lavender drapes, and rows of apothecary jars infusing a range of housemade tinctures and bitters, it gives the vibe of an actual speakeasy. (Password: gentrification.)
Happy hour: 4-7 pm Monday-Friday, all day Sunday. $1 off house cocktails, 50 cents off drafts.
Entertainment: Pool, pingpong, Friday-Saturday poker games.