Cocktail details St. Pete grand opening

ABOVE: Owner David Fischer discusses Cocktail ahead of its grand opening April 21. Photo by Ryan Williams-Jent.

ST. PETERSBURG | Cocktail will open in the Grand Central District May 7, promising “stiff drinks, hard liquor and raging good times” as Tampa Bay’s newest LGBTQ bar.

The space is the latest concept from entrepreneur David Fischer, the interior designer behind ZaZoo’d, which offers an eclectic variety of goods and services. He opened The Saint last year as well, a speakeasy which quickly became another St. Petersburg staple.

Fischer, who also worked as an executive for Darden Restaurants for 25 years until his retirement at 46, says he always wanted to own a bar. It wasn’t his years in the service industry that led to his operating two of them, however, but rather his eye for design.

One of his earliest St. Petersburg projects was for Michael Andoniades, owner of sister hotels The Avalon and The Hollander. The two continued their working relationship after Andoniades also purchased the historic Mari-Jean Hotel.

The building is the current home of The Saint and Cocktail, which has nearly completed construction. It will eventually house The Wet Spot, a third bar near a pool which Fischer will also run.

“He wanted to put some bars in the building and I said I’d always wanted to own one,” Fischer recalls. “He said, ‘Well, why don’t you just run all three of these?’”

The Saint’s construction began ahead of Cocktail’s, allowing Fischer to familiarize himself with operating a more intimate space before opening the larger LGBTQ bar. “I’ve done restaurants and bars all my life, so it’s not new to me,” he muses. “I don’t know why I’ve always wanted to own one – I guess I’m crazy because here I am doing it at 53 years old.”

Cocktail will be open from noon-3 a.m. six days per week, closing only on Mondays. In addition to management, its initial staff will consist of 14.

That will allow for an expected three bartenders per shift in the 2,600-square-foot space, which will offer three bar wells for patrons to order from Cocktail’s specialty drink menu. View a preliminary version of the menu below:

The bar will also offer happy hour utilizing Woody’s, Cocktail’s version of a drink chip:

In addition, fan favorite Tampa Bay performer Adriana Sparkle will serve as the entertainment director for all of Fischer’s bars:

“We will have drag shows, we will have Go-Go boys, we will have karaoke,” Fischer says, “and then we will have some nights where it varies. We’re really going to try to mix up the kind of talent we feature to keep it new and more unusual than your typical entertainment lineup.”

In designing Cocktail, Fischer says he was inspired by Georgie’s Alibi. The popular venue closed in 2015 after serving Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ community for 15 years.

“What I liked about Georgie’s was that there were spaces within it where the music was not so loud and you could have a conversation,” he explains. “You could talk to people – and then if you wanted to go dance, you went and danced.”

He hopes Cocktail will provide for both experiences. It will offer numerous seating areas and feature a lounge and dance bar.

Fischer says reception has been mostly positive thus far, though he admits Cocktail’s branding – which emphasizes the first four letters of its name – has drawn some ire. “Someone turned in a zoning violation notice for us,” he says. “To me that immediately says, ‘Hello. We see your homophobia and we hear you loud and clear.’”

Some members of the LGBTQ community also expressed their concerns, namely that the bar will cater only to gay men. Fischer notes that “it wasn’t meant to only be male inclusive. It just worked with the name and that’s where the logo went.”

He adds that as is the case with all of his businesses, the entire community will be celebrated at Cocktail, where he’s working to provide an upscale feeling without upscale prices. Fischer invites everyone to experience it for themselves beginning May 7:

Cocktail is located at 2355 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. For more information, visit their Facebook page above and

More in News

See More