During our recent visit to Key West, I had the opportunity to visit a lot of the bars in the area and let me tell you, there are a lot of bars in Key West. Duval Street is blanketed with them, especially the northern end, so picking a favorite bar is nearly impossible. Ask ten different people what their favorite bar is in Key West and you’ll probably get ten different answers. For me, it was easy … as long as I didn’t include any of the waterfront bars because that would have been plain unfair to their landlocked brethren. Sit me down at a bar on the water and you could serve me horse urine over ice and it would still be my favorite bar. For those reasons, locales such as Southernmost Café and Sunset Pier were excluded from consideration. Otherwise, they would have been near the top and dominating the conversation.
When it came down to picking my favorite Key West bar, it came down to “feel” for me. Did it feel like a beach bar, with a laid back vibe and friendly locals adroitly mixing with the out of towners? Did it feel like a bar that I could call my home away from home, where I could be myself and fit right in? When I walked out of the bar, did it feel like I was missing it already and would insist on going right back to it on subsequent visits? Out of all the bars I visited, one answered all of those questions without hesitation – Hog’s Breath Saloon. Maybe it was the huge indoor bar that looked like it had been there since Key West’s inception. Maybe it was the outdoor bar that looked like it would be as at home on a beach as it was on Front St. Maybe it was the friendly staff or the grossly overpriced t-shirts that did it. It was probably a combination of all of the above but the one thing that clinched it for me was when we went back (the only bar we visited twice) one afternoon, there was a gentleman performing an acoustic set at the outdoor bar and all the stresses of dealing with the Key West hordes and humidity suddenly melted away and I felt like I could sit there all day and be perfectly content. It was the same feeling I get when I belly up to my favorite beach bars – when the people sitting around you become your best friends and the stories you tell each other mesh with the stories being sung in the background. Hog’s Breath was home for a few wondrous minutes that afternoon and isn’t that all you can really ask from your favorite watering hole?