There aren’t many dive bars out there that win “Best of” awards, nor do people refer to them as “iconic.” In this case, however, The Green Parrot in Key West, FL is a one-of-a-kind establishment that patrons have been squawking about since 1890.
That year, The Green Parrot was built on the southeast corner of Southard and Whitehead streets, safely across from the courthouse and police station. The owner was Anthony Sanchez, and the business was initially a grocery store. It became a hangout for nefarious types, like rum runners and traders and fishermen looking for a drink and a little Cuban music.
Right after WWII, the Green Parrot became the Brown Derby Bar that eventually catered to sailors until the 1960s when the hippies joined the crowd, as well as bikers, adventurous types and sun chasers. In the 1970s, the new owner Judy Sullivan re-named it The Green Parrot Bar and that’s when it really seemed to hit its stride.
Jim Bean acquired the place in 1983 and ran it like a real dive bar with an emphasis on rowdiness and questionable behavior. The place’s reputation spread throughout Key West and Florida, and pretty soon there were lines out in front of the location. Why did it become such a hit in a spot where there are bars every 50 yards? On their website they said it best, “Maybe it’s the music: real and raw onstage, the people’s choice thumping from the juke box, whirring ceiling fans, the murmur of conversation, the sharp clack of pool balls, brilliant peals of laughter.”
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In 2011 a new owner named John Vagnoni teamed up with Pat Croce (former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers NBA team) to let The Green Parrot fly even higher. They made sure not to turn the place into a formula bar, by doing everything they could to maintain the atmosphere, which has been described as “fun but funky; cool with a hard edge and simply a space to be.”
If you visit The Green Parrot today, you will likely pick up on that vibe almost immediately and if not, have a few specialty drinks and you’ll be there soon. The emphasis is on rum and a wide range of interesting beers. No fancy drinks—I would bet that if you tried to order a Manhattan here, you’d be chastised and labeled as a poser!
Right next to the bar, there is The Green Parrot Package, Goods & Spirits Store so if you want to bring more booze home, they make it very convenient. They also feature a wide range of apparel and assorted items emblazoned with their name, including mugs, key chains and even a glow-in-the-dark pint glass.
The music is top-notch, featuring nationally-known bands such as Drunken Hearts, Flow Tribe, and the Flashtones. They also have fun events going on all of the time, including Monday Bingo and Drink and Draw Tuesdays. Happy Hours are Monday-Thursday 4-7 pm and Fridays 4-5:30 pm (aka “90 Minutes of Pure Bliss”).
The Green Parrot is a must for the next time you hit the Keys. Their motto is “No Snivelling (sic),” which means no whiners allowed. Be real and open-minded. Enjoy this unique dive bar, and soon you will also be squawking about The Green Parrot!
Located in: Key West, Florida
Be sure to try: a cold beer and free popcorn