There is no denying, we live in the South. Summer temperatures can reach 100 degrees and the humidity can make the world a hazy mess with air thick enough to taste. When it gets too overbearing, nothing beats a cool pool and an icy drink. How many times have you been sitting in your car, at a stand-still in tourist traffic in the last few months and yearned to be floating around in a pool with a daiquiri straw hanging out of your mouth? It feels unbearably out of reach.
Here on the Grand Strand, during the productive season of our vacation destination, the locals get pushed aside and trodden on, for the sake of summer revenue. Where is our relief from the unforgiving, burning orb above our heads?
Our area bars, hotels and resorts realize the plight of us, the locals. Hey, they’re locals too. These establishments have begun to invite us to discover their poolside parties and festivities. But where and when, you ask?
Team Surge hit the smoldering blacktop to search out some places where you can beat the heat – be it a swim-up pool bar where you can get your single-on or a laidback place to enjoy a frozen drink and vicariously soak-up an afternoon vacation or a restaurant where you can take a dip in a pool between dinner and dessert. We give you, the loyal locals, directions and fodder for plan-making on how to get in on delicious drinks, delectable eats, Hawaiian shows, magicians and so much more.
Splash along with us as we work our way from the south of the Strand to the north, making a list of some happening places for you toswim on up and drink on down.
Mako’s Oceanfront Bar & Grill , 2101 S. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach
Bar Manager Kait Nizolak is in her third year with Mako’s. She says, “I live like 45 minutes away. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love it.” Everyone is laughing, including the employees. When a waitress is finished with her shift, she gives hugs before she leaves. There doesn’t seem to be much pretense.
The deck on the bar overlooks the pool and the beach. The bar is out on the deck and there are plenty of seats and tables, inside and out. They even have a middle tier between the bar and the pool with a couple rows of picnic tables.
But the bell of the bar is Mako’s Fishbowl. The Fishbowl is equal to three drinks and costs $20 the first time. But keep the bowl, bring it back and fill it up anytime for $10. When we ask what the most popular fish bowl filler is, Nizolak responds, “The Walk the Plank but probably because it’s on top of the menu. People usually work their way down.”
There’s also a two-pound Jaws Burger which is topped with fries, bacon, chili, a fried egg, onion, lettuce, tomato, jalapenos, American, Swiss, cheddar and nacho cheese. The burger will cost you $25 but you get a free T-shirt for merely trying to eat it and if you get it all down in a half-hour, it’s free. They’ve only had four people finish it. Nizolak says, “Most people give up way before the half-hour, but we make five or six a week.”
Mako’s is privately owned and operated, but in partnership with The Reef Resort, they open their pools and entertainment to all locals coming to enjoy the bar and grill. Nizolak says, “We get locals. We get the guests of this hotel and other hotels too. Sometimes they’ll hear the music from the deejay and come up from the beach.”
Tipsy Turtle at Landmark Resort, 1501 S. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach
It is a definite hotel crowd but they accept all comers. The Director of Marketing for Vacation Myrtle Beach, Matt Klugman describes the Tipsy Turtle as, “a laid back spot for parents to have a drink by the pool while the kids are playing or for younger adult groups to have a good time relaxing by the beach.”
The bar also offers a nice selection of smaller frozen and iced drinks, including daiquiris, specialty lemonades, island margaritas and coladas. These drinks are $7 for iced and $7.50 for frozen.
Mixx at Hotel Blue - 705 S. Ocean Blvd Myrtle Beach
We found that to be true. The crowd is littered with young, beautiful girls and buff guys doing shots, flirting in the pools. But there’s also a significant sect of the over-40 set, enjoying the pools with drinks in their hands. The chairs are the shallow lip of the pool, filled with a diorama of different ages of both genders. There are a few families playing in the pools but it doesn’t hamper the party. Everyone seems to be having a great time, including the balconies filled with gentlemen spectators.
For you high-rollers looking to impress or throw a private party, Mixx offers VIP Cabanas starting at $300. This includes two bottles of liquor. For $400, you can get a VIP Cabana with two premium bottles of booze, such as Grey Goose Vodka or Patron Tequila.
Ailsa’s Pub, 1500 Legends Rd., Myrtle Beach (off U.S. 501)
Tricia Jordon, Pub Manager, and Trey Bell, Executive Chef, took time to show us around. There’s a festive and fun nature floating around the place. Jordan says, “It’s all wide open. We’re up for providing anything for our customers within the structure of the law.”
The pub does run a 4-7 p.m. Happy Hour with $2 domestic beers, including Yuengling, and $3 well liquors. Bell has also been known to experiment with blending shots with various desserts.
The menu is a balanced affair of starters for $8 to $18, sandwiches for $10 to $13 and Pub Plates for $13 to $20. There are a few “Market Prices” on the menu. Bell and Jordan both agree Crab Cakes ($12) are a standout on the starters and the Pork Osso Bucco ($20) is a stellar entrée.
Like with the shots, Bell gets creative with his desserts. He makes homemade ice cream early and when it’s gone it’s gone. His most popular flavor so far has been Double Chocolate Bourbon topped with Bailey’s whip cream and Lover’s Knots made from frying raw pastry into a sweet knot covered in cinnamon – a bowl cost $3.
Bell, who took over as the Executive Chef about two months ago, explains his philosophy of experimentation, “We have enough rope to play around with and we haven’t been tugged back yet.”
Ocean Annie’s, 9550 Shore Drive, Myrtle Beach.
The crowd? Don’t worry if you don’t have a gym-ready bodyyou’ll find all kinds and all types of bodies sporting everything from bikinis to muumuus crowded onto Annie’s deck. The crowd tends to be slightly older – late ‘20s and early ‘30s on up, with plenty of frisky shaggers running around in season. College students are in the mix too, but that’s not the signature draw. The people watching on a recent Saturday was remarkableespecially fun is watching people try to dance to the live band after a few pitchers of margaritas in the hot sun. This summer, Dawn and the Southside Band and Roadside Assistance are the featured acts, both offer up a good selection of old and new hits. Roadside Assistance throws a lot of new country into the mix.
Breeze’s Beach Bar at Beach Cove Resort, 4800 South Ocean Blvd., North Myrtle Beach.
Fishtails Beach Bar at Bay Watch Resort, 2701 S. Ocean Boulevard, North Myrtle Beach.
St. Clements Beach Bar and Grill, 202 70th Avenue North oceanfront, Myrtle Beach.