OK, this is my story about the Flora-Bama and I am sticking to
it. The first time I visited the
Flora-Bama was kinda by accident.
I have heard about the gulf coast "Red Neck French Rivera" and the
club for years, but had never made an attempt to check it out. As
fate would have it, we spent the weekend in Fort Walton Beach and
were returning to Mobile via the lower scenic coastal route. As
we crossed the Florida-Alabama state line, there it was in all its glory.
This was a few years before the hurricanes nearly destroyed it and it was in full operation. It was pretty much everything I had expected. We have returned a few times after the devastating hurricanes and it looks like they are making great strives to rebuild.
The Flora-Bama Lounge and Package (aka The Flora-Bama), located on Perdido Key right at the Alabama / Florida state line, is a beachside oyster bar, beach bar, and Gulf Coast cultural landmark, touted as being America's "Last Great Roadhouse". The Flora-Bama takes its name from its location on the Florida - Alabama border line. The bar is in fact located all within Florida, with the Alabama line being about six feet from the western outside wall. Contrary to what some might describe it as, it is not a nightclub. It is a beach bar.
The Flora-Bama was originally constructed in 1964, two years after the road connecting Orange Beach, AL with Perdido Key, FL was completed. In the early days of the Flora-Bama, the lounge was practically the only thing in the area. As traffic began to increase along the new highway, business grew and the lounge grew to match it with new construction added piecemeal to accommodate the larger crowds.
Widely known as a place where "you can have a millionaire sitting next to a biker," this unique make-up of bar patrons is one of the contributing factors to its large appeal and attraction. Locals mingle with tourists rather easily and on large holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, cars line the highway for miles in both directions as the bar draws such a large crowd.
The Flora-Bama first gained national attention when former Oakland Raiders quarterback and NFL MVP Kenny Stabler referred to the Flora-Bama as "the best watering hole in the country."
The establishment is referred to by locals as simply "the Bama" or "Pumptown" and before its partial destruction by Hurricane Ivan, it boasted in the range of 20 bars on the grounds. In addition, up to 4 live bands could be playing simultaneously providing a wide array of music for visitors to enjoy. The bar is primarily outdoors and formerly offered a huge deck where one can eat and drink while having a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico before its destruction by Hurricane Ivan.
The Bama serves a local favorite known as the "Bushwacker." For the tourists visiting the area, the drink is a frozen concoction that has a coffee -esque taste and can be found at many bars around the area. The bama is famous for being the last stop on the "Bushwacker Tour" where groups of friends set out in boats and start at Tacky Jack's Bar, on to Calypso's, down to Pirate's Cove, and on the bama to finish up. At each stop, a bushwacker is consumed by a member of the boating party until the boat reaches the Bama where everyone disembarks and parties at the bar.
In September 2004, Hurricane Ivan scored a direct hit on the Flora-Bama, causing catastrophic damage. The main building at the entrance was destroyed, and most of the other sections of the bar were either destroyed or heavily damaged. The Flora-Bama shut down for the better part of a year while rebuilding efforts commenced.
The original Top Deck survived the storm in fairly good condition, and the Stair Bar area below, though full of sand, was also more or less intact. The stairs leading from from the Deck Bar to the Top Deck survived, but the main stage area near the Deck Bar lost its roof. It has since been replaced with a tent-like canopy. The main building has yet to be rebuilt, but many of the old amenities have nevertheless been replaced.
Despite being closed for many months while repairing and rebuilding, the Flora-Bama's crowd swarmed right back to the bar as soon as it reopened its doors. There is live music to be had every day of the week, with usually at least five bands playing on Saturdays. It is still a spot likely to attract celebrity visitors.
The Flora-Bama Lounge is host to a number of annual and one-time local events. Perhaps most famous of these festivities is the Annual Interstate Mullet Toss, an event where individuals compete on the beach throwing a mullet from a 10 foot circle in Florida across the state line into Alabama. Not only is the Mullet Toss a great excuse to throw a weekend long party, but contributions are made to local charities, mostly to youth organizations.
Winning throws approach distances in excess of 150 feet and the event is always held in the last full weekend of April. Additional events include the "Polar Bear Dip," the "Mullet Man Triathlon," and the "Super Bowl Chili Cook-off."
...and that is all I am going to say about that!
Flora - Bama Lounge
AL Hightway 292 / FL Highway 182
Alabama - Florida State Line