The Green Parrot Key West. "No Snivelling" is their motto, and I highly recommend that you go in and find out why.
I don't know what hasn't already been said about the Green Parrot Key West. Boisterous. Eclectic. Historic.
When I wrote about Margaritaville Key West (see my Tourist MANDATORY page), I said something to the effect that I don't know too many locals that have actually been inside the joint. With the Green Parrot, I don't know too many locals that haven't. Out of all of the bars in Key West, the Green Parrot is arguably is most beloved. Ask a local "Hey, where's a good bar to go to?", and chance are they'll tell you Green Parrot Key West.
Now, THEY will tell you that it's been around since 1890, but that isn't true. The building has been around since 1890, the bar was started around the beginning of World War II. Started as a grocery store by a guy named Anthony Sanchez, it catered primarily to Cuban and Bahamian transplants whose descendants still make up a large percentage of the local population (Sanchez's Grandson Mario, incidentally, became a world-renowned woodcut folk artist, and his work can be seen throughout the city).
So who the hell is this "Smirk" Dude? Go see for yourself. Definitely go see.
The Brown Derby
Somewhere between the Great Depression ending and World War II beginning was the start of the Brown Derby. It was air-conditioned, and in the 1930's and 40's that in and of itself was a reason to go. It was crazy popular with the navy, whose submarine base was barely a block away, and I'm sure the MPs were called in on many an occasion. When the sub base pulled out in the early 70's (The Navy and Coast Guard still has a presence in Key West), the Hippies, Bikers, and people not looking to make their presence "known" took over, and that is when a lady by the name of Judy Sullivan turned the place into a dive called the Green Parrot.
So now you have what must have been an interesting mix of Sailors, Hippies, and GOD knows who else frequenting the joint, and here comes the next boom to hit Key West FL (after wrecking and cigar manufacturing), the discovery of Key West Pink Shrimp. The Green Parrot turns into a honky-tonk hellhole, rife with cash-laden, drug smuggling, shifty-eyed bastards who were no more "Fisherman" than I am a "Journalist".
My kind of joint. At least, when I was younger.
A guy by the name of Jim Bean and his wife Linda bought the place in 1983, on his birthday, and their timing could not have been better as tourism was taking off. Cruise Ships were starting to come in, and the highway down from the mainland was being widened to accommodate the ever-growing amounts of traffic. For almost the next 30 years, the Bean's rowdy little corner bar gained a reputation for kick-ass music, which to this day is well deserved.
Now owned by former Philadelphia 76ers Co-Owner Pat Croce, Green Parrot Key West hasn't changed much over the years. It's open-air now, and that's a good thing, as it can no longer accommodate the crowds of people who come to hear the music.
And Man, do they come.
The Green Parrot has a reputation to uphold as far as music is concerned, and I think that's why the locals love it so much. You'll hear some of the best regional band there, and the genres run the gamut from Afro-Cuban Funk, to eclectic Folk, to sultry Blues, to just plain old bad-ass cover bands. The bands sometimes do a "sound-check" during the weekday, so that's the time to go if you're not into crowds, and if there happens to not be a band when you go, not to worry--the jukebox is considered one of the best on the island. If you happen to go on a weekend night, be prepared to stand outside with the rest of the overflow crowd, and since it's now an open-air bar, you'll hear the music just fine. Be sure to check my Key West Bands page for more info on whose playing there, as well as at other venues in town.
The Green Parrot Key West is open daily from 10am to 4am, with Happy Hour from 4-7pm. They don't have food, but Charlie Mac's Restaurant is located next door.
Remember to tell them "Freshwater Dave sent us!"
And please, always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS leave a comment, good or bad, with me. How else am I gonna know if I'm wrong about something, or if things have changed? Hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, or on my contact me page.
The Green Parrot Key West. Respected by Locals, and YOU, if you go.
The Green Parrot Bar, 601 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-6133 www.greenparrot.com