Review: AbracadaBar at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort

We’ll continue our walk around the Crescent Lake area with a full review of AbracadaBar, the lounge attached to Flying Fish. You can pull up my last review of that signature restaurant dining experience here. Spoiler: it’s among my favorites.

You can also catch my Tratorria al Forno breakfast review, which features Ariel, Eric, Rapunzel, and Flynn, in this post along with a dinner review of the same restaurant here.

I’ll cut to the chase and say that AbracadaBar is probably underwhelming, at least if you’re expecting something akin to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at the Polynesian Village Resort.

The details are subtle.

There are no real gags.

And there really isn’t any magic, either.

This is how Disney describes the bar:

This sets expectations high.

But those expectations should probably be lowered. AbracadaBar’s atmosphere is neat – it’s dimly lit and has a little bit of a mystique about it, but don’t expect a magician to rummage through and like most of Walt Disney World, the only thing disappearing will be your money.

The bar recently added some new food items – the middle three migrate over from Flying Fish next door, but the Thrice Spiced Fries and Fish Bites and Fries are unique to AbracadaBar.

The $11 “Thrice Spiced Fries – Chef’s Spice Blend, Feta Cheese, Sriracha Aioli.”

These were legitimately spicy, which is something I almost never type when discussing anything with “Disney” and “Spice” in the same sentence. And it was a pleasant spice with the creamy aioli eased slightly by the tang of the generous sprinkle of feta. Value-wise, the portion is larger than it probably looks in the picture and the fries are nicely presented in the Jenga-like tower. This is easily large enough for two people to comfortably share at $5.50 per person, but you are still paying eleven bucks for a couple handfuls of defrosted wedges. I would get them again if I ever ordered anything a second time.

I would not recommend the $14 “Fish Bites and Fries – Scratch Tartar Sauce.” These consisted of at least half breading and were over-fried with tough, dry fish inside. The heavy-handed pinch of herbs, which overwhelmed the flavor profile, tasted like they were shaken from one of those spice sets where you get 16 different shakers all with an ounce of herbs and then forget that you have them for three years and just hope for the best. Not that I would know anything about that. It’s also patently obvious that the fries are defrosted here – limp and without flavor. On the plus side, the tartar sauce was delicious – creamy with lemon, herb, and pepper notes. The fish was garbage, but it actually tasted somewhat decent when dipped into the sauce. So there’s that.

You might remember the $13 “Kurobuta Pork Belly – Croquette, Royal Gala Apple Slaw, Bing Cherry Gastique” from the Flying Fish menu. It’s exceptional, though not exactly the sort of thing that you would necessarily enjoy in this environment. It would be like going to an Oakland Athletics afternoon game against the Detroit Tigers and ordering caviar in the outfield reserve section.

If you are serious about your food, but looking for a more casual experience than dining at Flying Fish, then you might consider the bar over there. The classier dishes fit in better with the vibe of the restaurant and the cocktail menu is far superior to what we’re about to see here. If the vibe of AbracadaBar looks neat, consider an after-dinner cocktail.

Here’s what’s offered:

Let’s see how it stacks up.

The $12.50 “Hoodunit’s Punch – Captain Morgan, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, Coconut” is a relatively new addition to the menu. The original version was whiskey-heavy with half of the eight available cocktails built around it. This is a very fruity, very thick cocktail that tastes mostly of pineapple and coconut with virtually no flavor from the rum. There is certainly a market for this sort of drink – it tastes similar to a lot of what Trader Sam’s offers without the cinnamon. I think it makes more sense poolside than it does here.

The $12.50 “Conjurita – El Mayor Tequila, Cointreau, Simple Syrup, Lime Juice.” The pretty purple color is the best part about this average margarita that was a little more syrupy and a little more citrus-y than I typically like. Still, it’s a pretty safe bet if nothing else sounds good.

That’s the $12.50 “Coney Negroni – Eagle Rare Bourbon, Campari, Antica Carpano Sweet Vermouth” on the left. This is a very bitter drink with the heavy pour of Campari that overwhelms the other flavors, in my opinion. I’ll admit that I am not much of a Negroni person, but this one is stiff if you do enjoy the flavor profile.

If you’re looking for a short sip and a slight hallucination, then the $13 “Elixir – Lucid Absinthe, Sugar Cube, Water” in the back right of this picture might be your best choice. This is a pretty decent way to try the licorice-forward spirit with a little bit of heat on the back end. Order a second and the next green fairy you see might not be Tinker Bell. (Not really though.)

The $12.50 “Parlor Trick – Four Roses Bourbon Small Batch, Simple Syrup, splash of Soda Water” is my go-to drink. Heavy on the bourbon, there’s a little bit of syrupy sweetness in there along with some carbonation from the water. Add the cherry and orange slice and you basically have yourself an old fashioned.

The $12.50 “Magic Hattan – Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey and Antica Carpano Sweet Vermouth” is a quality cocktail that marries two high-end ingredients. The vermouth has a pleasant vanilla quality about it that complements the spiciness of the rye in the Hudson. Another strong drink.

That’s the $12.50 “Collin’s Double – Hayman’s Old Tom Gin and House-made Sweet-and-Sour topped with Soda Water” in the middle. A lot of the cocktails we’ve seen so far are virtually pure alcohol, but the Collin’s does a nice job of washing away the flavor of the gin with fresh flavors of lemon and sugar. It would be a particularly good choice if you’re looking for a drink to go or will be sitting outside where there are scenic tables overlooking the BoardWalk and Crescent Lake.

The $12.50 “Pepper’s Ghost – Ciroc Pineapple Vodka and Habanero Lime” is a sweet-and-spicy extravaganza in an itty bitty cup. Another strong drink that’s basically a double shot of vodka mixed with some peppery lime zest.

The $12.50 “Sour Assistant – Breuckelen Distilling 77 Whiskey and House-made Sweet-and-Sour” blends the caramel and toffee flavors of the urban whiskey with the fresh sour flavors from the mix. It is indeed on the sour side of the spectrum – surprisingly so – and may not be to most people’s tastes.

Overall, this is a list of typically unbalanced drinks that are atypically strong for Disney. I like that in places – a couple of Parlor Tricks will get me over to Atlantic Dance Hall only to find that it’s closed – but this is not your typical Disney drink menu of Rum Runners and Long Island Iced Teas. That’s okay, but there is something a little off about the whole experience. It should be whimsical, but it’s really not. There should be some intrigue, but there really isn’t. And because of that, the bar has not really taken off. I’ve stopped by seven or eight times since it opened and there’s typically just a handful of people inside. That’s one of the reasons why I like it, but I think I’ll be frequenting Ale & Compass Lounge more often now that it offers its own powerhouse drink menu, in addition to a lot more food.

But AbracadaBar is a fun stop for a drink; I don’t think you’ll regret it.

And there is a list of wines and beers available:

The drafts do change seasonally and a couple of the options are strong entries. The Funky Buddha Brewery is about three and a half hours away from Epcot and their Sweet Potato Casserole beer comes in at 7.9%, which is higher than Jai Alai. Expect a lot of cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar that helps mask the high alcohol content.

The Kentucky Vanilla Barrel Cream Ale is easier to drink with a ton of vanilla flavor and a cream soda mouthfeel. It’s surprisingly drinkable.

There’s also whiskey flights available:

Prices are moderate – each cocktail has about two ounces of alcohol for the ~$13 price. Here you’re spending about twice that for 1.5x the alcohol. Of course, it’s far from an apple-to-apples comparison when we’re talking about Captain Morgan’s versus Hudson.

It’s a fun little presentation.

And you can find out if your tastes match the official word.

I tried the $22 Unique Flavors Flight with the High West Campfire leading the way. You’ll see the Tap 357 here and there around property – it has a nice, sweet, easy-drinking maple quality about it. You won’t find a lot of whiskey lists without the Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby. The High West Campfire is unique in that it’s actually a blend of straight rye, straight bourbon, and peated Scotch. It’s all kinds of spicy and sweet with some smoke from the Scotchy Scotch Scotch. It’s also a $70 bottle. Yum.

There’s a lot of choices in the Crescent Lake area and AbracadaBar is one of those choices. It’s not “bad” by any stretch of the imagination; I just feel like it squanders so much potential, which may hit too close to home.

I’ll see you there. Probably for just one round though.

Comments

  1. Leslie says

    I feel the same way about this place as I do about Trader Sam’s. They are fun and have potential, but they make me miss the Adventurer’s Club. Both promise entertainment but pale in comparison to what we once had.

  2. judy morgan says

    squanders potential made me sad- you are an excellent writer and your reviews are top notch- your humor and insight would be appreciated by many publications just dont stop doing disney stuff

  3. Turner says

    Love the blog, and have for some time, but I’ve never appreciated a joke more than the caviar at O.Co. Made me laugh out loud.

  4. Debbie says

    The magic Hattan is delish! Hubby and i both enjoyed one before dinner at flying fish last year (highly recommend that restaurant!). We are visiting next week and I can’t wait to try more. Love that it’s cozy and intimate.

  5. Mike D. says

    The Magician “posters” are a nice trick as the featured Magician disappears and reappears from time to time. The staff mention that he or she has stepped out for a moment. We enjoyed a cocktail before dinner at Trattoria al Forno this weekend. Understated, but still a nice addition to the offerings around the lake.

  6. IndyND says

    Kind of surprised they haven’t had a local magician out front to draw people in at night. I suppose it would draw in kids, which probably isn’t the crowd they’re looking for.

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