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Strong Water Tavern

Strong Water Tavern is a favorite local hangout at the Universal Orlando Resort.  It is a rum-focused bar with Caribbean-inspired tapas located at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.  

Per Universal's Website, "A wall of vintage rums, your own rum specialist, a ceviche bar and a patio overlooking the lagoon combine to make Strong Water Tavern an exceptionally cool and stylish watering hole. Featuring tapas style dining options with rum tastings, this is a true destination lounge in the heart of an island jewel."

The atmosphere is laid back with a standard bar area, several community tables and traditional restaurant tables as well.  There are TVs behind the bar and sometimes there is live music playing. This is a great place to congregate with friends or family and try a few things!

I've been here several times now and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to clients or friends.  It is my go-to now at Universal Orlando Resort as it seems to have something to please everyone. The service has been fantastic every time and I keep trying new drinks and tapas and go "wow" each time. 

Let's start with the cocktails; you can order a variety of rum-based craft drinks with house made juices, a rum flight, or there are beers on tap and wine available as well.  The bar staff is knowledgeable and will help you pick something to suit your tastes if the menu is a little overwhelming.

The cocktails are divided into a few sections, the first is Revivers:

Tavern Grog - Plantation Original Dark Rum, Pimento Dram, Demerara, Citrus
Daquiri - Diplomático Planas Rum - Shake Not Frozen. Classic (also comes in Hemingway, Blackberry or Breakfast)
Witch Doctor - Rhum JM Blanc Rum, Pinot Noir, Smoked Apple Syrup, Passion Fruit
Sea Shanty - SelvaRey White, House Lemonade with Chamomile Tea, Citrus, Orange Bitters
For the bravest, there are Potents - stronger classics. 
Mai Tai - Hamilton Reserve and El Dorado 5 yr, Orgeat, Lime       
The menu also includes Tots, house infused rum shots and backs, and Punches, big batch cocktails that serve four to six, but we didn't try any of these. 

Finally, you can design a rum flight to try rum in its purest form.  The bartender working when I was there, Lenny, was great to design three tastes that he thought I would like based on my preferences - and he was so right!  All three of the rums he picked for me were just wonderful.
With all this rum, we of course had to try some of the tapas!  The food menu has a few small plates from various regions.  The empanadas were the chef's grandma's recipe so of course I had to give those a try (and wow, they were amazing!) We also tried a few other things and honestly everything was so good, I wouldn't hesitate to have these again or go back and try more!
Ropa Vieja - Shredded beef, garlic, onions, peppers, sofrito sauce. (Little Havana)
Beefsteak Empanadas - Onions, carrots and potatoes, spicy green garlic sauce. (Columbia)
Vegan Breadfruit Tostadas - Sautéed mushrooms, avocado purée, red pepper sofrito, vegan “chicharron.” (Puerto Rico)
While we loved all we tried and were full up, we were also informed the Vegan Hot Pot and Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders are great choices as well. With the delicious vegan tostadas and recommendations for the Vegan Hot Pot, this is a great spot for vegan and vegetarian guests to get something a bit more interesting for dinner.

On another visit the bar was pretty quiet, and we had Lenny as a bartender once again.  Since he wasn't too busy, he made up cocktails for us that really hit the spot.  You can see him spritzing absinth on one which was great attention to detail.  He also came up with a fun mocktail for me.  Since they have so many fresh juices and infusions, this was more than just a juice punch as it had hints of thyme and basil to really elevate the flavors.
Custom Cocktail
Spritz of absinth
Mocktail
We wanted to have some late night bites after checking out the Mardi Gras parade, so we ordered two tapas to share.  We were torn between a few and one of the bartenders mentioned we had all great choices but should consider the lamb, so we did!  They completely hit the spot once again. There's just something about the food here that feels special.  The flavors are so well composed and everything comes out hot and fresh. The flavors are familiar yet unique to help go outside your comfort zone.
Guava-Rum BBQ Pork - Smoked pork shoulder, tostones, garlic-habanero pepper mojo.
Lamb Papa Rellena - Spiced ground lamb meat, sweet potato, smoked tomato sauce, yogurt-mint coulis.

If you are staying at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort or Aventura (a very short walk over), I would certainly recommend a stop here.  Even if you aren't, I think everything was so delightful I'd even go out of my way to go back!

*Updated February 2023


Maci is an avid foodie and loves trying out new restaurants and seasonal food offerings in the parks.  You can email Maci at maci@kingdomkonsultant.com.

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