Whiskey Lou’s Lounge in Orlando’s Milk District pre-dates the naming of the area as the Milk District, a dive bar institution since 1969 that feels more like a dive bar complex than a simple bar. That aura comes from the extensive neon out front, where dueling signs tower over Bumby Avenue, both fairly huge in stature and burning mixes of red neon on black backgrounds. A large bank of opaque glass blocks allows a bit of the neon inside to glow streetside, creating a dive bar carnival-like appeal to the space.
Inside, Whiskey Lou’s Lounge is lined almost completely in nicely faded wood paneling, creating that classic dive bar feel with a tile floor under foot and a drop ceiling that drops even a little bit lower above the bar. The building looks sizable from the street and the space inside matches that expectation, a large space dedicated to a central bar and another broad room home to the bar’s pool tables. The signature decorations here are the life size statues of Elvis and the Blues Brothers, Santa sometimes joining the group when appropriate.
The cash-only Orland dive bar was one of the last smoking-allowed holdouts in the city, ultimately choosing to go smoke-free in 2001, a big benefit for those that might have been attracted to the atmosphere but dismayed by the historically thick cloud of smoke. Recent renovations have included an expanded patio to pair with a new co-tenant in the form of Itsa Chicken, a fried chicken sandwich restaurant that now anchors one corner of the building.