Float on up to Latitude 41 Bar and Grill6/17/2015
It’s June in Des Moines. That means it’s hot and humid, and that vacation cannot come soon enough. In the meantime, why not make a trip to Saylorville Lake for the day?
Relaxing on the beach, boating with buddies, fishing, water skiing — this is the life. But there’s something missing. There’s a cold beer that needs to be cracked, but it’s all the way back in town, threatening to ruin this staycation.
Don’t fear, though: There’s a place on Saylorville Lake that can quench that thirst without ever leaving the water.
Latitude 41 Bar and Grill is Iowa’s only floating restaurant. Hanging onto the Saylorville Lake Marina by a series of docks, the building floats up and down with the reservoir’s always-changing water levels.
When water levels are low, two walkways are accessible from the bottom level of a tiered parking lot at the marina. At other times, when the water is high, the docks are so far above that the parking lot isn’t even visible under the water, and the restaurant’s only access point is across an extended dock near the boat landing.
If walking on the docks makes you nervous, patrons can always visit by boat instead. Boat parking is all around Latitude 41, and you can rent a seasonal slip from the marina just one dock over.
The bar itself is the best possible version of an outdoor patio bar. Tin roof and all, Latitude 41 has a high slanted ceiling covered in string lamps, plenty of seating under and outside the awning, a great space for live music and dancing, and a bar filled with the friendliest staff around.
The bar, where the magic happens, looks exactly how you might imagine a cabana bar in the movies. Yellow walls and blue poles hold the building up, while blue metal picnic tables line the wooden plank floors behind the tin-sided driftwood bar.
Behind the bar are signs and sayings painted on old metal and wood (“I’d rather be on a boat” and “When life hands you lemons, grab tequila and salt,” for example) and atop the weathered oak mantle sits the bar’s favorite beer cans. Feel free to grab a cold one, but don’t forget to try one of Latitude 41’s delicious, beachy cocktails, too ($3.50 basic well to $8 top shelf Long Island).
Ask the bartenders or regular patrons — of which there are many — what to drink, and they’ll tell you two things: a Pink and Naked or a Rum Runner (both $6). The Pink and Naked has the finest combination of sweet and sour. The bartenders mix dragon berry rum, grape schnapps and lemonade with lemon-lime soda and cranberry. The Rum Runner is a bit stronger, with three Captain Morgan varieties (original, white and coconut) mixed with Meyer’s rum, pineapple, orange juice and grenadine.
Other tasty cocktails include a Red Beard (captain with cherry vodka and cola) and a Grapefruit Ginger (the beach version of a Moscow Mule, minus the copper cup).
For your staycation on Saylorville, Latitude 41 Bar and Grill is the place to be when you don’t want to go back to reality. Escape the city, sip up summer, and feel the lake breeze on your face. CV
Latitude 41 Bar and Grill
Tues. – Wed. 3-11 p.m.
Thurs. – Fri. 11 a.m. – midnight
Sat. 8:30 a.m. – midnight
Sun. 8:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Bri Levandowski is a senior in journalism at Iowa State University. She is writing as part of an internship with Cityview.