Our History

Nearly a century of serving locals and tourists alike at the west end of Bridge Street on Anna Maria Island, Florida.


The First Drifters

The first permanent settler on the island was George Emerson Bean, who built his 1893 homestead on the northern tip of the island in the area that now bears his name. (Bean Point). In 1921, the first bridge was constructed from the Village of Cortez to what is now Bridge Street on the Island. Before this time visitors got to the island by boat or as legend has it, by raft, riding the current and "DRIFTING" to paradise. Bridge Street became the center of the bustling island community. On the east end of the street a tiny watering hole was established in 1925 as a place to grab a cold drink and share fish tales. The community was known as Cortez Beach and in the late 20's the editor of the Bradenton Herald began calling the city Bradenton Beach. Of course, the name stuck. The city of Bradenton Beach was incorporated in 1952 and in 1967 the new draw bridge was opened to 5th Street North. The island side of the old wooden bridge was saved and turned into a fishing pier, which still stands today.

Late 1930's

The Babe is King

Baseball slugger George Herman Ruth Jr., aka Babe Ruth, goes from patron to owner at the Drift-In on Anna Maria Island. As the legend goes, Babe, an owner of many properties on Anna Maria Island and more specifically Bradenton Beach loved the frequent the local watering hole. On a sultry summer night Babe and friends danced the night away only to leave without paying the "tab". The following day Ole' Babe showed back up to clear things up only to be confronted by the owner of the Drift. After a few cheers, an agreement was made and the keys were handed over. Babe owned the bar for a few years as an homage to his father, George Sr. a bar owner himself.

1940's - 1990's

The Mack & Sherick Families

Time flies by while three generations of the Mack & Sherick families owned and operated Drift In. Serving two locations, one on Bridge Street and the other Cortez Road in Bradenton. The Cortez location, originally named, Sip N' Serve, was added to the Drift-In family of companies in 1944. It wasn't until the mid 1990's when management and then ownership changed. Ed and June hired then liquor distributor Jose Cuervo to manage and then ultimately purchase the businesses.

The infamous Jose Cuervo and Angie "Ring the Bell" Cuervo
GM Doreen and great friend Dort from Pines Trailer Park
The Drift-In AMI's famous "Mannie"
1995 - 2022

The Jose Cuervo Era

Joe and Angie Cuervo purchased the Drift In businesses in 1995 while Joe took over the day to day management. Jose, a tequila aficionado, brought many new ideas to the bar from card games, to jello shots, from karaoke, to collectors t-shirts and everyone loves the VIP Parties. As owner operator, one of Joe's best decisions was hiring General Manager Doreen Flynn for the Bridge Street location in 1999. To this day Doreen is known as the Queen of AMI and is one of the kindest souls you will ever meet. Doreen brought Mani the Mascot to the Drift who gets a new outfit almost daily. When you are in for a cold one you'll know she's serious when you hear that "clap clap" to get your attention!

2023 - Present

The Williams Way - 100 Years of Drifting In!

On December 15th, 2022 Derek and Helena Williams purchased "The Drift" on the island immediately updating the name to Drift-In AMI. Purchasing the business from Helena's parents, the Williams' wanted to keep an old island trademark alive. Both with professional careers, they immediately hired new GM Dan Zelko to work alongside long time manager Doreen Flynn. With many updates already taken place in year one, the future is bright for Drifters around the World!

Owners - Derek & Helena Williams
Three Ds
Derek, Doreen, and Dan - The 3 D's