By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
By Michele Eve Sandberg
By Abel Folgar
By Ashley Zimmerman
You're going to die. But c'mon, have a martini. What better way to celebrate your own withering mortality than by having a lot of expensive drinks and going home with a stranger?
That's pretty much the motto at YOLO (You Only Live Once), a nightclub and restaurant located on Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale. And it turns out that people are going to order a lot more drinks if they keep in mind that eventually they're gonna die. So, on Saturday night, I took a small posse and headed downtown to dwell upon death — in a sexy, alcohol-lathered kind of way.
Ambiance: The place was packed with blond party girls and grizzly potential sugar daddies, all of them milling around the open-air bar and its surrounding patio area. There were nose jobs, strong cologne, fake tans, and more hairpieces than the audition set of a Viagra commercial.
All the sleek outdoor couches and tables were packed; even the crackling fire pit in the middle of the patio was surrounded by sexy couples undressing each other with their eyes.
Fairy lights crawl up surrounding palm trees, and chutes of bamboo outline the perimeter. And despite the mob of club-goers, the place is sparkling clean. This is thanks to the janitors, who sweep up the trash and wear black T-shirts with the words You Only Live Once printed across the chest.
The bar portion of YOLO is essentially a big, open-air lounge, with most of the mingling taking place outside, under a big red awning. The actual bar is situated half outside and half inside. As I muscled my way to a spot at the bar, I accidentally elbowed some blond in the cleavage along the way. It won't be the last time someone's rack falls victim to my need for a drink. At the bar, I stared across at the people sitting in the shadows inside. I could see a Jonas Brother look-alike who was wearing makeup and talking to a crying, dark-haired girl. Trying not to stare at that fun combination of unfolding drama and running mascara, I scanned the inside dining area. It was characterized mostly by its white table-clothed dining tables, dark-brick walls, sexy low lighting, and chic red-and-black color scheme. There also appeared to be some kind of tree-like modern art at the center of the room, a far cry from the kind of bar art I'm used to, otherwise known as neon Budweiser signs.
Bartender: Bartender Jenna kept her platinum blond locks curled into pigtail braids and was eager to tell me that YOLO was always this busy. It's actually usually even busier, she explained. The place has been open since October, and people love the bonfire. Beside me, a bald gentleman with large brown eyes was eager to interject.
"I came here on New Year's Eve, and it's great," Matt said. "I'm from New York, and I own three bars in Manhattan." He paused and took a drink. "Want to see what I just texted my friend?"
He held up his phone with a text message that, in typical text message shorthand, described YOLO as "a mix of Dallas and Arizona" and way better than anything back home. I said it seemed nice, but I wasn't jumping on the YOLO bandwagon before testing the liquor.
Drinks: I picked up a Dirty Blonde martini for my guy friend. My lovely lady friend got a Devil's Hammer cocktail, which is made with Partida tequila, cherry-infused bourbon, agave nectar, mint leaves, orange, and lime — and it has a three-drink limit. I ordered an Apple Burst martini, which was smooth and sweet. YOLO was already growing on me.
Patrons: With one apple martini nestled deep in my gut and another on the way, I left my two friends and approached Ian, who was a big guy with a chinstrap beard and glasses. He was there with Sami, who was dark-complexioned with shoulder-length black hair.
Sami told me that he was in town visiting from Argentina and that the two of them were college classmates. I asked where they went to school.
After a slight pause, Sami answered: "Uh, Yale."
They were clearly good at lying to girls in bars. "What do you guys do?"
"We're entrepreneurs," Ian said.
"Can I ask a question? This place is called You Only Live Once. What would you do if you only had one night to live?"
"I would date as many girls as possible," Ian said thoughtfully.
"You mean you would have sex with as many girls as possible?" I rolled my eyes.
"I didn't say that. You did. You're the dirty one here," Ian said. "And I'm OK with that."
"I would want to leave my legacy," Sami said.
"Is this another roundabout way of saying you just want to have a lot of sex before you die?" I asked.
"No, I would want to find the right one," Sami said.
"Yeah, because you're gonna find your soulmate in one night," I said.
"I could try," he said.
"You know what I hate?" Sami said. "All these beautiful girls with these almost-dead guys."
"Gold diggers," supplied Ian.
"They just want their money," Sami continued. "Don't they know there are young, good-looking men with money too?" He seemed to be talking about himself.
"So go get yourself a gold digger," I said.
"I don't want a gold digger," Sami complained. "I'm a down-to-Earth guy."
"You're a nightlife columnist," Ian said. "Where can we find some down-to-Earth girls?"
"Not here," I said.
Next round: I decided to venture back into the throngs of bloodthirsty bachelors and cackling 40-somethings. I ended up in front of Elise and Dawn, two well-dressed blonds who seemed to be having a great time.
"You ladies having fun tonight?" I asked.
"Yeah, I love this place," Dawn said. "Good atmosphere. Did you know it stands for 'You Only Live Once'?"
"I didn't know that," Elise said. She reminded me of her name by saying "a mortgage, a loan, Elise."
"It's on the sign," Dawn said.
"Well, what if you had only one night to live?" I asked.
"I sure wouldn't be here," Dawn said.
"I'd probably waste the whole night thinking," Elise said. Still more productive than wasting a whole night drinking, I thought.
Fire pit: Drink number three, this one a grape vodka martini, and they were still going down smoothly. I bantered with a drunk psychologist and heard a blond shout out a universal complaint: "I looked so much better earlier this evening!"
As the crowd was thinning out, I caught sight of an attractive couple near the fire. Blond Britney pointed out tipsily that her name is spelled the same way as the singer's, and Liston was slender and seemed intelligent, although I was drunk. When I asked what they were doing at YOLO, they said, almost in unison: "Third date."
"How's it going?" I asked.
"Very well," Liston said.
"Oh, you think so. But does she think so?" I nodded at Britney, who flashed me a knock-your-socks-off smile.
"All right, guys, here's my question of the evening," I paused for dramatic effect. "What would you do with one night to live? Besides sex."
"I'd have fast sex first," Britney said.
"I can't help you with 'fast' sex," Liston quipped. Then: "I'd spend time with my family."
"I'd do other things too," Britney said. Then after a pause: "What would you do?"
"Uh... I don't know," I said.
Honestly, I had no idea. Here I was asking people that very question all night, and the only thing I could come up with is that I didn't need another martini. I milled back over to my friends and got the check, which was way too fucking much. As a little bit of the alcohol wore off, I considered: If I had only one night to live, I would like to think it would end at a place with Bud signs in the window. But I won't say I wouldn't run up a bar tab at YOLO somewhere in the middle. Jason Crosby