Coeds and Cocktails

The best college nights in town.

For those of you who are like me and wish you could remember your college days better but all the alcohol-poisoned brain cells make that next to impossible, several SoFla bars will help you recapture those memories of empty wine coolers, trash-can punch, and walks of shame (and hopefully a degree). On my last venture out, I discovered some of the best local places for college kids (and ex-college kids) to hang out and meet sexy folks.

Kahuna 'Awa Kava Bar: "Ethnobotanists agree, Vanauta is where kava originated from," said the kinky-haired, wide-smiled bartender. "That's what we have here. It's the best."

"Oh, goody, the best mud water," I said.

Jason Crosby

Location Info


Kahuna Awa Kava Bar

123 NE 20th Ave.
Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Deerfield Beach


Kahuna 'Awa Kava Bar, 3104 NE Ninth St., Fort Lauderdale. 954-663-0757; click here.

Tarpon Bend, 200 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale. 954-523-3233; click here.

Crabby Jacks, 1015 S. Federal Highway, Deerfield Beach. 954-429-3770; click here.

"Believe him," one of the regulars said. "He's, like, the PhD of kava."

"Yeah? So what's the effect of the stuff?" I said. "I've had it before and never experienced a buzz."

"Your muscles relax and you achieve a kind of euphoria," the bartender said.

"Relaxed... like with weed?" I asked.

"Um, actually? More like Xanax," he said.

Four-year-old Kahuna 'Awa Kava Bar is an amazing chill spot located right by the beach. Amid a bunch of pounding, throbbing, alcohol-soaked bars in the near vicinity, Kahuna 'Awa was lined with a good pack of people but still managed to be mellow. Regulars crowded around a TV quietly playing the movie 13 while chill, New Age music played blissfully in the background. The bar is small, with various accents atop it — Christmas lights, a Zen fountain, a Mancala board game, and small cups of pineapple. I hopped up to a seat beside a bookshelf crammed with astrology books. Frilly curtains separated the place into two rooms — the bar area and a small, private oasis with a fountain, tapestries, low tables, and cozy couches.

"This place is cool because you don't get the usual drunks," noted Lawrence, a dark-haired, wiry dude. "It's for people who like it a little quieter."

"It's a good college spot because you don't have to be 21 to drink kava," the bartender said. "We get a lot of kids from the Art Institute. They come up here and drink all night. We've been here till, like, 5 in the morning." College night — Thursday night — boasts an all-you-can-drink special for only $15.

That's a pretty good deal if you're into the stuff. Though the color of kava somewhat resembles a watery chocolate milk, it basically tastes like what'd you get on your tongue if you put a straw in the bottom of a murky creek and sucked.

"Another cool thing we do is, at Sunrise Boulevard and A1A, we do a drum circle on Sundays — at sunset," the bartender said. "Then we come back here and drink kava all night."  

"Bula!" said a nearby regular in agreement, raising his half-coconut glass and taking a hearty swig. "Ughhhh." He dragged the back of his hand across his mouth, dropped his cup, popped a piece of pineapple into his mouth (it works like a chaser), and chewed it viciously. "That taste never gets better. But the effects are always nice."

Tarpon Bend: Tarpon Bend is really one of the only acceptable places on Himmarshee to take someone if you're not just trying to get into their pants. They serve food, have a somewhat respectable ambiance, and host fun bar games (there's no ice breaker like a healthy round of beer pong!).

Wednesday nights, though, are the jackpot. On Wednesday, better-known as College Night, the Bend boasts amazing specials — $6 pitchers of beer, $3 Three Olive vodka drinks, $3 tequila shots and margaritas — and if none of those things captures your fancy, there's a huge selection of beer and bubbly; enough fruity martinis to satisfy a slew of sorority girls; and more liquors, liqueurs, and citronges than you could shake a history professor at. We wandered in, grabbed a table near the bar, and took a look around. The place is large, with high ceilings, wooden floors, giant decorative propellers, big fake fish (strung menacingly from the ceiling), booths, and a tiny second-story balcony. The waitress was a bit detached, and the menu was more than a little fishy (not my thing).

"I told my mom I wanted a guy who'd buy me a ring," I overheard a dark-haired girl in eyeliner telling a friend. "She told me to have my dad do it."

"I just want a guy who'll buy me a $3 tequila shot," I said to my friend Beard, batting my eyes.

 Crabby Jacks: Crabby Jacks will give you flashbacks of every debauched frat party you've ever passed out at. You know: girls wearing next to nothing, cheesy tunes ("Rapper's Delight") pumping from the stereo, guys screaming and toasting, the pungent cling of cigarette smoke. The patio area is boardwalk-style, with flashing lights and glowing beer signs; the inside includes a large designated dining room. Glass lights and oversized faux fish hang from the low ceiling. A strawberry-blond, boy-shorts-clad bartender hopped back and forth behind the rectangular bar.

Billed as the home of the 99-cent pint, the place can't really get any better for the destitute college kid.

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