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John, the blue-eyed general manager, brought me a half-pot of kiwi-pear white tea and gave me the 411: The Funky Buddha is about to become Boca's biggest microbrewery; they're working on becoming a music-focused venue; open-mic nights have been benefiting charity for four years now.
"Who's the Funky Buddha?" I asked.
"That's open to interpretation," John said. "He can be whatever you imagine him as."
2449 Wilton Drive
Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Category: Bars and Clubs
Region: Wilton Manors
Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery, 2621 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Call 561-368-4643, or click here.
Antea, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, 1881 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 888-554-2131.
"He's Buddha's cooler, laid-back, stoner brother," I said.
"If that's how you see him," John said.
"What flavor hookah should we have?" interjected Beard, who was perusing the extensive list of hookah flavors (everything from sex on the beach to cappuccino to licorice).
A few minutes later, John was bringing over a hookah full of Hawaiian Dreams, his recommended flavor, and Beard was guzzling a Chimay ale.
The open-mic host — broad, with a booming voice — beat-boxed for a few minutes before calling a pair of musicians up to the stage.
The duo — a vocalist with bushy brown hair and tight jeans, a guitarist with shaggy black hair and stunning jaw lines — seemed uncomfortable at first. But then the singer — who was 16, by the way — let loose with his high, clean vocals and stunned the buzzing audience, which suddenly became slack-jawed and silent.
When their original song ended, the duo followed it with an acoustic version of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." It was emotional, moving, and beautiful — basically everything Lady Gaga's version isn't.
I took a long drag on the hookah, spat out a stream of billowing smoke, and charged over to the pair as they left the stage.
Guitarist Eric had discovered Brett — who sweetly hugged me when I complimented his singing voice — only a few weeks ago.
"Can you believe this kid isn't famous yet?" Eric said after Brett went outside to wait for his father. "Since we've met, we've been cranking out songs by the dozens."
"That's incredible," I said. "Kid seems nice too."
"He's a little insecure," Eric admitted. "If I had his amazing voice? I'd be like, 'What, bitches!' But he'll learn."
Next up was a string of decently funny comics; basically, they used two topics: masturbation and weed. (One comic mentioned feeding a dog chocolate, but he lost the audience's attention so fast that he laid down on the stage for his remaining five minutes. Awkward.)
"Hi, my name's Matt," one bearded, long-haired comic said. "I like smoking pot and watching ethnically diverse people fuck on the internet." Cheers and laughter ensued.
"Who likes smoking pot?" he asked.
The truth about the Buddha: It's where a shitload of different people — stoners, college kids, goths, and even a quartet of high-heel-wearing, supermodel-hot chicks — all get together, chill, blow fruity smoke rings, and laugh at semen jokes.
Antea: Antea is a brand-spankin'-new bar in the Fort Lauderdale Beach Hilton Hotel that serves sexy drinks, is perpetually packed, and has somehow managed to commandeer the entire hotel lobby and turn it into a happenin' nightspot. Antea is so new, it borrows its drink menu from the outdoor patio bar, but it's got all the liquor and fast-paced bartenders it needs to make anything your little lush heart desires. Let's just say this: My pungent, blood-red hurricane (made with Bacardi, gin, amaretto, grenadine, orange juice, pineapple juice, and grapefruit juice) put me on an alcohol-soaked cloud nine.
I had to wait in a line three people deep just to talk to Lisbeth, the dark-haired bartender. She entertained my questions over the sterile steel counter, aware of the swarming masses of beverage seekers. "We are always this busy," she said as though I were an idiot. "We're in season right now — this hotel is packed with people going and coming on cruises."
"What about your drink menu?" I asked.
"We're working on developing a specific menu for Antea," she said. "Whereas the patio bar specializes more in cocktails — like the hurricane, island driver, Hilton punch, and various kinds of mojito — we're going to specialize more in martinis."
I'd settled down with my hurricane on one of the lobby's classy couches and was imbibing near a well-dressed man with sharp blue eyes and a long-legged bottle blond in a short, spotted dress. She had her legs crossed and kept glancing at her phone. Although they were both sucking down drinks at an alarming rate, she seemed rather surly. I overheard him tell her he was working on a "big case" and then ask what kind of men she liked.
"Good ones," she said curtly.
The thing that makes this such a euphoric place to be is not the white, plushy couches, immaculate counters, expansive chandeliers or charming bookshelves boasting tomes with names like Guide to Freshwater Fishing — it's that celebratory vacation vibe. It's the crackling of different languages and accents and being among the vacationing elite in all their sun-tanned glory with nothing on their agenda except ordering another round of drinks.
Back on the couch, Ol' Blue Eyes was cracking jokes and had offered his blond acquaintance a sip of his rum (a gentleman's drink, he said). She humored him and took a drink. A quick glance in their direction revealed that she was smiling slightly.