Best Of :: Bars & Clubs
You knew this space better as Alex's Tavern, a canker sore of a bar with air so foul it would send your clothes home smelling like a tire fire. Fortunately, as the recommissioned Mental Ward, much of the old charm remains. But it's better. The Tuesday open-mic night is the kind of low-key, good-naturedly offensive affair that can make the small back bar feel like a dormitory hallway. (Sample lyric from a song called "I'm Gonna Whoop Your Ass": "Stop calling my mama's house in the middle of the night. That ain't cool. I have to pay the phone bill over there.") If you want to get schnockered, five bucks will get you all the tap beer you can drink that night. Wednesdays are beer pong nights. Thursday nights are dollar shots, drafts, and well drinks. How this place makes money, who knows? Who cares? All that matters is it's about a two-minute cab ride from Lester's Diner or Taco Bell, and you still have some dough in your pocket for a gordita.
Yeah, it's known to attract monstrous, man-eating sharks, but that's only in New England. In the movies. In real-life South Florida, nothing is more randy than a few brews on a blanket under the stars and a communal dip in the buff. The important things to remember here: 1. Watch your clothes. Those teenagers smoking a joint up the beach are gonna think it's hilarious when you're wet and shriveled and can't find your skivvies. (The fact is, they're right.) 2. Watch for police. Certain beaches -- and we're not gonna reveal which ones for, um, liability's sake -- attract the fuzz more than others. Public nudity is illegal in Florida, but more than that, cops just hate to see you having fun. 3. If there's a meter in the parking lot, feed it. There's no bigger turnoff than getting back to the car with a good buzz, a libido in full throttle, and a ticket under the wiper. And 4. A full moon is very bright. And we mean that in more ways than one.
Michael Kostick gets a little carried away when he talks about his favorite nightspot, Café 27, on U.S. 27, across from Everglades Holiday Park, out where Griffin Road meets the wilderness. It's bike night there on Fridays, when the motorcycling dudes crowd into a series of chickee huts and wet bars and the beer flows like water. If you're lucky, one of the motorcycle clubs will be holding a party there and Kostick, who goes by "Nasty" with his friends, will be in charge of the pudding wrestling, with wenches in bathing suits writhing in mounds of mushy stuff. Last time that happened, Nasty says, it was phenomenal. "My God, it was the best condiment wrestling I've seen in years," he says. Nasty, who in his day job is vice president for sales and marketing of a manufacturing company (they make air purification apparatuses for firefighters), is well-known in biking circles as a longstanding writer for the monthly Wheels on the Road. Maybe Café 27 isn't for everybody, Nasty says, but it actually draws a diverse crowd -- "from open-road truckers to Everglades hunters to hard-riding bikers." If you can't get into the scene, get into the great people-watching.
As soon as we rule the world, we'll raze all the condos and build a string of tiki bars right on the beach so that you can spend happy hour properly... barhopping along the sand. Until then, the best place to de-stress after work is right in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Despite its urban location, Tarpon Bend creates a laid-back, outdoorsy vibe by displaying fish sculptures and world records from the International Game Fish Association. Furthermore, it has sidewalk seating, giant windows, and a second-story loft that gives it a wide-open feel. We're not the only ones who love it; happy hour -- especially on Fridays -- gets slammed. The "hour" lasts from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 4 to 9 on Friday, and 6 to 9 on Sunday, and it includes two-for-one drinks on everything except shots and pitchers. Live bands play every night, and promotions like the Miss Hawaiian Tropic Contest attract a fun, young crowd. A waitress named Megan has three additional explanations for the bar and grill's allure: one, "You get the best service you ever had in your life." Two, "Every server has a great personality." And three, "We're all hot." Just in case happy hour leads into happy night, there are 20 other bars within hopping distance.
Crabby Jack's has made a name for itself with the FAU college crowd for good reason. While most students are late-night partyers, this seafood joint knows the importance of a good pregame technique. Not many folks spend the entire night at Crabby Jack's -- but that's what happy hour is all about. You get in, you get bent, you get out. What better way to tie one on than 69-cent Miller Lites? Don't like Miller? Choose any domestic draft for 99 cents. But seriously, you're here to get a job done -- why spend the extra 30 cents?
Eleven-thirty on a Thursday night may be sheep-counting time for most 9-to-5'ers, but at Delux's weekly indie night, Flaunt, the dance floor's just getting warmed up... and how. The club's plush interior seems to belie the unrestrained activities of the mostly 20-something regulars. You won't find the usual hipster posturing here. But there's no time for that anyway, not when there's free Ketel One vodka (for groups of ten) and well drinks are half-priced before midnight. By that time, though, only the true barflies are still sitting on stools; everyone else is on the dance floor. On any given night, you can hear anything from the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" to Elvis Costello's "High Fidelity" to the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love" and even DJ Assault's "Ass 'n' Titties" (for a little bump-and-grind time). As the 2 a.m. closing time draws near, the sounds often veer into punk-rock territory (the Misfits' "Last Caress," Operation Ivy's "Knowledge"). And when it's time to leave, there's no fear of finding out that your new love interest is underage; Flaunt is strictly 21 and up. So drink, dance, and for Pete's sake, keep it debauched.