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Best Of 2007

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Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

Best Neighborhood Bar, Central Palm Beach
O'Shea's Irish Pub

The second oldest bar on Clematis Street — younger only than Respectable Street on the same block — is a family-owned pub that has long been a second home to local artists, musicians, and poets. The loyal (and frequently smartass) staff always remember the regulars and often greet people in a brogue straight from the Emerald Isle. Lots of dark wood and quaint pastoral knick-knacks hark back to the Old Sod without being pretentious about it. With honest pints (none of those skimpy 12-ounce posers) and $2.50 Guinness on Mondays, O'Shea's even offers a hangover cure in the form of a delicious Irish sausage hoagie that's even better dipped in the potato and leek soup. And while it's not exactly Irish, there's free barbeque on the spacious back patio (which also hosts periodic indie rock shows) for Friday's happy hour.

531 Clematis St., West Palm Beach, 33401
MAP
561-833-3865
Personal Best

Anyone who's made the gay scene, or just tooled around the offbeat circuit, probably knows about Miss Misty Eyez. She's the MC at just about every charity gala, to-do, or party worth putting your heart into. From her aerosol-sculpted hair to her legendarily generous heart, everything about Miss Eyez is larger than life, and that's how she became known as the fiercest drag queen this side of Vegas. Misty has hosted Trailer Trash Bingo parties, Red Balls, White Parties. "If somebody has enough gumption to ask me, I will always participate."

In the early years, it was solely benefits. But demand grew until, soon, everyone wanted Miss Misty Eyez at their parties. And they started paying her. Now Misty is almost a corporation, and in Fort Lauderdale she is certainly an institution. We wanted to know what it's like to be wanton, large, and in charge.

New Times (on the telephone): Sorry to call you out of the blue, but it sounds like you're somewhere really fun!

Miss Misty Eyez: Actually, yes! I'm at a party!

It's 3:26 in the afternoon on a Tuesday. You're at a party?

Well, it's a pool party, if that makes a difference.

What's the best part about being, er, undercover?

Well, like today, for instance. I'm here at this pool party [in drag] and I could be Misty Eyez. I could be foolish or say something ridiculous. Then tomorrow I could go shopping at Kmart and nobody would recognize me! It's like Clark Kent changing into Wonder Woman. It's great.

Got any secret weapons? Some gadget that you pull out at crucial moments?

Easy. Pump It Up Gold hair spray! I found it by accident, and, I tell you, it changed my life. I sprayed it on the wig and realized, "Ohmigod. My hair's cemented."

Are there any exotic places that you would like your Misty Eyez character to take you? A fabulous beach resort? A city with rickshaws?

(Thinking hard.) Hmmm. Yes! Television! I would love for Misty Eyez to be a host correspondent on E-TV. Or a guest star on Queer As Folk. Or maybe a dead body on CSI.

Best New Bar in Broward
Dirty Blondes

We know, it used to be Blondies on the Beach. And not much other than the 50 upgraded plasmas TVs has changed here at this bar on one of the few historic blocks in Fort Lauderdale. It's back after a months-long closure — not the kind of door-slamming where old management screwed up and you could count on some new guy swaggering in and fixing up the joint. It was the kind of goodbye brought on by progress and developers who don't seem to give a whit about anything other than making the South Florida coastline along the Atlantic look like Boca Raton. And this five-acre strip was no different — at least until negotiations stalled. Partly because those developers are so uncaring and hard-knuckled, thousands more will get a chance to enjoy this old favorite in its new incarnation. Seems the buyout of the entire block — including the hallowed ground of the Elbo Room — got screwed up when not everybody could agree on the details needed to close the deal. At some point in our lifetimes, the entire block will likely still be cleared to make way for condominiums or hotels or mixed-use zoning something whatchamacallit. But in the meantime, pull up a chair out front or a stool at the bar and set your gaze on the ocean that's still right in front of you. This view still costs only the price of a beer. The pushy guys the new owners hired early on (the ones who rudely tried to pull you and your girlfriends out of the Elbo Room for a free shot at Dirty Blondes) aren't there anymore. And don't forget to head back to the game room (it's in the same spot in the back), shoot some pool, give your quarters to the Golden Tee, and drink until 4 a.m.

229 S. Atlantic Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 33316
MAP
954-728-9801
Best New Bar in South Palm
The Backroom Blues Bar

All that's old is made new again: pegged jeans, environmentalism, Cher, blues. Apparently, the same holds true for blues venues. The Backroom Blues Bar wasn't the most famous venue in South Florida when it closed six years ago, but it was one of the most storied. A list of blues greats had played its stage: James Cotton, who taught Muddy Waters how to sing "I Got My Mojo Workin'"; John Mayall, without whom you'd have never heard of Mick Taylor; Fleetwood Mac, or, arguably, Eric Clapton; Leon Russell, without whom neither The Byrds nor Joe Cocker would ever have sounded so cool. The list goes on. When owner John Yurt decided to throw in the towel to home-school John Jr., the blues done got blue. No more! The Backroom is back, occupying the space formerly known as Hideaway. Already, bent and broken-hearted notes from battered hollow-bodies are rending the air above Boca. Rejoice.

7200 N. Dixie Highway, Boca Raton, 33487
MAP
561-860-4679
Best New Bar in Central Palm

Imagine, for the sake of argument, that the retro-lounge art of Shag and the cartoon universe of The Jetsons were tossed in a blender and set to liquefy. The space-age concoction that pours forth will no doubt emerge as iconoclastic as the Jetsetter Lounge itself, a magical space-age tiki-hut where dreams (especially those revolving around expensive tropical drinks) come true. With furniture that won't be out of place on the next century's space station, live lounge lizards crooning on weekends, and the ubiquitous lowbrow paintings on the walls, the Jetsetter sprang forth fully formed when it opened in early 2006, oozing cool the way Mount Kilauea leaks magma. Owner and style consultant Mike Jones built himself a playground for grownups here, and now he's got the hipster crowd eating out of his hand. Out back is a luxurious terrace decked out in a sort of Easter Island theme, and even though you're next to the street, it feels like a friend's backyard barbecue.

Best Rock Club
The Poor House

Sometimes, all it takes to have a good rock club is good acoustics, a dark atmosphere, and bartenders serving stiff drinks. Longtime Himmarshee hangout the Poor House has all that, and it's one of the few places along the New River district that's down-to-Earth — forget about a dress code and cover charge. The small room has the feel of an old country roadhouse, and it indeed began its life as a blues club back in the mid '90s. The music doesn't start until late, usually around midnight, so don't show up too early. But the atmosphere and décor scream old-school rockabilly, and folks can enjoy it without having to shell out a heap of cash. If the name doesn't give it away, the Poor House is also one of the cheapest rock clubs to drink at.

110 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 33312
MAP
954-522-5145
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Best Neighborhood Bar, Central Palm Beach: O'Shea's Irish Pub

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