Best Of :: Bars & Clubs
The letters that spell out The Duck above the doorway to this neighborhood joint sit slightly askew, as if they were alphabet magnets stuck haphazardly to the refrigerator by a toddler's chubby hand. Inside, you'll find the usual suspects — groups of college-aged men throwing darts, a handful of focused drinkers with elbows propped on the polished bar top and eyes pointed at a TV screen or into a drink, a couple sharing a basket of wings. Nothing particularly remarkable about any of it, really, but then — that's kind of the point. In South Florida — a place flush with doormen, valet parking, and a palpable desire to impress — the Duck is an oasis of nonpretense and exceptionally strong cocktails that won't set you back a quarter of your daily earnings.
Hidden on the bottom floor of a condo building is a dimly lit enclave of polished exclusivity. Just a handful of tables fits inside, and lights shaped like champagne bubbles hang from the ceiling. A large, comfy leather couch sits beneath a huge flat-screen TV that flashes soundless classics such as the The Big Lebowski. Along with the wine bottles lining every available shelf space, floor-to-ceiling pillars cleverly pose as life-sized corks, engraved with names such as Merlot, Fer, and Marzemino. A glass coffee table in the back is filled with more corks, lest you forget your purpose in lounging here. As you sit and sip from your favorite pinot, you can graze on cheese plates and dark-chocolate-covered açaí berries. A quote on the bathroom door says, "Wine is bottled poetry." In this bar, they mean it.
At first, you might think you love Vibe just for its nice rack. But after spending a little bit more time with this sensual, jazzy, 4,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor club that bills itself as Fort Lauderdale's "only music ultra lounge," you might discover that your love runs a little deeper. Yes, the overhead lighting panel that resembles several dozen breasts of various shapes and sizes is both glowing and glorious, but at Vibe, there's more to life than beautiful bosoms: Strong drinks and good music are pretty awesome too.
Laser Wolf's genesis occurred when a group of flannel- and skinny-jeans-wearing, craft-beer-drinking 20- and 30-somethings finally realized they were much too cool for the bars on Himmarshee. Now they all go to Laser Wolf. They chill out and play music you have never heard of from a vinyl record player. They're hot and young and fun, and they'll even welcome you if you're not as cool as them (and trust me, you aren't). A word of caution: Do not refer to them using a certain word that rhymes with flipster or you will be sent away to hang out with the drunken frat boys, trashy townies, and common folk who have generic musical tastes.
The last time I saw Barbie, she looked pretty desirable. But after a long night of drinking at PRL, she's ended up naked and tied up in a birdcage. Unfortunately for Barbie, explicit photographs of her risqué night of partying adorn the walls. Albeit, she's doing better than the Polish soldiers — all that's left of them is their hats. And poor Tony Montana... looks like someone robbed his grave, displaying his gun like a trophy. Perhaps the perpetrator is the same person who hung the plastic helicopters from the ceiling pipes. I'm a little confused about how the music is still playing, considering that a heap of records has ended up nailed to the wall. I think the only way I'll be able to get the full story is by looking through the photos in the corridor leading to the bathroom. Regardless of what happened here, the walls of PRL really do tell a story.
Finding a happy-hour spot in Fort Lauderdale is about as easy as spotting a guy wearing Ed Hardy. You just have to open your eyes. However, many of the happy-hour specials don't get started until after the workday, and what fun is that? So for those who live by the motto "It's 5 o'clock somewhere," Bahia Cabana is the happy-hour destination for you. Kicking off at the crack of dawn, it has not one, not two but three happy hours a day — 7 to 11 a.m., 4 to 7 p.m., and after 10 p.m. During the morning and afternoon, all drinks are a dollar off. Two-for-one piña coladas and rum runners start after 10 p.m. Added bonus: If you're not stumbling too much, enjoy the rest of happy hour in the pool. Don't worry about driving home either; Bahia Cabana is a stop on the Water Taxi circuit, making this happy-hour extravaganza safer than the rest.