Night Watch: Reef Road Rum Bar

Reef Road Restaurant & Rum Bar
223 Clematis St., West Palm Beach.
Call 561-838-9099, or visit here.

I was sitting inside Reef Road, vegging out to an ultrachill Sublime cover by Caribbean Club, the two-man band on stage. The bottles of rum behind the bar shone temptingly, illuminated by an electric-yellow background. I was torn between a pineapple basil martini and a raspberry riptide, both lovingly concocted by the rum bar's very own mixologist.

But then something more enticing than the most refined rum caught my eye: a bevy of beautiful brunets. They were young, with smooth, tanned skin; big earrings; and tight dresses. Two broad-shouldered men trailed obediently behind them.

"What kind of shots are we doing?" demanded the tallest, who seemed to be their unofficial
leader.

"You pick -- it's your birthday," snapped one of her sassy friends. Eventually they settled on an amalgamation of Red Bull and strawberry flavor as well as very potent liquor.

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"I'm turning 26," Jen, the birthday girl, told me. "I'm old. But not as old as her." She pointed at her petite friend. "She's 42."

The smaller girl, who had glossy black hair and an oval face, blanched. "Bitch! I am not!"

"What else are y'all doing for Jen's birthday?" I asked them. "Shots!" said someone behind me.

"We're seeing Brad Paisley in concert," Jen said. "And then I'm going on a cruise."

"Let's not talk about that," said the petite girl. "She's missing my bridal shower!"

"I'm

not even in the wedding party!" Jen snapped back. Before things could

get ugly, the bartender pushed over four little glasses of Day-Glo-pink

liquid. The girls snatched them up. They posed for a photo, swigged

their shots, then gagged and grimaced. But once the smooth booze

settled in, Jen and her petite friend began grinding to the music.

"I love this girl!" screamed the latter. "It's her birthday!"

Despite

the sexy party girls, Reef Road is the ultimate West Palm chill zone.

On a recent Friday night, I peeled myself from the buzz of Clematis

Street and wound up in this kitschy surfer's haven. Two dudes stood on a

narrow stage, one playing trombone, the other strumming a mellow

guitar. A long, wooden bar, illuminated by puffer-fish lanterns,

extended along the right side of the room; carved tiki-mask pillars held

up the planked-and-thatched ceiling; nets, lanterns, and ceramic fish

hung helter-skelter around the room; dozens of sepia-toned photos, all

depicting fisher folks and surfers, decorated the far left wall.

"We're

named after the surfer spot in West Palm," clarified Fernando, a

dark-haired employee.
"All those pictures are actually old photos from

Reef Road."

"So, how are the rums?" I asked.

"We have between 80

and 85 rums right now," he answered. "Soon we hope to have over a

hundred. We also infuse all our own vodkas and use fresh fruit in our

cocktails. So there's something for everyone. Our shots of rum run from

$6.50 to $50 per single shot."

Bonnie, petite and dark-haired;

Barbara, light-skinned with large eyes; and Mike, slender with cropped

hair, all sat together by the bar, laughing and talking.

"Twenty years ago, the only bar down here was Respectables," Mike told me. "But West Palm is growing. It's on the rise."

"How do you know?" I asked.

"We have later nights here than Miami or Fort Lauderdale -- places are open till 5 a.m.," he said.

"Plus, there's a lot of revamping going on. This place used to be a ghetto. I grew up in D.C.; I know when an area is dodgy."

"Sometimes we go to a goth club around here," said Barbara, who was primly dressed and well-spoken.

"You

do?" Bonnie exclaimed with a peal of laughter. "I'd go with you, but

just for the entertainment. I'd have to wear earplugs."

"If you go to a goth club with me, I'll dance to Lady Gaga with you," Barbara replied.
Mike

responded with a dance -- in his chair -- that involved excessive body

movement and a crazed expression. "That's my white-boy dance. I do a

mean Vanilla Ice too."

"He's actually good at doing Michael Jackson," Bonnie vouched. "It's like his one skill."

"Hey, I have sick skills," said Mike, channeling Napoleon Dynamite. "You should see me with my numchucks."


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