Bars are pretty much like hunting grounds — everyone's looking to trap a tight-tailed, doe-eyed trophy. Personally, I'm not a big fan of hunting in either sense of the word — barbarically gunning down a beautiful animal or relentlessly liquoring up some hottie at a bar.
Something I could get used to, however, is the idea of a good hunting lodge. The camaraderie! The revelry! The euphoric drunkenness and endless rounds of big, frothy mugs! No flirtation, no drama, just pure booze-swiggin' and plenty of... broisms? As I quickly learned, brand-spanking-new Boca bar the Lodge Beer and Grill offers its own flavor of machismo and brotherhood, and it had me at the advertisement of a hearty brew. I may not be much of a trophy, but when it comes to booze, I'm a damned easy target.
Ambiance: The first thing I noticed about the Lodge was the woody scent that took me back to sixth-grade shop class. As I made my way inside the place, with its low, distinctly un-Shaq-friendly ceilings, the click-clack of my high heels echoed over the wooden floors, against the bare wooden walls, and across the immaculate wooden bar. In short, I estimate that no fewer than 9 million trees died to create the cabinesque beer bar that is the Lodge.
The Lodge Beer and Grill, 200 S. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton. Call 561-392-5003, or visit thelodgeboca.com.
It was Monday, happy-hour time, but currently pretty much deserted. A few people turned from sitting in stony silence to look at me. Lilli, the brunet bartender, paced back and forth in front of the long line of beer spigots and spotless, neatly placed glasses. To the side of the establishment, a glass deer head and fireplace led into a minuscule seating area.
As I settled in, afraid to disturb the dead silence in this tree skeleton of a bar, a trio of burly, dark-haired dudes came bursting from the smaller room.
"Sorry, but it's hot as holes in here," one of them said. "Er, sorry, ladies."
Beer: "Yeah, the A/C is broken," Lilli said, confirming my worst nightmare. Sensing my agitation, she slid a Newcastle to me in a flash and answered all my random questions.
The Lodge had been open for about a month now; no, she didn't know how many trees had to die in its creation; no, the owner had no particular interest in hunting. Fortunately, these days, you don't have to murder helpless animals to be manly: You've just got to hold your beer. After Lilli flipped a menu my way, I quickly learned that the food was quite a bit more than plain ol' dead-animal burgers — it boasted salads, veggie ciabattas, and plenty of tempting entrées. But more important, I learned that the Lodge's beer list is nothing to scoff at. It carries brews from all over the planet, from the Bahamas to Holland to New Zealand.
At that point, a man in glasses with tousled hair put a stack of papers down on the bar and flopped into a chair.
"You finish your taxes?" Lilli asked.
"It's just coming down to how much I want to lie," he said, tapping his glass. "If I don't lie, I can't afford this beer. If I do lie, I can have another one after."
"Well, I think the IRS would understand that drinking is necessary," I offered. Once I had his attention, I asked, "So, why do you come to this bar?"
"I've got a list of bar necessities," explained the guy, who gave only the name "Zevon." "It has to have good beer, a nice waitress, good music, games or entertainment, be relatively cheap, and be close to home. This meets five of the six criteria — and would meet all six if it had a pool table or something."
I paused and listened. Nearly inaudible country music was playing softly.
"I can't argue with anyone who has a bar checklist," I said.
"But it's all about the beer here," Zevon said. "Sometimes bars will tell you they have 20 different beers on tap — and you'll go in and find Miller, Miller Light, Miller Select... you know. Twenty different flavors of piss!"
He paused, savoring his brew.
"What's the difference between commercial American beer and having sex in a canoe?" he asked.
I shook my head.
"They're both fucking close to water."
A minute later, a bar employee came by with "free drink" tokens.
"The A/C is fixed now," he said. "But here's for suffering through."
"Well, I guess you can afford a third beer now, taxes be damned," I told Zevon.
He smirked and pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket. "Yeah, and I have a coupon for a free drink too."
Patrons: When I turned away from Zevon, I noticed that the bar had spontaneously filled with a rowdy pack of beer-swiggin' college kiddos that I immediately wanted to move in with and live vicariously through. Filiz, a thimble-sized blond with an adorable smile, sipped a mango-flavored beer with her boyfriend T.J.; friend Jackie; two roommates, both named Alex; plus some other guy, Will.
"This place really reminds me of my childhood," dark-haired Alex mused nostalgically.
"What, you grew up in a cabin?" quipped Other Alex, a tall recent FAU grad with a Florida-shaped tattoo on his arm. "I guess I could see you with a beard at 7."
"Yeah, man, that's exactly what I did. I'm a feral child."
"Oh! Humorous college-kid banter! Please incorporate me into your conversation!" I didn't say that, but thought it loudly as I too ordered a mango-flavored beer, at Filiz's recommendation.
Will, who wore a Marlins ball cap and squinted when he talked, was happy to humor me by helping me analyze the scene and answering my ridiculous questions.
I noted that he and his friends weren't quite the flannel-shirted, rifle-toting crowd I anticipated when I walked in. "This bar — the unaptly titled Lodge — is apparently filled with gun-hating liberals," I complained sardonically.
"Liberals? Get 'em out of here," he whispered. "But seriously, what were you expecting, a bunch of good ol' boys?"
"Yes. Instead, I got one guy doing his taxes and an assload of college kids."
"Taxes, shit! I still haven't done mine," Will said. "I'm not looking forward to giving the government all my money."
Beer and Bros: When I walked back down to Filiz's side of the bar, boyfriend T.J. was eating sweet potato fries.
"I could smoke this fry," he told me. "You can quote me on that." He smacked down the fry and offered me one. I snatched it up, claimed it as my dinner, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Man, for bar fries, these fries weren't anything to sniff at.
"You know what I hate," Filiz said out of the blue. "Using 'bro' as a greeting. It's so frattish. Over Easter, he told me to text someone back 'bro' as a response to 'hi.' "
"Look, it's a greeting: 'Bro.' 'Bro.' " T.J. explained.
"They're clearly trying to utter as few syllables as possible," I observed.
"Come to think of it, this is kind of a Broback Mountain kind of place," T.J. mused.
"No. No, it's not that kind of place," Lilli said.
"No, not Brokeback Mountain," T.J. said. "I just mean... 'cause it's cabin-y."
I stared at him. "What's the exact definition of 'Broback'?" It sounded way kinkier to me than some cowboy love story.
He pulled out his iPhone and began scrolling.
"They're called broisms," he told me. "There are lots of them. Bromance... Abrocrombie and Fitch... ambrodextrous..."
"Wait, what the hell is ambrodextrous?" Florida-tattoo Alex asked.
"It's apparently a bro who can throw a shaka with both his right and left hands," T.J. read the definition from his iPhone.
The gang collectively blinked.
"That's stupid," Filiz blurted. "How do girls feel about broisms?"
"Hey, girl, I'm ambrodextrous," feral-child Alex said in a faux-flirty voice.
"I'd be like, 'Door. Now,' if someone said that to me," Filiz said, gesturing toward the heavy Lodge door.
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"There's gotta be some girls who like broisms," T.J. reasoned.
"No." I said.
"I mean, someone for everyone, right?" he said.
Well, maybe not someone for everyone, but there's definitely some bar for everyone. And hell, maybe yours is a lodge-themed place in Boca where you can listen to fratty banter and consume an inabropriate amount of beer — all without a hunter, gun, or stuffed deer head in sight.