Best Bar for Smokers 2006 | Club M | Bars & Clubs | South Florida
Downtown Hollywood has gone through a slew of changes over the decades, but none has fazed Club M. This downtown drinkery has been handing out booze for the past 85 years with little concern for fluctuating obsessions about air quality as time elapsed. The bar sits next door to a great little Thai and sushi joint, so if you ask for a menu, you'll get good food -- not burgers and fries. That's a nice perk for smokers, who'd rather focus on drinking and watching live music than hunting down good grub. Regulars such as Max Green and Dave Camp belt out live blues and rock each night on the stage across from the long bar. Sundays, the pool tables are open for free play, and every day before 8 p.m., drinks are two-for-one. So, smoke 'em if you got 'em, 'cause there is plenty to see and do.
The day is nigh when the entire downtown village of too-loud, too-expensive bars is going to be plowed under to make way for the encroaching condo canyon. When the ordinances come for these joints, which make such a ruckus indeed, they will come first for the likes of the Brick. Imagine, the nerve to have a live DJ spinning in an open-front establishment every night of the week! Have you seen those waitresses, pouring drinks into funnels while hair-gelled patrons try to peek up their plaid skirts? Disgraceful. For seven bucks, they'll sell you a beer and a shot, libations with licentious handles such as the Blow Job and the Buttery Nipple. When gentrification comes, people will look back in wonder at the Brick and remember the days when $2 Coors drafts, stripper poles, and more than a dozen flat-screen TVs with networked trivia could survive inside the same blue-neon-lit room. For now, it works.
This upscale pub boasts that it serves the "world's largest selection of draft beers." Hard to argue with that. Nestled behind the tennis-court-length bar are 130 spigots for pouring 110 different beers. Few bars offer that variety even in bottled beers. The brew names alone are entertaining: Lost Coast Downtown Brown, He'Brew Kosher, Gulden Draake, Chimay Cinq Cents, and Hoegaarden White. Yard House, a chain that's quickly expanding across the country, brags up the Anderson Valley Hop Ottin India Pale Ale, which is as hoppy as a bunny, and the deliciously bitter-tinged Anchor Liberty Ale. Pints cost from $3.75 -- yes, they have Budweiser and some of the usual suspects -- to a little more than $8 for the exotics. Open 11:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and Sunday and from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 a.m. Friday and Saturday, but the doors close later if the tippling's hearty.
So it seems that almost every hot spot in Fort Lauderdale has the shelf life of a ripe banana -- here today, gone in an hour. It's often those random, out-of-the-way places that seem to keep people coming back for what they can't get at the meet market (as in, serious fun and damned good people). Roxanne's on Main has had many incarnations, but then it became home of the Saturday-night new wave, post-punk, avant-garde revue Revenge. And that ain't all. Roxanne's hosts an event every damned night of the week: Tuesdays is rock and cock ("No cover, no assholes"); Wednesdays, Bernadette's Karaoke runs from 8 p.m. till the last drunk sings; Thursdays features the rockabilly of Ring o' Fire and $2 PBRs; and Friday nights, Phoenix serves up indie/electro for the dance floor and all the trappings of young American debauchery you can shake a slick at.
Cristian Costea
Sure, local cities are bringing in slot machines all over the place, but there's a reason the Hard Rock has established gambling dominance in South Florida. The Rock set aside 130,000 square feet for pure gaming purposes, with 2,100 one-armed bandits and 50 poker tables. And for the thirsty, the Center Bar reaches toward the ceiling from the middle of the gaming floor like a TV-encrusted tower of drink dispensing. But what makes this place such a mecca for weekend partying in Broward is that the Hard Rock gets right what so many tarted-up bingo palaces don't: Even the sharkiest card sharks get up from the table from time to time and want more than felt-covered tables and jangling machines. It's all the stuff that surrounds the gambling den -- nightclubs, eateries, and people, people, people -- that draw us like moths to a flame on hot summer nights. That, and the chance to win our share of the $5.9 million the Hard Rock claims to pay out every day. Now, if we could just get back the shirts we've lost...
Sorry, folks, no marble-lined, zero-horizon swimming pool here. No toned, tanned, bikini-clad nymphets serving fruity frozen drinks that cost more than a tank of gas. No tapas, no trendoids, no high-tech lighting or European house music on a state-of-the-art sound system. Nope, Big Game is none of that, and so much more. This rustic Lauderdale dive bar sits in the parking lot of an old, nameless motel, and during the day, you're just as likely to find snowbirds drying out by the pool as grizzled barflies buzzing under the tall, shady tiki bar a few steps from it. Hewn out of rough, sturdy wood and draped with dried-out palm fronds, that tiki bar is a true gem, manned by a prompt, no-nonsense staff of stiff-drink makers and veteran small talkers. With fishing trophies arching overhead, a hard-rockin' jukebox, and the telltale sign of a well-stocked bar (that's Jameson, folks -- ask for it by name), Big Game would be a cozy locale full of character and characters no matter where it was located. But throw open the doors to the mint-green pool just outside, imagine the sound of traffic on Federal Highway as the roar of ocean surf, lie back on a piece of well-worn deck furniture with a Bud Light in hand, and know you're taking in a true South Florida landmark.
As night poured into South Florida on July 30, 2005, so did a heavy torrent of rain. Anyone who drove up I-95 to Respectable Street's "18 Years of Oblivion" party was certain they'd find a couple of poncho-clad parking attendants telling everyone it'd been canceled. But the gods of bacchanal were surely watching over the 500 block of Clematis Street, which saw little more than a drizzle. By about 9 o'clock, the only meteorological menace to deal with was the usual July heat. So like people who have been given a new lease on life, partygoers took nothing for granted, turning out in droves to various 500-block venues. Some 25 bands played, from local faves (El, the Psycho Daisies) to newcomers (Truckstop Coffee) and even a few out-of-towners (Not for Sal, the Sweetkisses). Seriously, how many block parties offer live music, free drinks, and free pizza without charging admission? Well, here's one. And here's to the hundreds of people who wouldn't let a little rain dampen Clematis Street's best night of the year. And if we're lucky, they'll do it again.
It was a trip to get a secondhand couch for the new apartment. The God-fearing man behind the front desk looked at the delivery address. That's near Duck Soup, he said. He had seen some bad stuff in Duck Soup. His parting advice as he handed over the receipt: "Don't go to Duck Soup." Up his. Duck Soup turned out to be a homely dive joint where the beer was cheap, the jukebox decent, the TVs turned to basketball, and the bartenders thrilled to have guests. Over time, it appeared, it also got some ambition and some dough. After months of renovation, the place has climbed a couple of rungs on the great bar ladder, with new TVs, a refinished pool table, higher ceilings, live music, and noticeable interior lights. Soon, we hear, the bar's also going to get a new name, but we could get no hints on what it will be. The laquered copper top of the bar gleams like a lunar surface lined in pennies. And behind it, an affable blond with all manner of piercings in her face and ears and a too-short T-shirt that reads "Rotten Little Girl" and shows off her tattoos: an upturned bleeding skull on her left shoulder, a line of ghostly skulls on her upper spine, six-shooters emblazoned over her kidneys. She laughs with the patrons, dances a little to the music, and serves a mean $2 bottle of Miller Lite. Her name is Jessica, and though her presence may deter some, you should heed your impulse, not their advice, and go to Duck Soup.
Back in '99, a young bartender traveled to Islamorada to watch the superstars of bartending compete in the Bartender's Bash. Rob Husted watched the best of the best twirl cups and juggle bottles and got hooked on "flair bartending," and in seven short years, he's climbed to the top of the sport. In 2004, he won the title of Most Accurate Bartender in the World, and the next year, he placed 11th at the Legends of Bartending World Finals and outranked many grizzled shaker-spinners. Rob not only entertains the hip crowd at Palm Beach Gardens' hottest nightclub full time but he also teaches the art to others looking to twirl and pour their way to a fatter tip jar. If that weren't enough, he manages to organize BarWars, an annual Flair Bartending Competition, and is vice president of -- the sport's most popular magazine. This guy makes the fancy cup-twirler at your local dive look like a clumsy oaf while he pours a half-dozen shots at once, juggles bottles, and performs total liquor magic to get the booze from the bottle to your mouth.
How many times do you have to listen to your significant other say "Oh, Milwaukee's Best... again" before you get the clue. Before you have to face the embarrassment of asking the clerk at some chain store if Sam Adams is better than Corona, go to Case and Keg and get some expert advice. Right when you walk in the door, you know you've found the place where beer lives. It feels like you've strolled into a whiskey barrel -- tight, dark, and filled with booze. Wherever your eyes fall are colorful labels and bottles that you won't recognize. Micro, domestic, and imported varieties of brew reach into the hundreds, with more coming in weekly, as well as more than 150 beers by the keg. Too lazy, or drunk, to drive? Give them a call and have the infamous Party Wagon roll out to your pad and drop off a keg of Native Ale or South Florida's favorite microbrew, No. 11 Brown. Oh, and make sure you also check out the website,, for Beer Babe of the Month.

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