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.
Sidelines is not a club. If you're interested in rubbing your ass against the washboard abs of some 20-year-old androgyne with a glow-in-the-dark tongue ring in the middle of a sweat-soaked drug orgy while Anastacia freaks out at a billion decibels, Sidelines is not the place for you. It is simply a remarkable gay bar. First of all, it is gay. Gay (queer) men and gay (queer) women hang around the place being gay (happy) until the place announces last call at 2 a.m. Second of all, it's a bar in the truest sense of the word — a sports bar, as a matter of fact, with the low-key, no-pressure atmosphere that such a designation implies. The nicest thing about the SoFla gay community is that, despite the great number of GLBT folks who have made homes here in the last decade, there is still a small-town mentality. Walk into a place like Sidelines, and it's a given that you'll know somebody. The music's always eclectic — on a recent Tuesday, Sam Cooke, Madonna, Fleetwood Mac, the Isley Brothers, and U2 were played back-to-back — and loud enough to lose yourself in but not so loud you couldn't talk over it. The booze is plentiful and inexpensive, the space is blessedly clean but not austere — think Cheers done up in dark greens with a lot more space and decorated by gay men with an equal passion for football and feng shui, and you'll get the picture.
With four active stages at this low-lit, 27-year-old feline-inspired club, Cheetah Pompano Beach has all the strip-club staples, just quadrupled. So you get the featured touring acts like the creatively monikered Felony Foreplay and Amber Waves, a happy hour that lasts all afternoon (11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.), a free lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and a free carving station from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Not enough food? Try the free midnight buffet. You're going to need to save your money, because it's going to end up in the G-strings (and other places) of the dozens of women parading in front of you. Want a private show for 150 of your closest friends? Rent the "party room." There may not be any sex in the champagne room, but whatever goes on, you can be guaranteed you won't leave hungry.
If bigger is better, the Park Sports Club is the best. Its 15,000 square feet hold about 40 plasma TVs, two 16- by nine-foot video walls, and an 80-foot bar in a split-level room designed to look like a baseball park — the bathroom appears to be a locker room, and the couches are made of the same leather and use the same stitching as regulation baseball gloves. There are actual skyboxes, or you can be served sitting in the "bleachers" (tables built at different levels). Want some privacy? Rent the cigarette-friendly "Coach's Office" for private parties. There's a full menu of traditional sports-bar fare, but the highlight (or lowlight, depending upon your cholesterol count) is the chocolate chip cookie à la mode for $7.
It's not the ease of getting a cab or the proximity of this bar to a few hotels or some buddy's house in Fort Lauderdale that makes it the best place to get hammered. It's the fact that this one bar is really two and, thus, double the drinking pleasure. Start off in the dark and quiet interior of Side 1, where the regulars gather daily around the grand mahogany bar for happy hour to chat about their workdays, their significant others, or the War Against Terror. Go ahead, order that first shot at 4 p.m. — we did say this is the place to get drunk, right? By sunset, you should be well on your way to being blotto, and you may have made a few new friends too. If the 70-something man who's put his cane on the bar next to his Miller High Life starts making you feel old, stand up, push in that padded barstool, and walk west through a little hallway (if you need cigs, put a fiver into the machine next to the bathrooms along the way). Suddenly, you're in a whole new bar and not only didn't you have to drive, you didn't even have to go outside. In the back room at Kim's, the lights tend to be just a shade brighter — mostly so you can shoot pool and darts or challenge someone to a Ping-Pong match. The second jukebox is sure to be playing something distinct from the one up front, and the regulars back here are a whole different group. It's a no-frills kind of establishment (taking home Best Neighborhood Bar in 1999). In 2000, the friendly and veteran Laurrie Pood won Best Bartender for her mixology skills as well as her ability to make everyone feel welcome. Laurrie is still there and will surely make you her signature drink if you ask. It's Stoli strawberry vodka, banana liqueur, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, and Sprite. She's named it the "Drunken Monkey."
Once called Harry's Open Door, this Lake Worth bar changed its name to sponsor a kid's ball club, which wouldn't take money from a bar. That sort of neighborliness, combined with a raunchy atmosphere that spurred Penthouse to designate it as one of America' s ten sleaziest bars (the owner has the shellacked news clipping to prove it), makes Harry's a great place to get drunk. Well, that and the 60-ounce pitcher for just $6. Since 1954, the family business (first Harry Seifert Sr.'s and now Jr.'s) has been this tiny neighborhood joint and its jukebox, lending library, pool and foosball tables, and golf and bowling videogames. Best of all, it opens at 7 a.m. every day (except Sundays, when the law won't let 'em open till 1 p.m.). Harry's is also a package store that is jam-packed with oddities that give it a garage-sale/clubhouse feel: a ten-foot alligator, a female mannequin in T-shirt and panties, and a mounted deer's ass. The place has a naughty charm, thanks to banana-and-breast art work done by locals including artist Clarence "Skip" Measelle and a winking sense of humor evidenced by the tiny ten-ounce glasses in this self-proclaimed "home of the big ass beer."
Drink prices at Rosies's drop down at 2 p.m., not the standard 4 o'clock happy hour. And that's just the first reason why this spot hosts the best happy hour in Broward County. (Just think, if you take your break late, your liquid lunch will be half price!) There's never an obnoxious "ladies' night" at this gay-friendly bar and grill, where free drinks leave your soul and patience with a heavy deficit. Rosie's celebrates all the major drinking holidays, like St. Patrick's Day and Mardis Gras, with decorations, specialty cocktails, and music to fit the occasion. A choice between sitting inside or out at this massive bar is the final reason Rosie's gets the blue ribbon.
Named after the man who owned four Kentucky Derby horses and the longest-running illegal casino in American history, E.R. Bradley's knows how to party, and that includes a kickin' happy hour five days a week. Since 1984, when it opened in its original location on Palm Beach, the upper crust and some real heels have packed the place Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. — even though there are no drink specials. Instead, the waterfront restaurant lays out free eats for those who buy just two drinks (otherwise, it's $16). With a carving station, finger foods, minipizzas, and wrap sandwiches among the selections, it's a filling, well-balanced and delicious meal worth the cost of a couple of beers. The spacious indoor bar, with its vaulted ceiling, offers both a DJ and lots of seating. Outdoors, the tiki bar beneath the expansive green awning offers smokers a wonderful view of the Intracoastal while they enjoy a stogie from the humidor. But the real reason happy hour is so wildly popular is the people. Financially flush society types, international businesspeople, and professional up-and-comers make for terrific networking and great date potential.
There are 11 Sidepockets around these United States, and all but this one are clustered in Kansas, Nebraska, or Missouri. How a Sidepockets landed this far from the rest is a mystery, but there's no questioning the business plan: Build a big pool hall (43 tables in 21,000 square feet) that serves big food (most notably, five kinds of half-pound burgers for under $8) that you can eat while watching sports on big TVs (four 12-foot-wide high-def projection screens). Sidepockets also pays attention to the little things: The tables and sticks are warp-free, the lighting and space between tables is perfect, and the place is much cleaner than your average dingy pool hall. And the prices? Just right. Tables are $5 an hour until 6 p.m. and $10 an hour afterward. Lunch and dinner specials start at $6.50, and if you buy lunch on a weekday, you get a free hour of pool.
Before smokers became second-class citizens, cigarette equaled sophisticate. Fitzy's Lounge returns dignity to tobacco lovers with an industrial-chic décor (check out the illuminated, 47-foot arced bar) and a cigar list that starts at $8 and ends at $100. Owners John and Marit Fitzpatrick understand a good pairing, and that's why they offer a selection of blended and single-malt scotches to set off a chocolaty figurado or silky robusto. Likewise, they offer a twist on the classic coffee-and-cigarette combo with their Fitzy's Fuel martini, made with four potent shots of espresso, chocolate vodka, and Bailey's. On Tuesdays, a jazz quartet plays for no cover or drink minimum — although you may still want some champagne to go with your smokes. It's a great combination, and Fitzy's claims to sell more bubbly than any other Delray establishment.

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