Best Place to Get Drunk 2009 | Original Fat Cat's | Bars & Clubs | South Florida

I sometimes picture my liver in the glass bottle of vodka behind the bar. On tough days, it's in the whiskey. If this just worried you, stop reading here... because in the dark, dank world of Fat Cat's, shame isn't welcomed. I know this — I'm the regular, not you. I am not worried that this self-proclaimed acknowledgment will expose me. The barkeeps and fellow patrons don't know where I work or what I do. The staff didn't just walk off the sitcom Cheers. At Fat Cat's, there is no time to get to know you — so shuffle up to the bar and order your drink. That kind of cheery welcome satisfies the lovely, low-maintenance bartenders. This is not the place where female quasi-bartenders stand on the bar — if there's ass shaking in your face, that's because you fell on the dirty ground. Take my lead: Bring to the bar only the companions who understand the lush, drunk, or zombie drunk side of you. In this liquor shop, succumb to the drunkenness and embrace a look that says you have nowhere to go. Be nowhere and everywhere at once — be in your watering black hole.

Most people know about the endangered Florida panther, stalking the Everglades. But an even more incredible beast is the lesser-discussed (but infinitely more ubiquitous) South Florida cougar. These creatures have been spotted in bars and nightclubs up and down the coast; witnesses often report seeing them with a martini in one paw and a demur post-adolescent male cub in the other. They're known to travel in packs tagged with Louis Vuitton insignia and marked by the scent of mature, lustful uteri. They are an extremely intelligent species whom nature has provided with a dangerous array of weaponry: from large houses to expensive cars to alimony checks with lots of zeros. And there's no better place to see a sleek cougar in her natural habitat than Christopher's, along the Intracoastal. If you really want to hunt a cougar, though, you're out of luck. Not because it's illegal (cougar season is open year-round) but because a cougar simply refuses to be prey. The best you can do is show up, make eye contact, and hope she wants to sink her teeth into you.

Michele Eve Sandberg

You see it all the time: women flocking to ladies' nights at Dicey Riley's or the Cove, tottering in high heels and wearing shiny tank tops. Their hair is perfectly flat-ironed, their Prada bags on display. This the worst possible way to meet single men, because the competition is stiff and the men are intimidated. Oh, and it could qualify as fraud — c'mon, you know that after you snag the guy, you're beelining for sweatpants and a ponytail holder. Ladies, let's try this the easy way. By showing up at a Fins game, you have the guy-to-girl ratio in your favor. Then, when you find a nice boy (he's under that XXL mesh jersey!), you can put him at ease by asking about subjects he knows, like two-point conversions — not what ingredients may be in your $13 Cosmo. He can tell right away that you're not after his money — for God's sake, you're shotgunning a can of Coors! And if you find your heart skipping a beat for a man wearing orange and turquoise (together?!) — that's true love, sister!

Typically, this award goes to venues that hold several pool tables, but this year's winner does not have — surprise! — more than two. Located near the docks of Port Everglades, this seafarer's bar mixes boaters, locals, and expats — all ready to share stories in between a maelstrom of shots and swears. So with the two pool tables and full liquor bar comes the modern Odyssey — the Lotus Eaters (drunk men), the Sirens (drunk women), and the shipwrecks (drunk men plus drunk women). And unless the actual cue-to-ball motion is a drug for you — and the ones who get "high" off the game are fun to watch too — pool is sometimes not enough. Instead, travel to play pool in the sea world.

Ian Witlen

Let's get one thing straight up front: Clowns are fucking creepy. And circuses are mostly filled with sanctioned animal abuse and freaks who don't believe in gravity (until it hits them in the face). But not all big tops are bad. The Circus Sports Bar and Grill in Pompano has a fantastic collection of clowns and party animals sitting on both sides of the old wooden bar every night. These Ringling-worthy souls won't jump through fire on command or crowd into a tiny car with a bunch of men in makeup (well, maybe after a few drinks). But most of the neighborhood men and women who've been coming here since the '70s will buy a stranger a round and sit around shooting the shit. There's no bearded lady or tight rope, but there are enough pictures of clowns to scare all the children in Florida twice over. Clown paintings, clown drawings, clown sculptures, even a stained-glass clown. Luckily, the friendly faces (and cheap drinks) more than make up for the eerie setting. Plus, it doesn't smell like elephant shit.

The Mai-Kai was a mini Polynesian theme park in the middle of Fort Lauderdale when Fort Lauderdale consisted only of a beach and a few condos. Except for some recent, hurricane-induced renovations, the restaurant hasn't changed much since its opening in 1956. Its over-the-top jungle décor, flowing rivers, and roadside torches remain. The drinks are your typical island-vacation fare, except for one: the "mystery drink," which might fail to be much of a mystery to devoted South Floridian fans after 50 years. Still, it's the only drink in the area that will get you and three friends noticeably hammered as — spoiler alert! — hot Pacific Islanders dance for you. If you keep drinking and decide to roam through the Mai-Kai's tropical gardens, be mindful of all those pesky waterfalls and rivers that totally come out of nowhere.

A ship set sail many moons ago. Across a harsh, turbulent sea, the vessel pushed forward. The rugged crew, tested by times of famine and poverty, was a surly but fun bunch. When the ship docked in local waters, it brought strange and exotic spices from the faraway land of "Pitts-berg." The ship's colors were odd: a mix of what the sailors referred to as "Black and Gold," and the crew spoke constantly of a set of great warriors they called "The Steelers." There were other ships with bigger, better weapons (and thousands of giant plasma screens), but those ships lacked the soul — the loyalty of a pack of lovelorn sailors in tropical exile. To witness such dedication — the clan generally worships on Sundays in the fall — is to peer at the fickle desperation deep in every seaman's heart. They say the shrieking sound of the pleas from the despairing men aboard would reduce even the most stoic admiral to tears. The ship eventually became known in legends as "The Wayward Sailor Pub." Yes, there might be shinier boats on the water, but none so pure and true as she.

The taxicab top in front of you at the stoplight advertises Scarlett's Cabaret. This is spotted as you drive to work, and you curse your keen detective eye, because maybe this Tuesday you wouldn't have been thinking of naked ladies during office hours. And now the unreasonable side of you already has you positioned in front of the main stage when doors open at noon, tucking a bill into... well, nowhere, because this is a full-nudity strip club. And full liquor bar. And hours are so reasonable that they can fit around anyone's work schedule. Scarlett's doesn't shut its doors until 6 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The fact is (and any fact that involves strippers is a damned good fact) that once the bars close at Hard Rock and in downtown Fort Lauderdale, your partying won't be interrupted, because you know the procession of stripper after stripper never quits. Now that's a reason to get dressed in the morning, so sanctify this cycle of daily life: Wake up, put on clothes, find that damned cab, and take clothes off.

Remember penny candy stores? Save your allowance for a few weeks and you could pick and choose among hundreds of forms of sugar. By the end of the shopping trip, there would be 30 types of candy in your bag and some change left over for next time. Vino is the grownup version of that candy store. Purchase a Vino-branded smart card for $5, load it with as much as you'd like to spend, and you're ready to be transported to Willy Wonka's wine factory. More than 40 bottles of wine are hooked into high-tech machines designed to dispense happiness a taste at a time. Place your card into the slot above the wine of your choice, place your glass under the stainless-steel spout, and hit a button to get a taste, an ounce, or a glass of wine. Each wine is individually priced in three tiers, and the bottles start at $20, making it easy to afford a taste of the good life. You can bring the bottle home or drink it right there and pair it with some food. Vino is a wine lover's candy store, and it's time to get your inner child drunk.

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