Michele Eve Sandberg

Rodney Mayo, he who has given us pretty much every cool nightclub and restaurant in Broward and Palm Beach for four decades, is on a perpetual mission to improve West Palm Beach's downtown. Camelot, his 13th establishment, is the newest addition to his portfolio. An antithesis to Mayo's early punk pits like Respectable Street and Lost Weekend, Camelot is a grownup lounge that brings upscale late-night entertainment to the Clematis area. The club's design is an homage to the Kennedys and their love of the ocean, sailing, and Palm Beach. There's a bar that serves lobster and a DJ booth that looks like the front of a yacht. With only premium spirits and a membership card needed to get past the doorman, Camelot isn't exactly attracting the college bro crowd — and that's by design.

Gay dive bars are a mixed bag. Step into a random one off the street and you can either end up hanging with some of the grimiest horndogs or the coolest queer barflies around. Hit up Smarty Pants for the latter. It claims to be the oldest alt lifestyle bar in town, known variously over the past 30 years as the Bushes, Little Jim's, and Simba's Lounge. It's definitely one of the chillest watering holes — gay or straight — that you'll find in Fort Lauderdale. It has an annual chili cook-off and a trivia night on Thursdays at 6 p.m. If you want to drink to some celestial singing voices, its karaoke nights showcase some fine-ass pipes (Friday and Saturday 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday 3 to 7 p.m.). Drinks are dirt-cheap, and the people are the friendliest. If you don't want to peep any one-eyed snakes, though, just don't look up at the TV screens above the bar. If you do, keep staring; no one'll judge.

Readers' Choice: Original Fat Cats

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea has never looked better. The chunk of land home to the Commercial Pier and Kilwins has recently had a face-lift and is now a pedestrian-friendly, brightly colored plaza that attracts both locals and tourists. But while there are a lot of new sights and sounds down by the beach in LBS, there are also some old classics — places that haven't changed in years and haven't changed for a reason. The Village Pump — the bar and Siamese twin of the adjoining Village Grille — has been bringing a little slice of Boston to the beach for years. There aren't many pubs in this world where you can grab a pint of Guinness while listening to waves crash. This joint is close enough to the beach to enjoy all the sights and sounds but far enough away that you don't have to worry about seagulls stealing your French fries.

As part of Fort Lauderdale Beach's famous Ocean Manor Resort, the Bamboo Beach Club & Tiki Bar has developed a reputation apart from its iconic neighbor. Whereas Ocean Manor oozes a South Beach glitz, Bamboo Beach is all old-school Florida — jiggling flesh, sunburns, and thatched roofs. Although it might not initially complement the swanky Ocean Manor at first blush, consider that sometimes, you want to sip a fancy cocktail; sometimes, you want to shotgun a Milwaukee's Best. The Bamboo made an appearance on season two of Spike TV's Bar Rescue, and the recovery process seems to be well underway.

Stout doesn't mess around. You know what you're getting before your shadow even darkens the doorway. Located on Andrews Avenue, just where Oakland Park's residential neighborhoods brush up against Oakland Park Boulevard's commercial strips, Stout is hard to miss. Driving up, you can spot the signage: a huge glass of Guinness-looking beer, big as a Macy's parade float. Inside, the place is no-frills. That's not to say that Stout lacks an aesthetic. The entire bar is covered in Old Chicago Brick, so you feel like you're walking into a castle's secret drinking lair. And with 40 flat-screen TVs planted around the bar as well as more than 60 beers on the menu, the bar is a good place to camp out on an NFL Sunday or for a string of NBA playoff matchups. And when your team tanks (because your team always tanks, right?), Stout has about 100 whiskeys with which to obliterate the loss.

Readers' Choice: Bru's Room

What makes a biker bar the best? Tough babes, cold brews, and long beards. At J.S. Lounge, you get all that, plus good conversation over an icy, $3 Yuengling with guys who look like they could be members of Z.Z. Top (and chances are, they've got a story about this one time backstage with Billy and Dusty and a couple o' girls...). When a live band's not playing, J.S. flaunts a stocked karaoke machine for your "Green Grass and High Tides" fix. And if a guy named Milwaukee Jack tells you to pick a couple of songs, follow his advice and "just don't play none o' that disco shit."

The goal of kava and hookah bars is the same as the wares they peddle: relaxation. Friendly and knowledgeable, the staff at Awa Na will teach you about kava and set you up with either a bowl or shell of your chosen kava flavor, then set you up with a hookah and give you the run of the place. Darts, cornhole, videogames — the place is filled with stuff to do. Furthermore, it hosts karaoake, comedy, and trivia nights. Forget that pitcher of beer; this is the way to blow off steam.

We must confess, it's a depressing fact that Broward lacks any "one" spot for ladies who love ladies. Where are we, girls? Too tired from a day of unloading the U-Haul to get out at night for a round of Dos Equis? The good news is that there are so many lesbians on this sunny Southern tip of America's wang that the probability of running into a group of them is very, very high. So high that your girl probably dated one of them, and that ex's best friend just scheduled a tire slashing for later this evening. You've been warned.

We may or may not have a gay uncle who may or may not drive over from the west coast specifically to come to this bar, and he may or may not have errantly left his cock ring on the floor of the guest bedroom where he was staying, and we may or may not have picked it up inquisitively, not knowing what it was. Until we went to Ramrod. Now we know.

Readers' Choice: Vibe

For working South Florida musicians, playing live music is always a tough venture. The money never quite seems adequate for the task, and like so many things that get debased, a culture of "doing it for the sake of doing it" arises. Hunters, however, is one of the rare places that gives musicians their chance and helps line their pockets a little. The bar established a "Live on the Drive" music series, letting live bands take over the dance floor and feeding the community's ears with what they've been missing. In addition to sonic nourishment, patrons can expect quality drinks at a reasonable price: $5 craft bourbons, $3 craft beers, and $2 draft beers. Singer Kat Riggins and Blues Revival play the first Wednesday of every month.

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