Best Blues Bar 2016 | Blue Jean Blues | Arts & Entertainment | South Florida
Erica K. Landau

Blue Jean Blues features some of the best local artists in South Florida, like Jimmy Cavallo, Joel DaSilva, Eric & the Jazzers, and Kat Riggins. Live music is on blast seven nights a week — quite impressive for a club that sticks to just a few specific music genres. A big menu gives you lots of options: pizza or calamari for food, a glass of Prosecco or signature cocktails (Old Time Blues or Blue Jean Collins) for drinks. When you walk into this joint any night of the week, you'll find a packed bar, dancers on the floor, and men and women singin' the blues like it was in their veins. This is the perfect spot for a fun, sultry night on the town.

Walk along the Broadwalk on Hollywood Beach and you'll run into a little tiki bar that locals and tourists frequent all year round. The Riptide Hotel's beach bar is a simple thatched hut surrounded by chairs, tables, and a soundstage for live music. Underneath, you'll see fun, beachy sayings like "Drink until you're naked" and "No fish were harmed while making our fishbowls." Live music happens every day from 1 to 9 p.m. — the kind of tunes that pair well with a piña colada. The signature drink is the Riptide Lemonade: strawberry-infused vodka mixed with lemonade, a refreshing but lethal combination. You might actually end up naked drinking too many of those, but draft beers, fresh smoothies, and sparkling wines are also available for the taking. If you're hungry, create your own pizza or nab a Riptide Veggie Wrap or Cobb Salad. You can walk right onto the beach with a drink in your hand.

So apparently Rhum Shak serves food. Guess we never really noticed because the live music Wednesday through Sunday was always so great and the daily happy hour so satisfying. Located in the heart of downtown, the ocean-themed bar, with its pirate logo and mural of an underwater scene on the far main wall, is a dream come true for binge drinkers. The drink specials begin at 11 a.m. and run through 7 p.m., turning happy hour into a happy day. That includes $2.25 drafts and $4 house wines. If the cheap cocktails or specialty drinks like the Pirate's Booty or Rhum Shak Sucker Punch knock you on your ass, Rhum Shak can bring you back to life with food specials. On Thursday nights they offer 49-cent chicken wings, and on Saturdays the entire menu is 40 percent off before 5 p.m. Rhum Shak delivers on a wonderful promise: Get drunk, get fat, get entertained, and keep your hard-earned treasure in the process.

Readers' Choice: Mai-Kai Restaurant

Angel Melendez

With live music virtually every single night, Bull Bar has the air of a laid-back college bar, minus the frat boys and the sandal-wearing philosophers. It's small, and the party often spills outside the doors. Locals, young professionals, and tourists alike all pack the Delray Beach hotspot. They come for the daily happy hour and the half-off drinks, but stay — or swing back by at the end of the night — for the singer-songwriters and bands that take the stage, mixing original songs in with plenty of singalong covers. Perhaps the only negative is how busy Bull Bar can get, but taking the numbers into consideration, it's a wonder how clean and comfortable it remains. It's the perfect place to start and end a night of revelry along downtown Delray's Candyland of bars, clubs, and restaurants. It's both the pregame and the nightcap.

What qualifies someone as a great bartender? Is it someone who can make the perfect martini? A barkeep that can spot you walking through the door and have your favorite drink waiting before you even sit down? Or is it that person with so many followers, his or her bar is packed with loyal regulars? Brule Bistro's Randy Rapposelli scores on all of the above. This drink-slinger has been manning the bar at this beloved Delray Beach hotspot for the past four years, when the former gourmet market and lunch spot swapped to a more sophisticated full-service restaurant complete with a full bar in 2012. Now, whether crafting the perfect Old Fashioned, mixing up margaritas, stirring up an ice-cold martini, or offering the perfect wine pairing for your meal, this is one bartender that knows his stuff — and serves a little friendly banter along with it.

Readers' choice: Brett Robertson at Kapow!

Christina Mendenhall

What is it about sassy and fabulous waitresses, frozen cosmos, and a drag show that attracts groups of single women in droves? A popular destination for bachelorette parties, Lips gives the perfect combo of alcohol, glitz, and no-holds-barred humor during their dinner and drag show. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone in a grumpy mood at Lips. The waitresses ooze contagious confidence as they strut around in various glamorous outfits throughout the night. This combined with a few cocktails perfectly primes any single women in the dining room for flirty conversation.

Photo by Kristin Bjornsen

The Heat are up by only two points with 35 seconds left in the game and you can feel the tension reverberate around the bar. High off of all the testosterone in the air and a little tipsy from the bucket of Mich Ultras, you can't help but smile every time you make eye contact with him. He's got shoulders that make you totally okay with cut-sleeve shirts and enough scruff on his jawline to make you call "dibs" to your girls. But you can't call dibs... because you've already called it on three other guys since walking in 30 minutes ago. This place is swarming with guys making flirty eye contact! Whether it's the beer bucket specials, endless TVs, hot waitresses, or a combo of all three, Tilted Kilt has a way of bringing in the bros. They have 21 beers on tap and ample seating for your large squad to get rowdy together, so throw on your hot new outfit and get there. Happy hunting.

Michael McElroy
Grape martini

You've been talking to her for almost 30 minutes and she hasn't once taken a snapchat selfie or said "LOL" out loud. Well dressed in a Boston Proper tank top, fitted white jeans, and wedges, she's confident and has no problem buying her own cocktail. She's a South Florida cougar, and this place is crawling with women just like her. The level of class at Blue Martini Boca is higher than at your average city bar; nothing here is served in a solo cup. Partly for this reason, it has become a local watering hole for the sexy, mature woman. Seven days a week the bar's chic happy hour attracts people of all ages, but a fun-loving and flirty cougar is the signature patron. She rarely turns down an opportunity to talk to a hot youngster at the bar, so buy her a Mango Tango and drag her off the patio bar and inside because dancing with a cougar is never a bad time.

Our reputation precedes us. Combine South Florida's status as a destination for tourists from around the world with its claim to be the United States' leading playground for "the lifestyle," and bingo! A nightly stream of erotic adventurers from Europe and South America pack the dance floors and the clothing- and inhibition-optional back rooms of this Broward club, the region's longest-running swingers establishment. It's a pricey venue (entrance requires a membership fee, plus nightly user fees of $15 to $75) but to practice your Spanish or German with native speakers in the most intimate of situations, Trapeze can't be beaten (unless that's your thing).

Michele Eve Sandberg

For those of a certain age, it can take some doing to think of the Kennedy clan without Vietnam and that Bad Day in Dallas. But "Camelot" — the Kennedy mystique of sun-gold young men and women on sailboats, clam bakes on Cape Cod, touch football on autumn lawns — that lives on like a hazy summer dream. Football, touch or otherwise, at this downtown West Palm Beach boîte has so far been seen only on its large-screen TVs. But for clam bakes, sub the raw bar stocked with fresh mollusks daily, and for golden people, scope the stream of sophisticates who are tired of the rowdy end of Clematis Street and take refuge inside Camelot's nautical-themed confines. There's a dance floor and a revolving selection of live musical entertainment: jazz, nu disco, reggae, and the occasional pop-up show. Younger Palm Beach types venture here from their privileged island enclave. Are they drawn by the air of an age when noblesse had oblige?

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