Best Neighborhood Bar, South Palm Beach County 2016 | Sail Inn Tavern | Arts & Entertainment | South Florida

The neighborhood bar is endangered these days, but a few have stood the test of time. At the Sail Inn, a crowd of regulars still shows up day or night, and some bartenders have been there for as long as 20 years. Ask for a round of "the coldest" grape bombs — ice cold beer mugs filled with grape vodka and Red Bull — and the barkeep just might peg you for a local. For many years this was a smoking bar, but owner Rick Jankee gave the place a complete overhaul a few years back. Today everything is shipshape, and there's even a new brass polished bar (and no more smoking indoors). These days, Sail Inn feels more special than ever — a small slice of Old Delray, a spot the throngs of tourists on Atlantic Avenue have yet to discover, and perhaps never will.

Readers' choice: Deck 84

Ian Witlen

Bucking trends has worked well for Fort Lauderdale's funky new kid on the block, Rhythm & Vine. Bringing something other than the smoky dives and ear-blasting bass of established spots on Himmarshee Street or the beach, the neighborhood beer garden and cocktail bar on the corner of FATVillage is a more relaxed watering hole. Manager Bobby Velez, formerly of the infamous, high-volume Bleau Bar at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, has helped develop R&V into more than just another place to get hammered, with yoga in the garden, movie screenings on the projector inside, weekly live music "buzz sessions," and a rotation of party-starting resident DJs. R&V's eclectic programming fills a void in Fort Lauderdale's one-note nightlife scene. With its edgy, laid-back space, killer cocktails, and visiting food trucks slinging grub, it's the perfect spot to party from day to night. "Broward County and Palm Beach were screaming for a place like this," says Velez.

The Sports Corner is a dive bar in every respect. It's dark, it's dingy, and it has an air of danger. The black walls lined with TVs and sports memorabilia shut out sunlight as well as the existence of any world separate from this black hole. Oftentimes the secondhand cigarette smoke is so thick, it's almost certain you're going home with a black spot on your lung. And yet... it's the perfect haven for the hardcore sports nut. While there are certainly nicer options around South Florida — the Ale Houses, the Duffy'ses, the Bru's Rooms — there is none with as much personality. The bar's website looks like it hasn't been updated since the place opened in 1997 (or at least since the death of MySpace) — and that's part of the charm. It's not fancy, and we love it that way. Here, you can drink like your dad and yell at the television screen, tell your favorite players what overpaid jackasses they are, and engage in drunken debates with other belligerent sports-dad types over a game of darts, pool, or tabletop shuffleboard.

It's among the most aggravating of first-world problems: you put hard-earned quarters in the side of the table and come back from the bar to find two dudes enjoying a game of pool on your dime. You want to tell them they owe you $1.50, but most likely you just stew silently and sip your Bud Lite — and vow that next time, you'll head to the Billiard Club tucked away upstairs in the Oasis at Sawgrass Mills, surrounded by preteen mall rats. Gone are the days of placing your quarters in the side of the pool table and waiting for the next game, since here you pay by the hour. With well over a dozen tables, there's almost always one open. They have a full liquor bar and charge no cover on UFC fight nights.

Readers' choice: Blondies Sports Bar

Kristin Bjornsen

As far as dive bars go, alcoholics everywhere could do much, much worse than Elbo Room, where more often than not there isn't much, well, elbow room. Most dive bars are run-down shit-holes in crummy neighborhoods, but Elbo Room is a run-down institution on one of the most prized pieces of real estate in Broward County, where Las Olas Boulevard meets the beach. The first floor is often cramped and overflowing with sunburned drunks, and that's part of the appeal! Opened in 1938, this venerable bar owes much of its success to its sunny corner and to being featured in the movie Where the Boys Are (which launched the spring break phenomenon). Bathed in an Art Deco façade on the outside and lined with a rustic, woody Key West feel inside, Elbo Room hasn't changed too much in its almost 80-year history. Modern day shenanigans include drinking contests, spring break bashes, and live music. Save the uppity hustle and bustle for South Beach. Like a wicked hangover that won't quit, Elbo Room hangs on.

Readers' choice: Original Fat Cat's

A graybeard in the world of SoFla kava bars, the Purple Lotus, 11 years along, is where many a local first tried euphoria Polynesian style. Proprietor Jimmy Scianno, a serious student of kava and kava culture, has weathered (kratom-related) controversy and seen his enterprise expand to locations in South Beach and Delray Beach. But the original remains a favorite, and not just for the exotic beverages and chill South Seas décor. The whole block it occupies has a whimsical air and a storied past. The fortune teller next door has moved on, but the very cool Evernia Coffee House has moved in a few doors away — to a space that in the early '90s housed the Artsbar, a landmark of local alternative history. Dixie Highway is a sleepy two-lane street here; sit and sip in the Lotus' sidewalk chairs and watch the world flow by.

Angel Melendez

With the abundance of choices for nightlife in West Palm Beach, it's somewhat surprising that there's a dearth when it comes to the LGBT scene. It may not be Miami, but the struggle to find a quality gay bar in Palm Beach County shouldn't be so real. Thankfully, there's H. G. Roosters. Established in the mid-'80s, what makes H. G. Roosters such a delight is the perpetual activity. Every single night features a different form of entertainment: Monday bingo, Tuesday pool tournaments, drag shows on the weekends, Sunday karaoke, and so on. Despite the incessant busyness, though, the atmosphere couldn't be more relaxed, with nary a hint of pretension in the air. In addition to late-night happy hour on Friday evenings, the drinks are stupid cheap, and the bartenders couldn't stop smiling if they tried. Featuring hours made for night owls (the bar never closes before 3 a.m.), H. G. Roosters has partygoers up until, well, the rooster crows. And speaking of which, all you need to know about this place is in the marquee. When a gay bar has an animal in its name closely related to the slang for "dong," you know it doesn't take itself too seriously. That right there is an indicator of fun times.

Readers' choice: Rosie's Bar and Grill

Queerly beloved, we are gathered here today

To witness the fact that there exists not a single dedicated lesbian bar in this county,

Which is an unholy outrage in a city like Fort Lauderdale.

Who can name a place for women who love women to go for a drink

Without being surrounded by sausage, plagued by penis, choked by chest hair?

We mean not to offend those with chest hair, or those who love the D.

But for God's sake, bring back New Moon,

Lest bed death do us in.

(Runner-Up: A Bottle of Wine in Your Living Room)

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.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of