The idea seemed simple enough: Get a few guys together who had varied tastes in music, find a good bar, and put on a monthly dance party for the kids. And what started out as a simple Wednesday-night party at the Fox and Hound in Fort Lauderdale (4812 N. Dixie Hwy., 954-491-8869) last May turned into a monthly event local scenesters actually got excited about. Suddenly, Wednesday wasn't just Hump Day; it was an excuse to get rip-roaring drunk, bust a move, and possibly break something. And that's a good thing. Over the course of the summer and into the fall, Blowtorch, which is essentially a revolving-door DJ collective of anywhere from five to seven guys from the local music and art scene, lit up the Fox with R&B, punk, glam, metal, hip-hop, prog, industrial, Rod Stewart, Prince, 2 Live Crew, and Golden Earring. Yes, Golden Earring. If you can't find your dancing shoes the last Wednesday of the month, at least invest in a pair of drinking shoes.
i>New Times sent an operative to Dakotah 624, but reports that followed were clouded in a hangover. Apparently, the night began at this hipster bar, which seems plucked from the shores of South Beach, with a "Dakotah's bonsai pineapple" martini. It's one of those trendy cocktails made with coconut rum and vodka soaked so long in fruit that the concoction tastes like it came out of a Kool Aid pitcher. Things got cloudy after that. There was apparently a round of "the Jake" martinis, a gut-busting brew of tequila and Tabasco served in a glass dipped in Cabernet and frozen to look like an odd-shaped popsicle from hell. Then came the "twisted sister," which, unfortunately for our inebriated taster, did not feature Dee Snider. Instead, it's a tart blend of lime gin and lemon vodka. About this time, the bar crew came by to clear out dinner tables, making way for a dance floor that materialized SoBe-style. It's not clear what came next, but from the bill (martinis range from $8 to $12) and the chocolate stain on the reporter's notebook, it appears the night ended with a "white chocolate martini." That's a mixture of orange Stoli, amaretto, Godiva white chocolate liqueur, and powdered sugar, all in a chocolate-rimmed glass. It's enough to make any hangover a little sweeter.

Nibbling on nachos, watching muchachos,

20 kinds of tequila behind the bar,

Marg's by the bucket, stick a straw in and suck it,

No bartender will tell what the ingredients are.

Wastin' away again in Margaritaville,

Searching for South Florida's finest saloon,

Some people claim all margaritas taste the same,

But we found the best at Tequila Cancun.

Don't need no reason; we'll drink here all season,

With nothing to show but these salt-covered lips,

All of us foodies love Cancun's Tex-Mex booty,

Drink up; have some chips and a dozen more sips.

Two-for-one margaritas, with signature fajitas.

Soccer matches play on the satellite TV,

Alberto the owner always comes over,

says, "If you're not happy, the drinks are on me."

The Big Bear Brewing Co. is an oasis of tasty microbrewed goodness in a wasteland of Anheuser-Busch and Coors saturation. Their Kodiac Belgium Dubbel won a gold medal at the 2002 American Beer Fest, and the brewery has also earned a half dozen other national awards for fermented excellence since it opened in 1996. Brewmaster Matthew Cox has covered all the bases, offering ales in wheat and red, pale and brown, even a root beer for the kiddies and a Polar Light for the carb-counting or calorie conscious. They also alternate specials, shifting from different fruity flavors to Irish Stout and even an Espresso Cream Stout for the caffeine-addicted. If you're hungry, there's a full menu with pub fare and yuppified steak-house faves; a little bit on the expensive side ($9 for a burger and fries), but tasty nonetheless. You can tell you're in a brew pub from the décor: antique beer posters and black-and-white photos of the brewing process from back in the day. The best part about the Big Bear is that the staff is friendly and knowledgeable and that all the beer is made on-site. No need for born-on dates here; the beer goes from fermenting tank to serving tank, on to the tap and into your glass, then straight down your gullet.

So it's the Lord's day and your only chance to be free from waiting tables for those obnoxious out-of-town jerks who always want more salt, pepper, and a chance to abuse your fragile sense of dignity. So you want to get drunk and get weird. Well, there's really only one place to do it, and that's Voodoo. See, the place will not only sell you any drink in the house for $4 if you can prove that you work in the hospitality industry -- think check stub -- after 11 p.m. But it has some of the raunchiest, funniest drag material you have ever had the lowbrow opportunity to sit through. It's been doing the show for seven years, since even before the founders moved to South Florida from Rochester, New York, so the material has had time to percolate. Daisy Dead Petals hosts two drag shows, one at midnight and one at 2 a.m. The second is the raunchier one, so stick around.

Let's face it. Fort Lauderdale is a suburb no more. Thousands of condos are on the cusp of opening downtown, which means that driving will be impossible. That's good, because piloting while potted can land you either in the pokey or the morgue. Fat Cat's, which has picked up the Best Hamburger award in the past, is located on the eastern edge of the Himmarshee strip in a refurbished spot (a fire did significant damage a couple of years ago) just a block or two from hundreds of new condominiums and our favorite Lauderdale neighborhood, Sailboat Bend. It's a loud, sexy joint that boasts live music most nights, dollar drafts on Thursday, and true urban ambience. So hoof on over. Later, you can almost fall over onto your doorstep.

There's an easy way to spot an authentic Irish pub. It's by the beer-to-donuts ratio. Back in June of 2002, during the World Cup of Soccer, the pints at O'Shea's Irish Pub regularly got sticky from Dunkin' Donuts. Soccer fans and regulars packed the place for early-morning football, just as they do every other time of the day. Owner Maurice Costigan, a soccer player himself, designed the pub with an atmosphere similar to a watering hole in his native West Cork, Ireland. After games, he lined up shots of whiskey to celebrate the Irish victories. And this ain't no sports bar: There's a single TV over the billiard table. But then, O'Shea's has never been about anything fancy. During downtown West Palm Beach's heyday, oh, five years ago, O'Shea's was always an oasis of normalcy among Clematis Street discos. Now it's become something real, not far from the Disney-like perfection of CityPlace bars. It's still nothing more than a comfortable place to get a beer poured off the back of a spoon, play nine ball on the cheap pool table, and dig into a pastry-topped Guinness beef pie. Test it out next time there's early-morning soccer on the telly -- and bring donuts. Readers' Choice: Dada
It is early, and the crowds have not yet gathered. It is what they call happy hour, but the old man sees little obvious happiness here. He raises his drink to his lips. For a happy hour, it is very quiet. Quietness is good. You do not want loudness. You want the place to be clean and pleasant. You want the bartender to be pleasant, but you do not want her to talk too much. The bar is clean, with its long laminated counter. It is well-lighted, with little hanging lamps and curled-paper shades. There are neon highlights along the ceiling. There are hightop tables with stools, but the old man prefers the bar. There is music -- something by an artist previously known as the Artist -- but it is not too loud.

"Another one?" asks the pleasant but not-too-talkative bartender named Angie.

A group comes in and orders drinks. The men order something called a cosmopolitan. A pink drink that should be consumed by women, the old man thinks. The women order rum and Coca-Cola. Not the smooth Puerto Rican rum but something called Captain Morgan. A harsh, masculine drink. The old man shakes his head. If the bar were not so clean, he would spit on the floor.

"Another?" asks the bartender.

The old man shakes his head. Nada, he thinks. Now, he will have nada. Two of the bitter mixtures of gin and quinine water ($6.75 for both, at the happy hour rate) are enough. He is sufficiently steeped in gloom. But he will be back. He will return when he senses the necessity of drinking quietly in public during the happy hour.

Just when you were about to pour your partying days down the drain like a half-empty can of warm beer, Sonar emerges like the black-leather-clad temptress from your dreams and hands you a glass of dark red wine. You have been initiated into the next level of partying. The 5-month-old club is owned and operated by Inbal Lankry and her siblings, who moved down from New York City this year and transported a pocket of urban sophistication to South Florida. The white walls of the minimal, vault-like space stretch up toward a red ceiling, and the darkly dressed cognoscenti meander through a club they can finally call home. At Friday night's Vamp Party, DJs spin industrial, gothic, and new wave, including Pet Shop Boys, NIN, New Order, and the like. A recent visit by DJ Monk exemplifies the underground tone of a club that leaves the pack far behind.

Two hundred folks, 20 cowboy hats. That's a ratio of ten-to-one, which is just about as country as Broward County gets. From the corralled-in dance floor packed with couples spinning together gracefully, circling the line dancers kicking their boots up together in time, to the tight-jean-clad groups of youngsters sinking shots on the pool tables, this is the stomping grounds of Davie. You can still hear Garth Brooks and the classics, but this is the spot where the heart of country hits a turntable and "Funky Cold Medina" spins off with a twang, announcing that the Deep South has arrived in the 21st Century with undulating hips.

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