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.

Round Up Nightclub & Restaurant
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.

Owned by Daryl Porter, local Catholic school boy gone pro NFL football player, this huge bar and restaurant has a lived-in, community feeling about it. At least a dozen television screens accommodate every seating angle in the bar, making it the perfect place to watch a game while downing a plate of baby-back ribs ($8.99 half rack, $14.99 full rack) or chicken wings ($6.50 for ten, $12.50 for 20) that come not only in hot but in varieties like jerk, teriyaki, and Hawaiian. When there's no game on, dance music and slow jams play from the overhead speakers, and regulars mingle at the bar top and around the pool table. Readers' Choice: Bru's Room
It takes ten minutes to squeeze through the dense crowd around the massive bar in Briny's Irish Pub (Pompano Beach) on a Friday night, when Crisis plays its regular gig. When you finally do get to the dance floor in the back, you find partiers bouncing to a pop cover of U2's "I Will Follow" and the 30-something foursome of Laz, John, Cory, and Paul jamming out on the platform above. There's something so deliciously average Joe, circa 1985, about the 3-year-old pop/rock quartet that it makes you feel like Jessie's girl secretly pining for the rockers who are serenading you. Your perspiring face, beet red from dancing, screams requests all the while. The boys are having so much fun that you can't help getting sloshed and letting them take you back to a time when rock music was more about cutting loose and less about hating your life.

Flossie's Bar and Grill
Kristin Bjornsen
Most bars fall into the tomb category. Black walls. Few windows, if any at all. Darkened booths. Low ceilings. Flossie's, however, is a paean to the open road -- and sky. First, it's tiki style, with additional benches and tables under a nearby oak tree where you can enjoy your $2.50 bottle of Bud or Miller or the like. The no-walls style is a hit with Harley riders, just the sort of clientele who never want to be too far from the smell of tar. Second, Flossie's is a stone's throw from I-95. The rush of traffic is reassuring to anyone with a get-up-and-go psyche, a constant reminder that there's a continuous black strip o' highway going from SoFla to NoCal, should the panic attack call for it. Last, this bar lies so close to the west end of the Hollywood-Fort Lauderdale Airport that you can smell the burnt jet fuel as the 747s take off. What might be nuisance noise to many is the welcome roar of wanderlust to some.

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