If you take your beer seriously, you take Guinness seriously. And if you take Guinness seriously, you take the way it's poured seriously. Advertisements for Guinness claim that "it takes 119.6 seconds to pour the perfect pint" of Ireland's famous stout. That might come as a surprise to many local bartenders, who pour a Guinness with the same quick hand they use to pour a Budweiser. But a fast pour of Guinness creates a cloudy pint that never quite settles -- a mortal sin in the world of Guinness drinkers. A bartender with Irish in his heart knows that a true Guinness pour -- known as the "slow pour" -- requires two stages: First, the bartender pours three-fourths of the pint while the glass is at an angle. He waits about a minute for the beer to settle, then pours the remaining one-fourth. That creates a beautiful pint of black-as-night beer topped by a creamy brown head. For style points, bartenders will sometimes use the beer tap to create a design (often a shamrock) in the beer's head. Such bartenders are hard to find in South Florida, but you'll find an entire colony of Guinness experts at Kavanagh & Morrissey's in Plantation, on Pine Island Road near I-595. A charming pub and restaurant with vaulted ceilings and an interior straight out of the Irish countryside, Kavanagh & Morrissey's offers great food, good company, and a wide selection of beers. But most important, at Kavanagh & Morrissey's, you're guaranteed to get a perfect pour of Guinness. If you're lucky, it might even come with a shamrock on top.
The primary ingredient of a bloody mary isn't hair of the dog, but it should be. After all, what better time is there to drink a bloody mary than when it's daylight and you're still hurting from last night's no-holds-barred partying session? The folks at Buzz's Lounge in Sunrise know better than anyone the powerful tonic created when you mix vodka, tomato juice, lime juice, and a few olives. That's why there's no better place in South Florida for a Sunday-morning bloody mary than Buzz's, which offers $2 bloody mary specials all day Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. At Buzz's, an unpretentious bar at the end of a nondescript shopping mall, the bartenders are warm and friendly, and the drinks are cold and stiff. What more could you ask for on a hungover Sunday afternoon?
Of the roughly 50 martinis available at Swig Bartini, a classy nightlife spot in Weston Town Center, any one is good enough to win this Best Of. "The Swig" ($11) -- a classic, just-as-Bogie-would-like-it martini with Grey Goose, vermouth, and three large olives -- is as good as any martini gets. But due to style points, this year's Best Signature Cocktail has to go to Swig Bartini's "Marilyn Monroe" ($10). A martini as red as the Hollywood vixen's lips, the Marilyn Monroe features Absolut Citron, a splash of cranberry juice, and a hint of lime, champagne, and, for a final touch of Tinseltown class, a strawberry on the rim. A sweet-tasting champagne martini, the Marilyn Monroe will have you ready for a night on the town -- or just a night at Swig Bartini, whose brick walls and modern interior can make you feel like you're in the middle of Manhattan rather than in the middle of Weston.
Yucatan Mexican Grill
We've studied the South Florida margarita scene for a long time. It's a sad, lonely pursuit. There's the place that serves margaritas flavored with exotic fruits, like the prickly pear (boring). There are joints that pump out phosphorescent-looking frozen margs, distinguished only by their high alcohol content. And there are bars that just don't know how to make a marg, like the fancy Boca joint where they squeeze so much lime and lemon juice into the mix that you get a bitter aftertaste. But then we go back to the Yucatan. Most of the margaritas there -- a menu column's worth -- are leavened with Cointreau and Grand Marnier, as well as the restaurant's patented sweet-and-sour mix (and no, it's not bitter). The Golden Margarita starts out with Sauza Comemorativo; the Yucatan Margarita uses Sauza Tres Generaciones. All use fine añejos, and all cost around six bucks, though you can get a twofer during Happy Hour, 4 to 7 p.m. Close your eyes and you are drinking in Mexico.
Culture Room
Photo by Monica McGivern
Could there really be any other choice? For almost a decade, the husband-and-wife rock-star team of Greg and Sharon Alliferis has run this midsized venue as if it were a major-league ballroom. They regularly pack the house for big names and offer a solid sound system and friendly service to smaller fries, both important elements in creating a buzzworthy club. In 2005, though, they really honed their focus and put together a consistently eclectic, exciting roster of shows, including the Killers, Soulive, the Extreme Music Festival, Railroad Earth, and Reigning Sound. The décor is all black and perfectly sparse, kind of like a blank palette for the music, and bands tend to step up and offer topnotch performances thanks to the room's iconic history. From death metal to bluegrass to local faves to national headliners, there's no better place in South Florida to rock the hell out.
With a scene that's becoming increasingly incestuous, purveyors of local nightlife put us to task this year in determining any sole winner in this category. Having chosen collective status over individual stardom, Fort Lauderdale's Phoenix crew -- just one of a few groups that now call local venue Roxanne's home -- has put to bed the notion of marquee DJs, opting to supply eclectic music and culture to a Broward community jaded by Himmarshee Street. Comprised of a blend of scenesters -- including drum 'n' bass maestro Sean Weeks, Poplife mainstay Ray Milian, and burgeoning Lauderdale DJ Andie Superstar -- Phoenix bears the imprint of the Brothers Alexander but is growing sturdy enough legs to distinguish itself from the Crush milieu. Weeks, specifically, is an anomaly in this indie-centric scene, having spent the past half-decade spreading frenetic jungle beats through his nights at Karma and other SoFla locales. Yet somehow, the Chicago native has found a comfortable fit in a group more likely to break it down to DFA and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah than Metalheadz. But Weeks is just one component of a well-oiled machine, and with veterans like Milian on board for the ride, Phoenix Fridays thrives thanks more to a fiercely talented collective than to any single luminary.
Round Up Nightclub & Restaurant
When a place is as far south of the Mason-Dixon Line as South Florida, its slow dancing should pack a little boot, scoot, and boogie. Round Up, which boasts one of the biggest dance floors in the county, is the perfect place for the city slicker set to cast off his Yankee rigidity and learn a whole new way to move across parquet. For the small price of a $5 cover fee, Round Up will teach you the basics of two-step and then turn you loose. Unlike many dance ballrooms that banish newbies to the wall to wistfully watch the preternaturally gifted pros whirl and strut, Round Up focuses its attention on the shy novice with two left feet. At 7 p.m. daily, wannabe rug-cutters line up for a gentle line-dancing lesson, and on Thursdays and Saturdays, couples can remind themselves of the basics of the two-step, swing, and cha-cha from 8 to 9 p.m. But Round Up is no playpen -- experienced hoof-shiners have plenty of space to preen and mince on the spacious floor. Good thing four full bars ring the dance floor, making it easy for a novice stumbler to refill on a little liquid courage before giving it another go.
Strip clubs usually stick to a basic formula: stage + pole + alcohol + naked chicks + free buffet! So what makes Scarlett's Cabaret the best? "It's almost like going to a concert," one fan says. "The music, the lights, the fog machine!" The consensus seems to be that other strip clubs either fall into category A, wherein the girls think they're too hot for the clientele, thus making the whole experience disappointing and frigid, or category B: just plain skanky. Scarlett's fills the comfortable niche in between. "The girls are fun," says... well, everybody. Which includes the couple from Jacksonville that was leaving at
7 a.m., the drummer who was supposed to be playing a gig across the street but could not be dragged away from the girls, and a couple of yacht captains who had just spent all their money, proving for the ten-hundred-gazillionth time that boobies make men do dumb things.
The needs of pool players are few: a quality table, cheap beer, and a place to smoke. George's brings all of that right to your dexterous little hustling hands. There are ten pool tables for the standard game, along with two pocketless billiards tables for those who understand why there's a table without pockets. The tables are nicely spaced, so you aren't bumping ass with your neighbor or poking holes in the wall with the butt of your cue. The dim lights and great service make it a relaxing atmosphere to shoot some eight-ball or nine-ball. Classic rock plays at a respectable level from the jukebox, unless the young waitresses get ahold of the remote; then it's time for the top-of-the-charts remix. But either way, the $1 Bud Light drafts make up for it. From the bar, regulars drink and watch your game carefully and wonder if you're worth their time. You probably aren't, but what the heck -- rack 'em up.
Led Zepp tattoos, handlebar mustaches, and skullcap bandannas: That kind of biker symbology you can find just about anywhere. What really counts at a biker bar worth the title are two fundamentals: babes and brawls. Nothin' Fancy's girls are the real thing: tanned and leathery with wind-beaten, low-lidded stares that look straight through you to an asphalt horizon. On Saturday nights, one gal is stationed at the door to welcome you off your hog with a winsome smile and a rusty wink, and by the time you've gotten yourself a seat beneath one of the bra bouquets that dangle from the ceiling throughout the bar -- all C or D cups, rest assured -- a different hoary venus is by your side, pressing her twin helmets into your chest and making sure your tank is full. As for brawls, Nothin' Fancy has the finest: In 2004, it made the news when a patron attacked three customers with a baseball bat, only to be stopped cold when one of them, a permit-packing gun-toter named Kevin Kelly, shot him in the stomach at point-blank range. The attacker, John Nicol, later got off scott free when a Palm Beach County jury acquitted him of aggravated assault and battery, which means he can belly up to the Fancy bar any one of these nights. You can't get much more authentic than that.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of