Bierbrunnen Pub
South of the conspicuous partiers, cheesy gift shops, and corporate chains like Fat Tuesdays that comprise much of Fort Lauderdale beach, is Bierbrunnen Beer Garden. It hides in an alley off A1A. The open-air bar doesn't shy at the Florida beach weather: no air-conditioning here. But when you grab your first cold one, it's as good as the ocean breeze that winds its way through the space. Enjoy a menu chock-full of bratwurst and an extensive beer selection that includes German imports like Warsteiner, Franziskaner, Spaten Oktoberfest, Erdinger, and Spaten Optimator and domestics like Smuttynose and Rouge Dead Guy Ales. You may be miles away from Germany, but more important, you'll feel miles away from contrived tourist traps.
Matty's on the Drive
So you partied too hard — again — last night. Your head throbs. Your stomach lurches. What's a committed nightlifer to do? Stop partying? Stop drinking? Oh, the humanity! Wait! Matty's on the Drive, a Wilton Manors bar with hot music, beautiful people, and a classy, laid-back vibe, holds the holy grail of healing in the form of its signature drink: the grape martini. In addition to containing antioxidants, grape juice packs the power to fight heart disease, high blood pressure, and other nasties that could seriously impair your sexy bod's dancing capability. And yeah, you might wake up the next day with a hangover — but it'll be the healthiest hangover you've ever had.
MI-VI Nightclub at Gulfstream Park & Casino
Prevailing economic forces would have you believe that you shouldn't spend money you don't have; that if you're not a rock or rap star, you shouldn't party like one. But there's another way to treat this moment in history: as an opportunity. It separates the true players from the pretenders. MI-VI in Gulfstream Park is a leap of faith in the resilience of South Florida's playa population. And we're happy to report that on a recent Saturday night, the foyer was totally jammed with slick-dressed revelers, all elbowing one another for the chance to get past the doorman, then to pay $13 for a splash of liquor. The club, on the second floor of Gulfstream Park's entertainment complex, opened in January. It's decked out with chandeliers, tables, and chairs that look like they were swiped from the castle of a French dauphin. The music somehow manages to sound crisp in a club space that could otherwise be an airplane hangar, which suggests that performances from the stage will also enjoy fine acoustics. Decadence isn't back as a South Florida trend, but it is within the walls of MI-VI.
Buccaneer Lounge & Liquor
This Pompano neighborhood bar is for storytellers. As the bartender will tell you, sometimes they're the same stories. You'll be the thousandth ear that's heard that Buccaneer regular, the middle-aged ex-yachtie or rabble-rouser, relate the time he got pulled over with rum and pot. Spoiler: The cop let him go — phew. But here, you're among friends. And you'll listen to him tell his story 1,000 more times if you decide to dock at this bar that also functions as a liquor store. Tucked away off Federal Highway in Pompano, in the back of a shopping plaza, the Buccaneer is as inconspicuous as a bar gets. The side that faces the plaza is a liquor store. The only way to get to the bar is through the store, or around the back along a small neighborhood street. Don't miss the small round window with the neon sign that reads "Bar." That's your only landmark. (Well, that and the door that's usually open.) Once inside, the mural will transport you to the islands. But good conversation and good stories will make you realize why you love the neighborhood again.
The Monterey Club
Krista F Leger
Not much lingers on that South Federal Highway route to Fort Lauderdale Airport, but near State Road 84 — right next to the skating rink — lies the Monterey Club. It's a joint built for folks who choose a night's location based on music. The bar stands out as a small music venue — it books both killer national and local acts and has a fully functioning sound system. Outside, hot rods fill the street (the owner has a 1950 Mercury Monterey), and inside, it's rockabilly retro. Cushy couches line the walls, and animal-print rugs decorate the floors. It's hard to get stuck on the absence of hard liquor (it adjoins a tattoo shop, so this might be a good thing), because they serve about 35 beers, including Dogfish Head, Brooklyn Lager, and Flying Dog as well as ciders and wine. Some nights, South Florida's best DJs spin; other nights, there's karaoke, burlesque, or swing dance. Now, along the barren terrain in the middle of South Federal Highway, there's a watering-hole oasis.
Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino
Courtesy of Gulfstream Park
It's all about betting beneath the beautiful blue skies of South Florida. Inside Gulfstream Park, you'll find the same type of things you see in all the (non-Seminole) casinos: a sea of slot machines, a few electronic blackjack machines, a bustling poker room, simulcast betting. But Gulfstream's recent renovation left it cleaner and newer than the other South Florida casinos. Right next to the track, you can patronize the massive development of new stores, restaurants, and bars. But the best thing about gambling at Gulfstream is betting on — or just watching, for that matter — the stunning thoroughbred beasts that race here. The horses are the finest and fastest in Florida. The facilities are immaculate. The jockeys are nothing but professional. On a nice afternoon, you can take off work early. You can finger through the program as you sip a cold $1 beer in the sun. You can watch the ponies galloping around the track. And if the air is clear enough, you can see all the way to the ocean.
Propaganda
The closings of the Bamboo Room and City Limits had left a gaping hole in the Palm Beach County live music scene before this quaint venue on Lake Worth's J Street swooped in. With the help of booking genius Steve Rullman, Propaganda offers lineups stacked three to four deep, often four or five times a week and regularly filled with up-and-coming local acts. It's an amazingly personal setting for national acts like Dashboard Confessional, Cracker, and Vivian Girls. West Palm Beach's blogger darlings Surfer Blood owes a lot to this Communist-themed club as well, cutting its teeth for months there before taking its show on the road. And, considering the spot's limited square footage, man, does its sound system pack quite the punch.
Big Bear Brewing Co.
C. Stiles
Sweet yet hellaciously bitter. Full bodied yet smooth. Drinkable yet ultrapotent. Big Bear's Double Diablo is both the devil on your shoulder and the angel sent from heaven. Double Diablo is the creation of brewmaster Matt Cox, who has fashioned a strong amber ale made from intensely rich caramel malt. That sweet base is balanced with a heavy dose of floral, bitter hops. The result is as tenacious as its name: rich, fruity, and piney. It's also deadly potent at almost 9 percent alcohol by volume. The beer debuted at the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival this January and stayed on at Big Bear's brewpub in Coral Springs for a couple of months after. Knowing Cox, the next batch probably won't come around until this winter. Heaven (and hell) will just have to wait until then.
Starlite Lounge
The Starlite Lounge is hidden in an indistinct Pompano strip mall, behind a bank and a Super 8, parked between a laundromat and an antiques store. Stepping through the door, though, is like walking into a dark, wonderful warp zone that combines all the comfort (and pricing) of a bar in 1970s South Florida with all the toys of today. Inside, you'll find clean pool tables, dartboards, shuffleboard, a Wii that begs to be played, a collection of flat-screens tuned to local sports, weekly live music, and a jukebox full of classics. The drinks are cheap and stiff, the colorful cast of regulars is warm and welcoming, and the small team of bartenders is attentive and accommodating. It's easy to miss, but once you've been, it's hard to forget.
Naked Grape Wine Bar
If your gay best friend bought a condo, this is what it would look like: an intimate room with sexy, low lighting. Red couches, black chairs, and a disco ball in the corner next to tasteful paintings of naked men. Hidden discreetly underneath the coffee table are games of Yahtzee and Monopoly and decks of cards. One back wall is lined with bottles of wine, primarily from small, boutique vineyards. The abundantly friendly waiter helps you read the menu by candlelight. After you pick out the perfect pinot gris, he selects the most delectable cheeses to go with it: one soft and tangy and French, another made from Parmesan spiked with peppercorn. Each plate comes with fancy little crackers, green olives, and spicy red peppers. The snacks are made in the tiny back kitchen, just large enough for a cutting board. You have to pass through the kitchen on the way to the bathroom, but you don't mind. Because this is your friend's house, after all, and he's made you dreamy with wine and cheese. If he's not careful, you might move in.

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