Lips
Christina Mendenhall

"You walk in here, it's like Barbie fucked Beetlejuice," quips drag-show hostess Diva about the cabaret establishment Lips, where the disco balls outnumber the queens and performers boast such sophisticated monikers as Twat LaRue. It's Friday, and it's time for the late-night revue. Diva informs those easily offended by bawdy humor, "You've just been fucked out of a cover charge." She circles the room, endlessly singling out targets for questioning. But watching your friends squirm to avoid Diva's merciless interrogations of their sexual history and anatomy is only half the fun and accounts for only a fraction of the show's raunch factor. Bring lots of bills, and not just of the $1 variety. These ladies may call one another whore, but they're not cheap whores.

Alligator Alley's booze selection is nonexistent. But you won't need shots, because the Alley's beer selection is kickin'.

There are two brews from Unibroue, those incomparable Canadian brewers. There are Caribbean ales. Key West ales. Triple-fermented craft beers. And the bar food is prepared with an attention to detail and inventive flair that's hard to find at other watering holes. Fried oyster poboys are better than much of the competition in New Orleans, and mind-bending spicy gumbo is cooked to secret specifications in ten-gallon batches.

Yet it's not the beer nor the food nor even the Alley's reliably great jazz and rock music that make it so spectacular. It's the place itself. Go in, drink, and eat and you'll meet some of the coolest heads around. Old session musicians who'll riff on their glory days with Buddy Guy, science fiction writers, painters, psychedelic visionaries — all just sitting around, shooting the shit, treating the place like a second home. For lots of us, it is.

UPDATE: This location is now closed.
Georgie's Alibi
Ian Witlen

Sometimes you want a bar with a generous selection of top-shelf liquor and tasteful décor without the pretensions of a dress code. This is South Florida, after all, and you live here because Reefs are appropriate footwear pretty much everywhere. Georgie's Alibi in Wilton Manors boasts three polished wooden bars with marble countertops, good booze, and awesome specials, including $1 domestic longnecks on Wednesdays and $2.50 margaritas on Mondays. A Wheel of Fortune-type contraption on the wall dictates what additional specials will be at various designated times. Floor-to-ceiling television sets seem to rotate Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, and Madonna music videos. But if sensory overload brings out your Baudrillard-esque paranoia, you can move out to the patio tables. You won't be able to stare at the cute barback, but so goes barhopping.

America's Backyard

When the powers that be decided to renovate the underused outdoor patio at Revolution Live and reinvent it as a permanent pool party, they went long on fun and short on pretension. They hired tiny, clean-cut, young barmaids; adopted the tagline "Grillin' and Chillin' "; built the center bar as a replica swimming pool; and narrowed the musical set list to highly singable mainstream anthems. Should you pop in at America's Backyard for happy hour (4:30 to 9 p.m. Friday only) straight after work, don't be too anal about your nice J. Crew outfit, because you are highly likely to get caught in the crossfire of the bartenders' water-balloon fight. Said bartenders (dressed like lifeguards, down to the board shorts or bikini tops and whistles) will make it up to you by passing out free drink tokens as freely as Halloween candy and by putting three or four straws in those giant, bucket-sized fruity cocktails. You know this is a place where things regularly veer out of control because they feel compelled to have a whole "Lost & Found" page on their website. "Good morning!" it says, knowingly. "You had a lot of fun last night, huh? So what did you lose; cell phone, keys, a present, a friend, credit card, shoe, camera, boyfriend, your panties, your pride?"

Nippers

Education is important, so cheers to learning in classrooms, and cheers to learning in bars — near FAU classrooms. And cheers to the never-ending lesson of learning one's self. Mull the following questions over discounted drinks at Nippers any time from 3 to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday. Is "happy hour" a marketing scheme designed to get you drunk? No, wait, put down the drink and listen for a moment. Are you supposed to be getting drunk during these hours? Hey, don't throw that empty glass in this direction. OK, you're heard: The only thing that matters here is being smart and saving money, and Nippers lets you do both.

O'Malley's Ocean Pub

It has been said that O'Malley appeared on Hollywood Beach after the hurricane of 1926. Accounts vary as to where he came from: Some say he drifted ashore, some say he arrived by boat from the Bahamas, and some say the real story is much less interesting. One thing is certain — it doesn't matter. O'Malley's Ocean Pub is a place where the worries of everyday life just wash away. It might be the fact that it's located on a busy stretch of Hollywood Beach — outdoors but at the same time covered and protected from the sweltering sun and unpredictable rain. Or it could be the variety of frozen drinks, double-shot mojitos, and low-priced, all-day refills served in carved coconuts. Maybe it's the bevy of televisions tuned to every sport available and the collections of people eagerly watching their fantasy teams on laptops thanks to the free WiFi. Most likely, it's a combination of these things and the fact that more locals and regulars populate O'Malley's than you'd expect at a busy beachside bar, proving it's not a tourist trap or fad like so many other bars littering the beach.

The stretch of Dixie Highway from West Palm to Boynton Beach is a wonderland of dive bars: the Office, Harry's Banana Farm. But the Little Owl Bar is the coziest, with its mix of blue-collar Budweiser drinkers and the Lake Worth progressive set (you shall know them by nose rings or dangly earrings). The Owl's dark main room, sticky floors, old pool table, and flickering TV are always welcoming sights, whether you're here to suck down a longneck on a hot summer day, attend a Food Not Bombs potluck, or watch your favorite all-girl punk band play (Go, Angry Pudding!).

Ed & Elaine's Tiki Hut
Ian Witlen

And you thought you were in the know when you discovered Le Tub! Ha! This place is so low-rent that it doesn't even have walls. There's no door, no sign, no cash register — just a thatched-roof hut decorated with bric-a-brac and a couple of tables nestled right on the shore of the Intracoastal, hidden just south of the Dania Beach pier. Whiling away hours at this gem of a hangout is just like chilling in a buddy's backyard... if your buddy had a backyard minus a house. Owner Ed Colville opens from noon until dark, or whenever he feels like it. He need earn only enough to pay taxes on his little scrap of land. Ed will be happy to grill you a hamburger if you bring some (he doesn't have a food license) or get you a beer out of the fridge he keeps in his shed ($3 for a can, $4 for a bottle). But most of all, he seems to enjoy hanging out here with his family and his dog, loving life and watching the boats pass by. That, and telling dirty jokes to his visitors.

Dear Margarita,

We’ve been seeing each other for some time now, and I think we’ve reached a point where we should solidify our relationship. I know I’ve been seeing other cocktails — playing the field, so to speak — but I blame that on capricious youth. They never loved me the way you do; they just wanted my pocketbook and a one-night fling. It seems I always wind up back at Le Tub, searching for you. I think it’s time we became exclusive. When we’re together, the stars align and we communicate on a higher, less verbal level. I become hypnotized by the way the humidity clings to the side of your casual yet elegant plastic cup. Then you fill me with a warm, tingly feeling as the moonlight slides across your salty rim. You always leave me wanting more. Le Tub Margarita, please consider me a long-term suitor. After all, you complete me.

Banish from your mind those newfangled "martinis" sold in the trendy bars by unscrupulous mixologists. You know the ones. Their active ingredient is vodka, and all kinds of weak boozes have been added to the mix to make them taste like Key Lime Pie or an espresso or an Almond Joy. These drinks are often pretty, and they are often tasty. But they are only "martinis," never martinis. A real martini is a pre-Prohibition gin drink with an unapologetically booze-ish flavor. To try one, go to href="http://bovaristorante.com/">Bova Prime on Las Olas, for there they serve a mighty example of the form. Bova is as upscale as any restaurant on the boulevard — a full meal, plus cocktails, could easily run you $100 — but you'll feel as dapper and happy as any diner if you stop by for just a single Hendrick's martini. Yes, they've got Hendrick's — that wonderfully crisp, cucumber-infused gin in the thick black bottle that looks like it came from an old-world archaeological excavation. They serve it diluted with just a tiny bit of ice water from the cocktail shaker, which emphasizes and excites the gin's rose-petal overtones till they seem to skitter across the tongue. Order mostly dry with a cucumber garnish and discover how good booze can taste when it's not busy tasting like something else.

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