Hollywood Vine

Look, I'm no sommelier. I've never been to Wine Country, and though I might typically opt for a bottle in the $10 to $15 range, I am certainly not above a trusty five-buck Chuck. Some evenings call for a quiet night in, when that first sip of chilled Pinot instantly slackens all the day's tensions. Other occasions require something more refined—elaborate chalkboard menus; dim bauble lighting overhead; a steady, hushed chatter over the tinkling of smooth jazz. And still other times call for a visit to your regular neighborhood spot, the place where the staff will just as readily recommend you a great glass of Cab as a new punk band to check out. In downtown Hollywood, that neighborhood spot is Hollywood Vine. Part wine bar, part retail space, the laid-back watering hole on Harrison Street also doubles as a venue for parties, fundraisers, and other special events. In addition to the 600 competitively priced wines selected by store operator Steven Krakow from all over the world, Hollywood Vine also stocks spirits, artisan cheese, beer, and gourmet foods, and it hosts free tastings every Tuesday featuring guest speakers on topics like regional wines and food pairings. But what really makes the place stand out is events like a pop-up record store where vinyl lovers congregate to trade wares and exchange stories (Sundays, quarterly), or an "un-"cooking class with Raw Chef Carla (monthly).

Readers' choice: 33rd Street Wine Bar

The Blind Monk

The Blind Monk opened in downtown West Palm Beach nearly six years ago. The wine and tapas bar has European-style outdoor café lighting, a long glass coffee table filled with corks, and a floor-to-ceiling wall of wines from around the world. It's a connoisseur's paradise—but it's also welcoming to those of us who choose wines based on price or what animal is on the label. The selection is not as massive as a big box liquor store, but there are always about 30 wines available by the glass, making it easy to experiment with brands, regions, and years. Over the course of a few weeks or months, owner Ben Lubin (a certified sommelier) and his manager Lauren Samson (also a certified sommelier, who's in charge of the wine program) rotate the selection. Whether it's a Malbec from the southwest of France or a Pinot Noir from Oregon, the Blind Monk will always have something remarkable on hand, guaranteed.

ROK:BRGR Burger Bar and Gastropub
Candace West

Drinks are good and all, but it takes a greasy burger or a salty fry to truly make your happy hour happy. Let's face it, no one's going to order a salad with their jack and coke. ROK:BRGR takes classic bar food to the next level by adding some flair. Different snacks include beer-battered onion rings with jalapeño as well as fries with cheese curds and brown gravy. Fourteen handcrafted burgers include the Fat Elvis, garnished with peppered bacon, peanut butter, and local strawberry jam. The standards are rounded out with chicken and waffles with candied bacon in addition to a short rib grilled cheese. Satisfy your cravings on a Saturday night out, then follow that with a Hangover Sandwich—an over-easy egg with maple pepper bacon, sriracha aioli, cheddar cheese, tomato, and avocado—at Sunday brunch (when mimosas are free for ladies, BTW). The bar uses farm-fresh local ingredients... but let's not kid ourselves; there's a breakfast mac and cheese on the menu.

Tucker Duke's Lunchbox
CandaceWest.com

We have evolved. As beer drinkers. As carnivores. As overall human beings. We crave complex flavors and beverages our ancestors would never have dreamed of experiencing. Tradition is fine, but we must also make our own paths. Thankfully, Tucker Duke's Lunchbox is bulldozing new tastebud roads that should take us into the year 2075. Besides carrying the craziest and newest local craft brews, they offer treats and dishes that make eyes burst just reading about them. Fried PB&J Bon-Bons, pork belly sliders, smoked beef brisket sandwiches, bacon-topped delights, and most popularly, their signature Tucker Duke burger (which cooks refuse to alter because you're wrong for trying to mess with perfection). We swear, scanning up and down the Tucker Duke's menu is a treat in itself. Sometimes after you order, you just want to keep it as reading material while you plan your next trip.

Riverside Market
Rod Deal

Riverside epitomizes the basement bar hangout in an area where basements don't exist. Although most restaurants have begun to offer craft beer, the Market still does it best with coolers stretching across the walls, tempting shoppers with more than 500 different beers from all across the world. The self-service is key to the experience; walk up, stare intently, and agonize over which to pick. Then snag it, open it yourself, and take a seat like it's your own living room. Pizzas and sandwiches pump out of the kitchen, so there's something to go with your can of White Oak Jai Alai or your draft of Dogfish Head World Wide Stout. Always be on the lookout for a sighting of Julian's Secret Stash, the owner's select offerings of unique and rare beers.

Funky Buddha Brewery
Photo by Doug Fairall

Can a brewery be both a beacon of culture and a regional captain of industry? Surely. Funky Buddha continues to be a craft beer powerhouse, bringing bold and bombastic flavors all the time. An imperial barrel-aged Maple Bacon Coffee Porter? Yes. Red ales with raspberries and just enough habanero peppers to make your tongue sizzle? Hell yes. Buddha's beers make headlines across the country and throughout the world, and its beer festivals have gotten so big they've had to move to Jaco Pistorius Park. Being so busy, it's amazing that they were able to install a kitchen this year... meaning that there's never really a reason to leave the brewery anymore.

Copperpoint Brewing Company
Photo by Dan Coya

Copperpoint has only been open for a few months, but the experience of owner and head brewer Matthew Cox spans over 15 years. Since its inception, the brewing company has created clean and balanced beers but also flirted with sometimes exotic ingredients. It's created a foundation of beers like the Copperpoint Lager, a crisp and bready amber beer that takes six weeks to mature—an investment that pays off in taste. But it's not afraid to get inventive: the brewery has a surprise hit with the creamy and chocolatey B Rabbit Espresso Stout, a beer that South Floridians can't seem to get enough of, even during the height of summer.

Saltwater Brewery
Photo by Doug Fairall

Murals of hand-painted ocean scenes wrap Saltwater's taproom, which is built out of an old feed store west of downtown Delray Beach. The bar, made of reclaimed Dade County Pine, stuns with its rich color and warm embrace. Huge stainless steel fermenters tower behind the bar in a space that lets the scents of mash waft throughout. Dark couches in one corner allow comfortable conversation to occur, while a table shuffleboard lets competition fly. Let's not forget the outdoor space, an open-air extension of the taproom with huge tables, a grass lawn, and a drink rail all its own. When the weather's nice, it's not surprising to find the outside more crowded than the inside. The beer being made here doesn't hurt either.

Specialty Beer Cellar
Photo by Doug Fairall

When drinking American craft beer gets boring, Specialty Beer Cellar in Jupiter is the place to go for the best that Europe has to offer. They don't carry every mass-market beer pumped out of a Heineken factory, but they do boast an amazing lineup from across Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, and beyond. From beers like St. Feuillien Tripet to WychCraft English Bitter to Schlenkerla Urbock Rauchbier, there's always a unique and interesting beer to be had. The location is a cross between a beer store and a bar, carrying a wide variety of packaged beers and a strong inventory across 16 draft handles. Dark wood furniture, poured concrete, and bricked walls complete the illusion that you might be in a small beermonger's shop down a cobbled street in Antwerp.

The Brass Tap
Photo by CandaceWest.com

Ahhh, yes. The craft beer conundrum. We love the fact that we don't have to drink Budweiser anymore, but we hate that it costs an arm and a leg. The Brass Tap must be aware of this problem, because it's fixing it for us. Chances are, while you're reading this, the Brass Tap is running a drink special — and not some crusty-old Ice House bucket deal, but actual specials on beers you want to drink: $5 local pints, half-off growler fills, all-you-can-drink blowouts... A scroll down the beer bar's Instagram page will result in all the information you need to know. If you're pinching pennies but don't want to sacrifice that coffee porter you enjoy so much, hit the Brass Tap.

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