Just before midnight on a recent Saturday, my two good buddies and I walked through the valet lot, gawked at the impressive collection of Ferraris, and moseyed into the ritzy W Hotel. Past the lobby's sleek white couches, giant glass vases, and two-story fountain, we found the doors of swanky hotel bar Whiskey Blue. It's a cross between a high-end, bells-and-whistles nightclub and a laid-back, vacation-vibe lounge.
The pop music was deafening, and a sea of beautiful people lapped at our feet. This looked like it could be a good place for a stiff drink, a hookup, and to meet some interesting out-of-towners. No better place to liquor up some beautiful tourists than a ritzy, glitzy, sexy hotel bar.
Ambiance inside: Whiskey Blue's only been around for a couple of months, but it's already attracting a healthy crowd of hotties. The air conditioning seemed to be set to "arctic." The surface of the bar was curved and smooth, and scores of blue lights hung from the ceiling like tiny, glowing stalactites. Between the neon lights and steel-gray interior, the place evoked "futuristic industrial cave." The majority of the available seating was on giant, round couches, which set partiers with their backs to one another. Not optimal for bantering, flirting, or even social drinking but very optimal for watching the hot little bartenders saunter through the crowded room in their tight, all-black outfits complete with thigh-high boots. This late-night club seemed to want to be more of a lounge, but that didn't prevent people from spontaneously dancing on any available floor space — leading to serious crowd congestion at times. At midnight, the noise was too much for any real conversation, but people seemed content to just sit, watch beautiful bodies, and swig back cold cocktails. My male companions made efforts to procure beverages from the bar (each taking turns yelling in the bartender's lovely ear), and eventually we set off with a couple of Maker's Marks.
Ambiance outside: We found the outdoor patio deck much more relaxing. The long couches and red wicker chairs were actually facing one another, for starters, and the music was at a much lower decibel level. Potted palm trees ornamented the premises, candles and lanterns dotted the tables, and the fantastic view of the ocean (right across the street) was the club patio's crowning adornment. I relaxed in a chair clearly reserved for someone more important, listened to the music (an R&B song overusing Auto-Tune), and pawed through the specialty-drink menu (an impressive selection of rum punches, martinis, and daiquiris). The place was pretty packed, and I found the clientele was a muddle of all ages but pretty similar in appearance: hot, tight shirts on the gents, skinny jeans and stilettos on the ladies.
By this point, a remix of a remix was playing over the stereo, and my buddies informed me that they gave the music a thumbs-down.
"Is that Milli Vanilli?" exclaimed one. "The music's a little — ehhh, 1997."
"The sound system isn't great," complained the other.
Just then, a remix-blend of "Caribbean Queen" and "Billy Jean" came on, so I had to disagree. But first, I lip-synched all the lyrics at them.
The manager on duty — Grant, who was tall and wore a slick earpiece — when pressed, described the place as "casual-sophisticated." He explained that Whiskey Blue is owned by the Gerber Group. Rande Gerber, Cindy Crawford's hubby, runs the place, and Whiskey Blue's grand opening a few months back drew a handful of celebs (including Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian). Gerber Group also owns bars in New Orleans, Cancun, and Madrid. "There's also a Whiskey Blue in the W Hotel in New York," Grant added.
"Chic," I said. "Is this a tourist spot?"
"Mostly locals," he said. "It is offseason..."
Full moon: "Do you know what phase the moon is?" I returned to find my buddy, who, at his request, I will refer to as "Selenophobe" (the word means someone with serious moonphobia), asking the waitress, Shannon, this very question.
"Well, last week we guessed it was a full moon because people were really crazy," Shannon mused. I thoughtfully stared at her rack in response, but Selenophobe was not satisfied. He turned to a girl on a nearby red wicker chair and politely asked her about the phase of the moon.
She squinted at him. He abruptly turned back to us.
"She didn't know," he said bitterly. "Don't all girls know stuff about astrology?"
"Yeah, their ovaries are controlled by the moon," volunteered Beard, my other companion.
On behalf of my ovaries, I rolled my eyes. "If it was a full moon last week, it's probably waning."
Selenophone wasn't listening; he was busily punching at buttons on his iPhone.
"Speaking of seeing the moon, did you see that girl's dress?" he nodded over his right shoulder. "Cut just a little too low in the back."
Tourists: I set off to prove Grant wrong — I could find a few tourists somewhere. I approached a broad-shouldered blond man standing alone in the center of the room.
"Hi, are you a local?" I asked.
"Well, I live in Hollywood," he began in a thick, dashing accent. "I sell medical equipment, and I'm only here for the next six months. Then I go home to Switzerland."
"Climate here is a bit different," I mused, busy trying to formulate a joke involving cheese and neutrality.
"The warm weather here is nice," he said. "And the girls take better care of themselves over here. Or they show more." He gestured at my legs.
Back at our table, Beard and Selenophobe had not solved the mystery of the moon when Shannon returned with a $16 Ketel One and tonic for Beard. Selenophobe looked cranky.
Unrelenting in my quest to meet foreigners, I asked her, "Since this is a hotel, are you waiting on anyone from out of town? You know, actually staying in the hotel?"
"I only get about one of those per night," she said. "But I've got some Canadians tonight. Right behind you."
She barely finished her sentence before I was on my feet. Canadians are rare these days, and I wanted to get some ehs out of them before they took off on their ice skates.
"I'm here because Tragically Hip played in Fort Lauderdale," Brian, a dark-haired, broad-shouldered Canadian, drunkenly told me. "Tragically Hip is the most patriotic band in Canada. Don't you guys have patriotic music?"
"This is the U.S.," I said. "Everything's patriotic. But especially Toby Keith singing about putting boots up people's asses."
"I love country music!" Brian said, slinging his arm over my shoulder. He was from Calgary.
"Hey," said Brian's blond, also very broad-shouldered cousin, James.
Eh and hey sound remarkably similar, and I might have mocked him thinking he said the former.
"We're in business together, and that's why we're in Florida," said James.
"Family business?" I asked.
"No, but I could see our partnership ending in a family feud," James said wryly.
"So, do you play hockey or anything?" I asked.
James smiled. "Yes, we both did at some point."
"Did she just say Canadians are assholes?" Brian called from a few feet away. "Does she think I'm a prick?"
"No," James called back.
"At least admit I'm a good-looking prick," Brian called to me.
"Brian's having a great time in Fort Lauderdale," I observed.
"Oh, he's not going to remember this 'great time' in the morning," James said.
Well, I would. I might forget engagements, arrangements, and birthdays, but I do remember sexy folks, classy décor, and smooth drinks. The W Hotel's reputation for a sexy, wild time (complete with hot foreigners and expensive drinks!) certainly didn't disappoint, but in retrospect, it might have just been the full moon.