901 Progresso Drive, Ste. 101, Fort Lauderdale. Visit here.
"Basically, this is a Fort Lauderdale bar without all the frat boys and douches that you see on Himmarshee these days," said Pat, who is the financial backer and one-third of the hipster triumvirate behind Laser Wolf, SoFla's coolest new chill zone. (He's also written a bit for New Times' food blog.) He's lean with light stubble and legendarily large hair. "I guess what we're going for is 'cool hangout.' "
I noticed that the small indoor space was positively packed full of dudes with straightened hair and pretty young things in skinny jeans. Behind the bar, a DJ grabbed from a huge stack of vinyl records and spun unique tunes that I will never be able to name, let alone recognize, ever again. A few feet away, a couple was proceeding to swing-dance in the narrow space -- and more than once came close to knocking down some of the drinkers nearby. Members of the buzzing crowd all seemed to be familiar with one another -- evidently, Laser Wolf comes with a pack of instant friends.
"Where's my sake?" shrilled a small, sprite-like brunet. She was probably the most blitzed person in the room, and her query was traveling that fine line between "polite question" and "alcoholic accusation." "Who's seen my sake?!" No one had. I stepped aside to clear her warpath and took a look around: The walls running parallel to the bar were an eye-catching amalgam of colors, contours, images (notably, eyes and hearts), and words (such as will you remember me and first kiss). The place was low-lit; the predominant light source was the warm, red glow of the "open" sign. A few chairs sat scattered around. I could not help but notice a presence of Mylar balloons and also a bakery tree with sprinkled cupcakes on it.
"It's Sarah's birthday today," said Pat, pointing to a lovely dark-haired woman in red lipstick.
"Come to think of it, we've had quite a few parties here since we've been opened -- it's been like a Chuck E. Cheese for hipsters." Before I could snatch a delectable-looking cupcake, Pat pulled me outside and introduced me to Chris, one of his partners and the on-duty bartender. Chris took the opportunity away from bartending to relax and smoke a cigarette.
"So, what do you guys serve to drink here?" I'd been previously unable to get close enough to the bar to find this out.
"Craft beers are big, so we're trying to focus on that," said Chris.
"I like your bar," I said. "It's interesting."
Chris took a drag on his cigarette. He was one of those guys who looks really cool smoking. "We're trying to build the kind of place we'd want to hang out." He nodded to the crowds of young people congregating around the building, all of them bathed in the sunset-orange glow of the "open" sign. "Plus, it's not a bad gig -- after all, we get to drink on the job."
I let Chris get back to work and paused in the archway leading to Laser Wolf's somewhat-hidden front door.
"Tell me why, tonight, you're here, of all places in Fort Lauderdale." I was talking to Dominique, a dark-haired absolute knockout sporting cute black boots. (Dominique, I was told, in addition to being absolutely beautiful, is a lawyer who works to give the "power back to the people." Charming, right?)
On the spot, Dominique glanced to a nearby bush. "They have great foliage."
"You pick your bars based on shrubbery?" I asked. Nearby, a couple was ferociously making out. We paused and considered this for a moment.
"The music is comfortably original," she said eventually. "Also, I like that 'cliquey' and 'vibey' are frowned upon here."
"What the hell does 'Laser Wolf' mean?" I asked her.
"Have you seen the bathroom?" she asked.
Two minutes later, I was inside the bathroom, and Dominique was guarding the doorway.
The right wall had been painted with a fantastic mural depicting ferocious-looking wolves with lasers shooting out of their heads. I repeat: Lasers. From. Their. Heads. It was breathtaking. A giant shark had been painted on the wall against the toilet, amid scrawled splashes and artistry that made it appear as if it were emerging straight from the toilet's tank.
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"That is frickin' sweet," I said to Dominique as I exited the bathroom and made a beeline for the bar.
Yeah, they spin sweet tunes; yes, craft beers rock; but Laser Wolf's heart comes from the fact that it's populated by people who are way too cool for you but are nice enough to let you hang out with them sometimes. Also, do I need to reiterate that it has a mural of laser-shooting wolves in the bathroom?