Nectar & The Wrecking Ball, inside Coconut Creek Casino
5550 NW 40th Street, Coconut Creek.
Call 954-977-6700, or visit here.
The Coconut Creek Seminole Casino gets a little (OK, a lot) overshadowed by the Hard Rock. But with its recent construction-themed addition (approximately 16,000 new square feet of gaming, dining and drinking), Coconut Creek is poised to put itself on the map as a party spot in its own right. Though, if you ask the local 20-somethings, it has been all along.
The Site: Tattoos wound up and down every inch of his long, sinewy arms and a crooked cap sat on his head. He stood looming at a $100-a-hand blackjack table, staring down the dreadlocked dealer. Three young, bosomy Latina girls clustered at either side, sipping their drinks and letting out intermittent whoops - depending on how the betting was going.
His hand showed a 15.
"Should I hit?" the tattooed man - referred to as "Tats" from here on out - asked.
"The book says you're supposed to hit on a 15," the dealer answered amiably.
"I will kill you if you bust us," one of the girls told the dealer.
"Don't say that," Tats told her in a low voice.
"We'll kill you, Joseph," the girl continued, swirling her drink and smiling at the dealer. "Follow you to your car!"
She erupted in a high-pitched peal of laughter.
"She doesn't mean it," Tats told the nearby pit boss, before quickly hitting. He busted just as quickly.
The three girls let out despondent screams.
Such is life in the Coconut Creek's new tent-like expansion - a sprawling gambling room known as "The Site," replete with kitschy construction décor and waitresses in short-shorts, work boots, and hard hats. Its self-contained bar - "The Wrecking Ball" - has a big black wrecking ball fashioned into the side of the wall, complete with crumbling plaster. Above the card tables are diamond-shaped construction signs sporting blocky outlined silhouettes of dealers and cards. Whistle Stop - the restaurant with an actual lunch truck inside - has two orange barrels at the entrance.
"Where else would you like to spend the last hours of your 20s?" I asked.
My accompanying friend, whose 30th birthday was the next day, had come to drown his sorrows in liquor and luck.
"They have fried Oreos here," he said, glancing at Whistle Stop's menu, mostly deep-fried and/or carnivorous fare.
"A good accompaniment for bourbon," I observed.
Meanwhile, nearby, Tats was still eagerly dropping Benjamins. The skinny jeans on one of his gal pals had ridden down to reveal a neon pink thong, and the whole spectacle had attracted a group of grizzled male onlookers. The girls, plied with fancy cocktails, were also growing louder -- emitting ear-splitting shrieks every few minutes.
"Are they winning?" I asked a tubby dude to my right. He was busy staring at a certain pink thong.
"Not really," he said distractedly. "But they're young...having fun..."
"Fun shouldn't be so expensive," I said.
"They do know what they're doing," the guy amended. "Sort of."
"How much luck is involved with this game?" I asked.
He looked at me, deadly serious. "None."
Tats looked up, ready to change tables.
"I know why you guys are staring," he announced to the onslaught of spectators. "It's because I'm gorgeous!"
Nectar: Exiting the Site (and all its spectacles therein), fried Oreos and bourbon in hand, my friend and I worked our way through the snaking mazes of slot machines, all with corny names like "Zeus," "Amazon Princess," "Gusher," and "Mighty Miner," tables, and psychedelic circus-like carpet (c'mon, you know casinos always have weird carpet) until we'd arrived at Nectar.
Nectar is a classy bar (if such a thing exists in a casino) nestled deep in the heart of good-old-fashioned card playing, among electronic roulette and those creepy video blackjack machines. Candle-lit, with glowing red and pink hued shelves, squarish modern art behind the bar, and sprawling, dark-wood bar, it's actually a stylish sort of spot, if you can ignore the audible dinging of slot machines and the nonstop clacking of chips.
I ordered myself a boozy beverage and chatted up Julia, the bartender. Julia was beautiful in that timeless, radiant way - wholesome, effortless.
"What's the deal with The Site?" I asked her.
"It opened on December 17," she said.
She was then immediately distracted by an older man with a bald pate, who grabbed and smooched her dainty hand.
"You must get hit on a lot," I said.
She laughed modestly. "That guy is a regular, he always kisses my hand. But..yeah. You just go with it after awhile."
By the time I caught up with my friend, he was up $140.
"Next round's on you," I said.
" But it's my birthday - almost," he protested.
The Wrecking Ball: We decided to make a final round at The Site. My friend hit the tables, and I situated myself beside three beautiful young people at the Wrecking Ball bar. None of them looked a day past 17, but they were sipping on bottles of beer, so I can only conclude they were of an appropriate age.
Heather was the kind of petite that girls like me can only dream of. Chloe was dark-haired with piercing green eyes. Stephen was dark-complexioned with strong jawlines and a firm handshake.
"You guys winning much?" I asked casually, repressing an urge to scream I'm young and hip, too!
Heather laughed. "We don't come here to gamble," she said. "We only come to chill. And drink."
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"This place - Wrecking Ball - is new, so we've only been here a few times," Chloe said. "But for young locals, Nectar is always the last stop at 4 a.m., after the clubs close."
"I used to come here a lot for their 5 cent beer special," said Stephen. "Don't know if they do that anymore, but I do know this: You come here late at night on a weekend, and this place is packed. Absolutely packed, all with people in their 20s. It's awesome!"
Feeling like I'd been let in on a little locals' secret, I smugly abandoned the bar to weave through the clutter of blackjack tables until I found my friend. Across the room, I could hear a certain trio of alcohol-induced shrieks. My friend was sitting next to an older man with shaky hands who continued to bet (and win) $200 a hand. On his other side, a slightly older woman (with a much-younger boyfriend) looked over at the pit boss. She nodded in the direction of Tats, and commented on his girlfriends: "Those girls are too young to know that $200 just isn't that much money."
Well, maybe not, but they do know one thing for sure: $200 buys a lot of drinks.