Music News

Night Watch: YOLO/O Lounge

YOLO, 333 East Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.

Call 954-523-1000, or visit here.

Actually, YOLO ("You Only Live Once"), its adjoining bar called the O Lounge, and VIBE are all owned by the same bunch of guys (who must have a thing for capital letters). Despite its name, YOLO is not the place I would opt to spend the final hours of my only-once-occuring-life. Still, I see no reason to hit it up occasionally from time to time, especially since it boasts potent drinks, a large outdoor patio, and a fire pit.

A crescent moon gleamed through wispy clouds and a crisp breeze rustled the dress shirts of the young professionals - one of whom still had his name badge clasped to his pocket - drinking nearby. The patio was landscaped with bamboo stalks shooting up from rock gardens, palm trees wound with white lights, and green outdoor carpet. A bald man lounging on a sleek red couch took a drag on his cigar. A middle-aged woman tied her small, yappy dog to a chair leg. Soft rock droned on quietly, mostly ignored and unheard.

While the black-and-red, chic indoor dining area seemed to be emptying a bit, the indoor/outdoor bar was packed full of single men, nose-to-nose couples, and a handful of old-timers. It wasn't long before a bleach-blond waitress in black knee-high boots and the shortest dress ever marched over and offered to bring me a drink.

"In your opinion, what should I be drinking?" I asked.

The waitress, Michelle paused. Her sun-kissed face folded into a fleeting thoughtful frown.

"The Strawberry Kiss, definitely," she decided finally. "It's got fresh strawberries...Grey Goose vodka...lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, black pepper..."

"Is it very alcoholic?" I asked.

She blinked at me. "If you mean strong, then, um, yes. Very."

"Sounds good," I said. She wiggled off to fetch one and I picked up the menu to inspect. Of course YOLO is home of the Devil's Hammer, a potion so potent that the menu restricts its consumption to three per night. Other tempting night caps include the cleverly monikered Scarlett "O" (a mix of Southern Comfort, cranberry juice, and fresh lime); the taste bud-tasering pineapple chili margarita (pineapple, tequila, red jalapeno, and cointreau); and the dessert-tastic sounding Almond Joy (Stoli vanilla vodka, Malibu rum, Godiva choclate liqueur). Also worth mentioning is the $16 "martini flight," which comes with three pairs of martinis served in a martini tree.

Two dark-haired Latina women sitting nearby told me the restaurant was really close to our work, so they could walk over for drinks often. "And the outdoor ambiance is great," said Lourdes. They weren't crazy about the cocktails but said accommodating bartenders had actually whipped up a sangria for them, even though it wasn't on the menu.

I can tell you one thing: their Strawberry Kiss cocktail? It's excellent. It comes in a tall martini glass with a fresh strawberry impaled on the rim. The taste is sweet and citrusy, with a nice kick of crisp vodka. Also, I was able to imbibe it alarmingly quickly, gingerly set the glass on a table near the roaring fire, and scamper off to chat up two carefully dressed gents who were both smoking good cigars (disclosure: they smelled good, but I'm no judge) in mere minutes.

Clint had piercing brown eyes and a shaved head. He was much younger than Joel, whose head was bald save for the shaggy white hair that curled around his ears.

"We work like, ten feet away from here," said Clint. He complained that YOLO was "not what it used to be." According to him, the place used to be packed with young business professionals meeting for drinks, "But now look - it's mostly old guys having dinner with their wives." That was not entirely true, but I took his point. He looked across the courtyard and mused that all the young people were now going to VIBE instead.

"It's also a big hassle to smoke cigars these days," Joel said, exhaling a cloud of smoke. "They send us to sit outside of O Lounge, over there, where you feel like a leper."

"Yes, we're constantly being moved away from people eating dinner," Clint said. "That was never a problem before, but...Rocco's Tacos is opening down here soon, and we're hoping they have a outdoor patio so we can smoke cigars."

Michelle stopped by to pick up some empty glasses.

"Well, at least your waitress is hot," I said, raising an eyebrow to Clint and Joel.

"Michelle is awesome," said Clint. "She's always nice, great to deal with - and yeah, not difficult to look at."

"Don't tell me, I'm already in love with her," I said. Michelle laughed to herself while busily scooping up dirty dishes.

"And the drinks are good," said Joel, with a huge smile. He raised is glass. "Grey Goose on the rocks - and I like it!"

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Tara Nieuwesteeg