Although we live in a cultural melting pot with a diverse, proud LGBT community, there's just one little problem: The majority of the gay bars down here are train wrecks in slow motion. Dated music (no, not "retro") and lack of age range (it's either 21-year-old power bottoms who lick the floor any pop diva walks on or your long-lost great-grandfather who keeps a large supply of kiddie porn in his basement — take your pick). All major turnoffs. But most worrisome is the lack of diversity. We don't know if it's the fear of speaking to new people or the fear of simply being yourself, but people-watching at a South Florida gay bar is straight out of Mean Girls. All cliques, all the time, and if you approach someone without an invitation, nine times out of ten, you get a "you can't sit with us" glare.
Thankfully, because of the volume of gays and gay or gay-friendly bars, there are some hidden gems among the muck and grime. These ten bars represent the best in Broward and Palm Beach counties and offer a little something for everyone.
10. Village Pub
2283 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors
Village Pub is the newest bar on the drive (next to the just opened Rumors, formerly Matty's), and coincidentally the most popular one too. Bars in Wilton Manors (and most bars in general) have a specific life cycle. A new bar opens, gains hype, some dedicated regulars, makes a profit, everything seems just swell. Then before you know it, a new bar opens up one block away,closing down the beloved, now "old" bar.
Village Pub is a strong contender to stay afloat on the drive, with daily drink specials, a ridiculous amount of video screens (they only use VJs), and an open layout that prevents any sense of claustrophobia, even when it's a wall-to-wall sausage fest. The music ranges from '90s classics to today's Top 20, and with dart boards, pool tables, and video poker machines, there's literally something for everyone here.
1620 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale
The specialty drinks may be a little on the pricey side, but they're made with top shelf liquor and fresh ingredients like mint and fruit. Anything muddled has us sold. The lounge is leaning towards upscale, but the drinks and food are reasonably priced considering the atmosphere you get in return.
8. Georgie's Alibi
2266 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors
Georgie's Alibi could be considered the bar that started the Drive. It has been a mainstay of Wilton Manors' gay scene for more years than us young'uns can count. The best night to come out on is a Thursday, where it's so packed that people spill out into the parking lot.
The venue hosts multiple shows weekly, including an exclusive performance from South Florida's own Dame Edna. If you haven't seen this bitch perform live, you're missing out. Big time. Seriously.
1508 NE Fourth Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Ramrod is basically the "Cheers" of Wilton Manors. There's something intriguing about bear culture that draws people in, whether you're a bear or not.
Cub, bear, otter, or anything in between, it doesn't matter; the moment you walk into Ramrod, you can sense a community. In all honesty, the bar is dark, there are gargoyle statues everywhere, and they play minimal house music that's so old that it's already on trend again.
Sure you might get hit on by an unwarranted polar bear, but no sweat. Just look into those big beautiful brown eyes, buried beneath thick black untrimmed brows, and say, "Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but I need a Cosmo, so get out of my way." Just kidding! You'd end up in a sling before you could say "ball gag."
6. H.G. Rooster's
823 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach
If you're one of the 10 gay people living in West Palm, your best bet is Rooster's. Karaoke on Sundays, Bingo on Mondays, and an entertainer's showcase on Saturdays. This little bar is your one stop shop for anything. You could always go to Respectables (which probs has a 50 percent gay population), but Roosters is that perfect neighborhood dive bar that you want to keep coming back to.