"How many bars are there?" Jim asks before we embark. "Seven? That's an easy night of drinking."
To test his liquor tolerance throughout the night, Jim agreed to be quizzed with a Trivial Pursuit question after each drink.
We start on the ground floor, at Sally O'Brien's Irish Pub. Like most traditional Irish pubs, Ms. O'Brien's serves frozen tropical drinks in a tent pitched just outside the main door. Jim takes a stool and orders a frozen margarita. It's the color of a blue Smurf, and it comes in a plastic cup with a straw. Jim frowns at the plastic and at the drink's initial taste. "Actually, to be honest, right now it's kind of affected by my freshly brushed teeth," he allows, "but it appears OK. I can taste the alcohol."
The sun is setting over the Atlantic. The bartender is attractive. Jim proposes we hang out here for a while. The request is denied. Reluctantly he slams his drink, incurring painful brainfreeze.
Q: Who claimed in 1980 to have concocted a perfume that would bring out psychic powers?
A: I don't recall the man's last name but his first name was Uri something or other.
Ding! We'll allow it. Uri Geller.
Jim, who seems to have done the BeachPlace pub-crawl before, suggests we proceed directly to the third floor and the Howl at the Moon Saloon. "We should go there first, because if we wait too long, they'll probably have a cover," he says.
Maybe on a weekend, but not on Tuesday night. We join only six other customers, none of whom is exactly howling along with a classic-rock cover band. Jim orders the house specialty, a 190 Octane. It's the color and taste of an orange Popsicle -- suspended in ouzo. "This is really, really strong," Jim proclaims. He looks toward the stage as the band starts into a Fleetwood Mac tune then back down at his frozen drink. "I can't tell you how fast I want to drink this, but I can't risk another headache."
Q: What movie's 1988 videocassette ads hyped it as "The most loved film of all time?"
As we head over to Howl's sister bar, Sloppy Joe's, we duck through a hallway lined with pictures of bikini-contest winners. Jim orders a rumrunner then turns his attention to a hockey game playing on ESPN. On the walls hang flags and grainy black-and-white photos, all attempting to replicate the feel of Key West. The drink arrives, and Jim takes a sip.
"Whoa!" he exclaims. "This is pure rum, dude. This one's going to be a tough one, I've got the feeling." Jim is a big guy, taller than six feet and weighing more than 200 pounds, but the combination of the rumrunner and the preceding 190 Octane are leaving their mark. He's not slurring his speech or anything, but he urges us to step up the pace less he embarrass himself before the night is over. We leave prior to the night's scheduled bikini contest.
Q: Who became the first U.S. female gymnast to win an individual medal at an Olympiad attended by the Soviet Union?
A: Phoebe Mills.
Instead of objectifying women at Sloppy Joe's, we walk over to ladies' night at Cafe Iguana. The place is a wake-up call. Alarmingly, they don't serve pre-made frozen drinks; Jim's margarita is just a standard margarita, presented in a salt-rimmed pint glass. He downs it on an outdoor porch overlooking Fort Lauderdale's thin beach. Inside the club an expectant ring of extremely thin women surrounds the dance floor. In a nightmare alternative to the bikini contest at Sloppy Joe's, Cafe Iguana commences a "hot guys" contest. We leave just as a guy who's "into surfing" takes the stage.
Q: What annually published book planted its first color cover in 196 years in 1987?
A: The Farmer's Almanac.
If Cafe Iguana woke us up, Hooters snaps us to full attention. And it isn't the orange-shorted waitresses. For the first time all night, we order food, or a platter of chicken wings that at least resembles food. And Hooters doesn't sell daiquiris or margaritas, which means a couple rounds of bottled beer. For Jim, a certified beer man, this is a welcome development. "I'm brought back to life!" he cries.
Q: What U.S. brand first marketed "dry" beer?
Ding! Get this guy a spot on Jeopardy!
Stepping down to the second floor, we noticed that a joint called LuLu's Bait Shack is not open yet. We look across the mall to Max's BeachPlace, a restaurant with a full bar that doesn't look particularly frozen-drink oriented. We decide to skip it. Instead, we step in to Adobe Gilas, the frozen-drink mecca. House specialties include the Gila Rita, the Picaro Peach, and the Kiwi Kiss. Then there's the Adobe Banana, which is advertised as "to die for." Jim orders two (to compensate for skipping Max's) and declares them both the best drinks of the night. "Now this is fruity!" he exclaims after his first sip. "It's like a party where everyone is invited.... Er, don't quote me on that one, OK?"
Q: Who won the most states in the 1984 Democratic presidential primaries?
A: Gary Hart.
Ding! Perfect score.
It's been more than four hours since we started the tour. Jim has downed five frozen drinks, one standard margarita, and two bottles of beer. Amazingly his trivia acumen is unimpaired. Because it's not yet midnight, we consider a trip to Riverfront.
Ultimately we decide otherwise; we've invested some 80 bucks already, and Riverfront consists largely of the same types of bars we've just visited. We depart in complete command of our faculties, trivial and otherwise. As Jim says, BeachPlace: It's an easy night of drinking.