Here are SFGN's "Best of 2017" winners in the bars and clubs category in Broward County.
2232 Wilton Drive
Mark Hunter sat on the “everyday” side of his nightclub and mused about his newest accomplishment.
“It’s fun to build a business,” Hunter said. “Keeping it on top is hard work.”
For the third year in a row Hunters Nightclub won “Best Bar” in SFGN’s annual Best Of issue. Hunters was also voted best place to dance and best theme night.
“We do good business because we don’t mess with anyone else on The Drive and we try to be as inviting as we can,” said Patrick Volkert, co-owner.
Volkert and Hunter opened the club in December of 2013, taking over space previously occupied by “Boom” in the trendy Shoppes of Wilton Manors. The couple ordered a complete renovation and the club built its street cred by helping local non-profits and sponsoring recreational teams.
“It does help to give back to your community to stay afloat and when you are successful everyone comes to you for money,” Volkert said.
Hunters has teamed up with the Pride Center and Poverello to sponsor and host numerous fundraising events in Wilton Manors. Hunters also sponsors a softball and basketball team.
“He taught me all of that,” Patrick says pointing to Mark in reference to the club’s civic engagement. Mark, Patrick said, is the more diplomatic. He refers to his Wilton Manors club as a “boutique nightclub” – one that plays videos of Lesley Gore and The Coasters.
“He’s a clown that Charlie Brown,” Hunter sings as he rotates his hips and rocks in his chair to The Coaster’s hit song. The “everyday” section of the club is where one can watch videos, listen to music and meet friends in a tasteful and sophisticated setting.
Security guards often open doors for new arriving and departing guests and are instructed to wish patrons well. This policy, when first implemented, caught some in what was once a trailer park enclave of Fort Lauderdale by surprise.
“There were people who couldn’t believe someone would open the door for them and say ‘have a nice night,’” Patrick recalled. “And some had that look on their face like ‘fuck off!”
Sunday Tea Dance at Hunters was voted best theme night. Historically, the theme has its roots in the Hamptons where New Yorkers started festivities earlier in order to catch the last train back to the city for the start of another work week. At Hunters DJ Richie Rich runs the sound for Sunday Tea Dance with low tea starting at 6 p.m. followed by high tea at 8 p.m.
The dance floor section of the club has it all. Lights, fog, dancers, big screen projector and music to get your feet shuffling. Climb the stairs to get a glimpse of those sweaty dancers from Sal’s Starlight Lounge. The lounge is named after the late Studio 54 bartender Sal DeFalco, who helped Hunters open. A visit to the lounge during high tea is one way to fulfill Hunters' promise of “Spirits Elevated.”
As far as the club’s run at the top, Mark said it’s simply a matter of “paying attention to details.” He also credits Volkert and general manager Bruce Howe.
Best Bar for Lesbians & Best New Business
G Spot Bar
2031 Wilton Drive
Although it only opened eight months ago, G Spot Bar has already claimed the title of “Best Bar for Lesbians” and “Best New Business.”
Windy Fountain called G Spot a “little break” from life and a “place for the lesbian community” to come together. “When my girlfriend and I decided to go out we said, ‘let's swing by and check this new place out.’ So glad we did. What an amazing atmosphere. There was a perfect balance in every aspect from age range, ethnicity, to the music played by their amazing DJ.”
Angela Perkins called it “an amazing place” to hang out and have a few drinks. “Always something new going on and the atmosphere is nothing but love and acceptance. Loved it.”
Skip VandeLinde said he and his husband had a great time when they went there. “ but I'll tell you, my husband and I had one of the best nights out in a long time. Talk about a true friendly bar.”
Co-owner Lisette Gomez said that was her goal.
“That has been our mission from day one. A bar for women who love women and their friends.”
Long Island Iced Teas @ Georgie’s Alibi
Georgie's Alibi Monkey Bar
2266 Wilton Drive
In a new category this year, the Long Island Iced Tea at Georgie’s Alibi was voted best drink by readers of the South Florida Gay News.
Jeff Gapinski, General Manager for Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar Fort Lauderdale, said the drink has been a successful “gimmick” for the bar on Thursday nights.
“On Thursday nights we are known for our Long Island Iced Teas,” Gapinski said. “It’s a success and it’s stayed a success.”
Served in mason jars, the “teas” cost $3 a piece. They are made with well liquors. This special lasts from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“If made properly it’s supposed to represent an iced tea,” Gapinski said. “It tastes yummy.”
The Long Island Iced Tea is an alcoholic drink containing a mix of triple sec, tequila, vodka, rum and gin. Its standard garnish is lemon and is typically served over ice or “on the rocks” if you will.
When presented the drink should have an amber hue resembling tea. As New York journalist Paul Schrodt noted in a piece for Esquire Magazine, “It’s known less as a drink than a way of getting drunk.”
Best Gay-Friendly Straight Bar
Flip Flops Dockside Eatery
3051 NE 32nd Ave.
Flip Flops Dockside Eatery is proving once again it stays true to its values.
“We want our customers to feel at home,” the bar’s website said.
That core belief has helped the eatery become our best gay-friendly straight bar in Broward for the second year in a row. Sitting right on the Intercoastal, diners and drinkers get unblocked views of the water while they get comfy.
On top of the view, drinkers also get one of the most flexible happy hours in the area. With the option of $3 Beer, wells or wine all day Friday and Sunday and from 2-7 p.m. every other day.
“To me, Flip Flops is one of those places that is quintessential Fort Lauderdale and kind of a must go for anyone who is visiting from out of town,” wrote a Yelp reviewer.
The eatery also hosts a monthly T dance out by the water every first Sunday of the month and karaoke every Friday. With all those perks, the three-time category winner will put you in an island mindset no matter your orientation.
Best Happy Hour & Best Karaoke Night
Rumors Bar & Grill
2426 Wilton Drive
In a city where Happy Hour has become a necessity to keep customers coming in a crowded bar scene, Rumors Bar & Grill spirited away the award for “Best Happy Hour” from the competition for the first time.
Rumors’ daily Happy Hour specials include deals on Captain Morgan, Sky Vodka, margaritas, and domestic and import beers. “Love it on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Nice crowd. Can't beat the drink specials,” said Taira Lopez.
Wednesdays and Thursdays is when karaoke is held at Rumors. Like the “Best Happy Hour” award, this is also Rumor’s first time winning.
“First, the bartender was a good-looking tall drink of water. Then the happy hour. Add some fun karaoke and food along with new friends and the mix was memorable. Oh, I will be back and I hope the bartender remembers me from Thursday night, I was drinking Heineken,” Murrell Masengill said.
The food, made by celebrity Chef Robyn Almodovar, is also popular and often gets mentioned along with the drink specials. “Love this place. It's my favorite place in Wilton. Love all the bartenders there as well. They’re all awesome. Love the dollar drink nights and their food,” Jeremy Bolhover said.
Best Bar for Twinks
2345 Wilton Drive
Hiep Nguyen is a twink, but he says one of the reasons The Manor is such a good bar and club is the different kinds of LGBT individuals who party there.
Winner of “Best Bar for Twinks,” Nguyen says patrons of The Manor get a little bit of everything when they step through its doors. “I see a lot of twinks and a few daddy types. It’s actually a good mix for all groups of sub gays, as I like to call it. You get a little bit of everything, even lesbians.”
And there’s plenty of room for twinks and non-twinks to dance, he says. The Manor’s 16,000 square feet of multi-level, multi-room complex can accommodate up to 1,500 guests. “They’re very hospitable. It’s got a lot of space. I grew up in Wisconsin where the nearest gay bar and club is not that big.”
Danny Daniel says that space is unique amongst clubs here. “The ambiance and the music in the main room was absolutely sensational. It’s the one place where you can truly enjoy yourself from start to finish.”