Best Bar Reconstituted (1999)

1800 Club

It was a dark day in June when creditors and city regulators forced Ira Cohen and his son Danny to shutter the venerable 1800 Club. Long a favorite watering hole of scribblers, flatfoots, and politicos, the 1800 Club was a noir cave of a bar with all the comfort of a living room but half the light. A year into their lease, the Cohens' questionable management, epitomized by the manager himself disappearing to Vegas for almost a month, took its toll. By late spring the waitresses had mutinied and quit en masse. The Ader family, which has owned the bar since William Ader, Jr., built it in 1955, refused to walk away from the joint. They brought in Richard Mixon, who supervised a hurried overhaul in an attempt to reopen by November in time for basketball season and the clientele drawn to nearby Heat games. The kitchen was steam-cleaned. Workers sandblasted 40-plus years of nicotine off the walls, instantly rendering the place twice as bright. Mixon made his deadline, but the NBA went on strike. Nonetheless patrons began to trickle back. Eventually basketball's moneyed players returned to their hardwood floors. The 1800 Club was back in business like a hack reporter with a freshly sharpened pencil. We breathed a sigh of relief and ordered another round.


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