Best of Miami®

Best Of 1999

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  • + North Miami
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  • + Out of Town
  • + Outside South Florida
  • + Palm Beach County
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  • + Pembroke Pines
  • + Plantation
  • + Plantation/Sunrise/Tamarac
  • + Pompano Beach
  • + Pompano Beach/Deerfield Beach/Coconut Creek
  • + Riviera Beach
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  • + Sweetwater/Westchester/West Miami
  • + Tamiami
  • + Unknown
  • + Upper Eastside/Miami Shores/Biscayne Park
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  • + Weston
  • + Wilton Manors
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Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

Best Low-Rent Bar

In 1937, about ten years before Hickey joined the other misfit dreamers in the saloon of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, El Toro Bar opened. Old-timers testify that the gin mill was a swell place in those early days, full of sunshine and happy anglers who hoisted brews and spewed fish tales after a day on the bay. In the years that ensued, though, the El Toro devolved along with the neighborhood, becoming a shabby (but still embracing) cave where ol' Hickey would've felt at home. The oak bar is pockmarked. The white acoustic-tile ceiling has been smoke stained to a cheap-cigar brown. Oddly placed mirrors hang slightly askew on the simulated-walnut walls, making the lines of the room appear tilted even to sober observers. The video slot machines wear grimy faces, the crimson tablecloths on the tiny tables emphasize the redness of the nose of the clown gazing from the faded circus poster over by the pool table. The bar's current owners promise change, including a new name (the Office). They promise live music, a menu of fresh bar chow, and dart tournaments with cash prizes. But for now El Toro retains a gloomy atmosphere appropriate for nursing some schnapps and a grudge, or for lounging comfortably with fellow negativists, all properly lubricated and hunkered down together, bemoaning whatever harsh stroke of fate sent them here and together beginning a long night's journey into day. You can park safely in the rear just past the sign that reads "ParkingVegetables" and beneath the commanding billboard that warns, "Winners Don't Drink and Drive."

Best Bartender

"My bartending skills? Yeah, sure, everybody gets a glass," quips Warren, known variously as "Butch" or "Beamer." So modest. Twenty years at the Taurus and you figure he's got the fundamentals down. But sitting opposite this drinkslinger is anything but routine. He has turned the skill of bartending into the entertainment of improv theater. Every day he transmutes into a different character of his own imagining. A random stop at the Taurus on a Tuesday evening finds him wearing a sign reading "Happy Infant Safety Week." He's sporting a long-eared Goofy hat, a pacifier dangling from each of the ears. Two pairs of eyeglass frames are perched on his nose. And he has bandages, crossed in a cartoon-style X, on his cheeks. "I found my proper niche in life," the 63-year-old exults. "Where else could I make a living doing what I do and not be locked up?" He's a former actor who found bartending more suited to his tastes. "Here I can be an actor every day." He consults Chase's Calendar of Events to come up with a theme for the day. The week before his infant-safety incarnation included Audubon's birthday. For that Warren wore a bird hat and bird mask. As he scans ahead to the next week, he becomes excited by the prospects, including the Kentucky Derby, Togo Independence Day, and Tourist Day. "After a long day at work, people come in and see me and pretty much leave the seriousness behind them," Warren notes.

Best Bartender

"My bartending skills? Yeah, sure, everybody gets a glass," quips Warren, known variously as "Butch" or "Beamer." So modest. Twenty years at the Taurus and you figure he's got the fundamentals down. But sitting opposite this drinkslinger is anything but routine. He has turned the skill of bartending into the entertainment of improv theater. Every day he transmutes into a different character of his own imagining. A random stop at the Taurus on a Tuesday evening finds him wearing a sign reading "Happy Infant Safety Week." He's sporting a long-eared Goofy hat, a pacifier dangling from each of the ears. Two pairs of eyeglass frames are perched on his nose. And he has bandages, crossed in a cartoon-style X, on his cheeks. "I found my proper niche in life," the 63-year-old exults. "Where else could I make a living doing what I do and not be locked up?" He's a former actor who found bartending more suited to his tastes. "Here I can be an actor every day." He consults Chase's Calendar of Events to come up with a theme for the day. The week before his infant-safety incarnation included Audubon's birthday. For that Warren wore a bird hat and bird mask. As he scans ahead to the next week, he becomes excited by the prospects, including the Kentucky Derby, Togo Independence Day, and Tourist Day. "After a long day at work, people come in and see me and pretty much leave the seriousness behind them," Warren notes.

Best Club Dj

It's been some time since a DJ called Sugar Dick worked the decks in South Beach haunts such as the Whiskey, Sinatra Bar, and Barrio. Rene Lecour has dropped the Dick, kept the Sugar, and continues to expand his reach. Along with his spinning at Bar Room on Wednesdays, the Living Room on Fridays, Liquid on Saturdays and Mondays, and Chaos on Sundays, there's Sugar's Tuesday-night gig, Home Cookin' at Groove Jet, the pièce de résistance of his schedule. On that night Sugar gets out of the booth and puts his turntables in the backroom to cut, scratch, and lay down tracks behind his Afro-Latin ensemble, the South City Funk Mob. Joining Sugar in the Funk Mob are a pair of percussionists, a horn section, and any number of musical guests who stop by and contribute to the freestyle jams. And in these "God is a DJ" days of techno, drum and bass, new rave, rock and rave, house, hard house, progressive house, posthouse, and trance, this turntablist says his favorite stuff to spin is "anything soulful." Sweet.

Best Club Dj

It's been some time since a DJ called Sugar Dick worked the decks in South Beach haunts such as the Whiskey, Sinatra Bar, and Barrio. Rene Lecour has dropped the Dick, kept the Sugar, and continues to expand his reach. Along with his spinning at Bar Room on Wednesdays, the Living Room on Fridays, Liquid on Saturdays and Mondays, and Chaos on Sundays, there's Sugar's Tuesday-night gig, Home Cookin' at Groove Jet, the pièce de résistance of his schedule. On that night Sugar gets out of the booth and puts his turntables in the backroom to cut, scratch, and lay down tracks behind his Afro-Latin ensemble, the South City Funk Mob. Joining Sugar in the Funk Mob are a pair of percussionists, a horn section, and any number of musical guests who stop by and contribute to the freestyle jams. And in these "God is a DJ" days of techno, drum and bass, new rave, rock and rave, house, hard house, progressive house, posthouse, and trance, this turntablist says his favorite stuff to spin is "anything soulful." Sweet.

Best Neighborhood Bar/Central

The burnished wood interior, the power-suited clientele, and the eight-dollar cheeseburgers might seem to push JohnMartin's out of the realm of the neighborhood dive, but for those who live or work in the Gables and environs, this Emerald Isle-theme joint actually does serve primarily as the local watering hole. The Irish pub, founded ten years ago by John Clarke and Martin Lynch, delivers an abundant beer selection, stick-to-your-ribs food (the secret phrase is meat loaf), Irish music four nights per week, single-malt Scotch nights (mmmm), and the essential convivial atmosphere. It might seem that Gables financiers and attorneys are more welcome than others are, given the throngs of them knocking back a few during happy hour. The truth is that the plebeians of Gabledom enjoy hoisting a pint at JohnMartin's just as much as the next lawyer.

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Best Low-Rent Bar: El Toro Bar Liquors and Lounge

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