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.
The rock scene in Miami isn't exactly overwhelming. In fact it's barely even a scene. But alas there is Churchill's, that dingy, down-to-earth, ultra-British multipurpose pub so often lauded here. It's the place to catch surf-punk legends Agent Orange, experimental rock bands such as Melt Banana and Blonde Redhead, the balls-to-the-walls rock and roll of Nashville Pussy or the Belmont Playboys, the acoustic touch of Diane Ward, and the noise of Rat Bastard and the Laundry Room Squelchers (to name a few). Virtually every local band is welcome to play at Churchill's, and most do. None of which is revelation: Over the past five years, a period when there were other rock clubs around, the unpretentious spot in Little Haiti topped this category four times, with good reasons, including its huge selection of beers and bottom-of-the-barrel prices. The Church offers laissez-faire rock (and drinking and partying) at its grittiest. Proprietor Dave Daniels says that after 40 years in the entertainment business, a lack of musical philosophy propels Churchill's. "I don't like so much of the music, so I don't regulate it from that point of view," Daniels declares. And now getting to Churchill's may be even easier than ever. Daniels recently overhauled an English double-decker bus, and he says that given the right circumstances, he'll provide round-trip transportation for groups of fans.
The rock scene in Miami isn't exactly overwhelming. In fact it's barely even a scene. But alas there is Churchill's, that dingy, down-to-earth, ultra-British multipurpose pub so often lauded here. It's the place to catch surf-punk legends Agent Orange, experimental rock bands such as Melt Banana and Blonde Redhead, the balls-to-the-walls rock and roll of Nashville Pussy or the Belmont Playboys, the acoustic touch of Diane Ward, and the noise of Rat Bastard and the Laundry Room Squelchers (to name a few). Virtually every local band is welcome to play at Churchill's, and most do. None of which is revelation: Over the past five years, a period when there were other rock clubs around, the unpretentious spot in Little Haiti topped this category four times, with good reasons, including its huge selection of beers and bottom-of-the-barrel prices. The Church offers laissez-faire rock (and drinking and partying) at its grittiest. Proprietor Dave Daniels says that after 40 years in the entertainment business, a lack of musical philosophy propels Churchill's. "I don't like so much of the music, so I don't regulate it from that point of view," Daniels declares. And now getting to Churchill's may be even easier than ever. Daniels recently overhauled an English double-decker bus, and he says that given the right circumstances, he'll provide round-trip transportation for groups of fans.
You've spent hours sweltering on the sidewalk, climbing on a chair, hopping on a table, jumping up and down. At last you've made eye contact with the door gorilla/bouncer. As the crimson velvet ropes part, you thank the nightlife gods that your Versace suit is black. Better to mask the sweat stains dampening your armpits. Fork over twenty bucks, stroll through the doors, you're in. Swagger to the VIP room, where your buddy said he'd meet you. But which VIP room? There are three. You check out the front ground-floor area, where the artfully arranged couches artfully show no sign of him. You head to the back of the club, home of two more VIP rooms. He's not in the ground-level area, but actor Samuel L. Jackson, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and comedians Chris Rock and David Alan Grier are nonchalantly hanging out there. Soon you spot your friend on the second floor, high above the hoi polloi. He's smiling, sipping champagne, talking to, gulp, comely models/gorgeous actresses: Daisy Fuentes, Fran Drescher, Jennifer Lopez, all tilting back their heads while laughing at his jokes. The stocky sentry at the foot of the stairs eyes you suspiciously. He knows you're a no one. You protest: You are someone. Plus your friend upstairs is expecting you. Bouncer knows the drill: Everyone's someone. And everyone's friend is up in the VIP room. You offer him a Jackson, a Grant, even a Franklin. He doesn't flinch. You see, you may have the cash. You just don't have the cachet.
You've spent hours sweltering on the sidewalk, climbing on a chair, hopping on a table, jumping up and down. At last you've made eye contact with the door gorilla/bouncer. As the crimson velvet ropes part, you thank the nightlife gods that your Versace suit is black. Better to mask the sweat stains dampening your armpits. Fork over twenty bucks, stroll through the doors, you're in. Swagger to the VIP room, where your buddy said he'd meet you. But which VIP room? There are three. You check out the front ground-floor area, where the artfully arranged couches artfully show no sign of him. You head to the back of the club, home of two more VIP rooms. He's not in the ground-level area, but actor Samuel L. Jackson, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and comedians Chris Rock and David Alan Grier are nonchalantly hanging out there. Soon you spot your friend on the second floor, high above the hoi polloi. He's smiling, sipping champagne, talking to, gulp, comely models/gorgeous actresses: Daisy Fuentes, Fran Drescher, Jennifer Lopez, all tilting back their heads while laughing at his jokes. The stocky sentry at the foot of the stairs eyes you suspiciously. He knows you're a no one. You protest: You are someone. Plus your friend upstairs is expecting you. Bouncer knows the drill: Everyone's someone. And everyone's friend is up in the VIP room. You offer him a Jackson, a Grant, even a Franklin. He doesn't flinch. You see, you may have the cash. You just don't have the cachet.
"You're not here to pick up a girl. This is not a pick-up joint," warns Frank Hunt, manager of Peg's. "This is more like 1950, if you went into a pool place and knew everybody. You come in here if you want to have fun." Peg's is fourteen Ivan Simonis-felted, regulation-size (nine-and-a-half-foot) tables of old-school pool. The kind of place where the regulars all bring their own sticks. Where the clean-up boy nurses his own dreams of going pro, and shoots like he's well on his way. The place even hosts some pros, like "Super Mario" Cruz, who works out there regularly. ("It's like family around here," Cruz offers.) The parlor offers beer, wine, and pizza, but, Hunt notes, "we sell more [bottled] water than anything." Novices won't feel intimidated. Heck, they have a "Terrible Players Eight-Ball Tournament." Though not conducive to picking up a date, Peg's caters to anyone looking to pick up some pointers. Hunt will give you the lowdown on stance, grip, and sighting. Then he'll politely leave you alone to sink that shot, or just sink.

"You're not here to pick up a girl. This is not a pick-up joint," warns Frank Hunt, manager of Peg's. "This is more like 1950, if you went into a pool place and knew everybody. You come in here if you want to have fun." Peg's is fourteen Ivan Simonis-felted, regulation-size (nine-and-a-half-foot) tables of old-school pool. The kind of place where the regulars all bring their own sticks. Where the clean-up boy nurses his own dreams of going pro, and shoots like he's well on his way. The place even hosts some pros, like "Super Mario" Cruz, who works out there regularly. ("It's like family around here," Cruz offers.) The parlor offers beer, wine, and pizza, but, Hunt notes, "we sell more [bottled] water than anything." Novices won't feel intimidated. Heck, they have a "Terrible Players Eight-Ball Tournament." Though not conducive to picking up a date, Peg's caters to anyone looking to pick up some pointers. Hunt will give you the lowdown on stance, grip, and sighting. Then he'll politely leave you alone to sink that shot, or just sink.

Penrod's has shed its frat-house décor of neon beer signs and emerged as a refined spot on Mondays for those "in the industry" (acting, fashion, modeling) and those who enjoy watching those in the industry. The credit goes to two young promoters, Ted and Linley (to maintain a fashionable mystique, both declined to divulge their last names), who ran the funky Lincoln Road bar the Beehive. They closed that project this past fall and in November re-formed the Beehive into a one-nighter inside this well-worn South Beach club. "We had to do a lot of work," Ted says. "Basically I had to get rid of everything that reminded me of spring break." The mostly open-air beach-side site lends itself to a kind of rustic elegance. Now the genetically blessed flock here, attracted by the laid-back, sand-in-your-shoes atmosphere. Along with the finest from Elite and Ford, Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, and Oliver Stone have stopped by to quaff a few. "The models like it here because they can wear their flip-flops," Ted explains, adding that the earthiness helps keep away urban predators. "There aren't a bunch of 50-year-old European men flashing wads of bills trying to hit on them."

Penrod's has shed its frat-house décor of neon beer signs and emerged as a refined spot on Mondays for those "in the industry" (acting, fashion, modeling) and those who enjoy watching those in the industry. The credit goes to two young promoters, Ted and Linley (to maintain a fashionable mystique, both declined to divulge their last names), who ran the funky Lincoln Road bar the Beehive. They closed that project this past fall and in November re-formed the Beehive into a one-nighter inside this well-worn South Beach club. "We had to do a lot of work," Ted says. "Basically I had to get rid of everything that reminded me of spring break." The mostly open-air beach-side site lends itself to a kind of rustic elegance. Now the genetically blessed flock here, attracted by the laid-back, sand-in-your-shoes atmosphere. Along with the finest from Elite and Ford, Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, and Oliver Stone have stopped by to quaff a few. "The models like it here because they can wear their flip-flops," Ted explains, adding that the earthiness helps keep away urban predators. "There aren't a bunch of 50-year-old European men flashing wads of bills trying to hit on them."

If you happen to be a buffed Crunch regular with fashion-model modalities, score is exactly what you'll do here. The beauty of this ten-month-old Lincoln Road hot spot, however, is the fact that there's plenty of room for discretion. Even celibacy. With its mix of wildly varied theme nights and block parties, Score-ing's fun for everyone: boys, girls, doms, subs, butches, femmes, drag queens, autos, and yes, even heteros. With standard SoBe techno/house and standard SoBe beauty boys, Score manages to create a neighborly atmosphere in the cold and elitist South Beach scene. Regulars and staff are on a first-name basis. And if size matters, don't be deceived by outward appearances. Although barely noticeable from the street, the club takes on John Holmesian proportions inside. An anteroom is dominated by a large circular bar with stools for those who simply want to sit and drink. The side wall and windows looking out on Lincoln Road are lined by comfy sofas, plus chairs and tables for the lounge crowd. The next room, which features two more bars and a sunken dance floor, is for cruising, perusing, and dancing only. From an upstairs area one can peer at the light-tripping orgy below, or shoot a game of pool. It doesn't end there. Upstairs there's yet another back room with bar, this one surprisingly well-lighted. We suggest taking prospective one-night-stands there before deciding whether to take them home.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®