The cigar craze is over. So what's a cigar bar to do? Become part of the nightclub scene, of course. Havana Cigar Emporium and Lounge boasts disco dancing, hot salsa, DJ nights, and even live music. Just as an aside, a cigar store is stocked with 20,000 stogies. (None from Cuba though, as the establishment's name implies.) More fun can be had at blackjack and pool tables and at the two smoker-friendly full liquor bars. Actually the entire place is smoker-friendly, thanks in part to state-of-the-art air filter systems that keep patrons' heads clear of noxious clouds. "We are the new millennium in cigar bars," notes general manager Vito Viscito. As Jim Carrey's character in The Mask would say, the place is literally "smokin'!"

Best Club To Close In The Past Twelve Months

Bash

With co-owner/manager Eric Omores at the helm, Bash ushered in a short-lived era of relatively un-self-conscious enjoyment when it opened in April 1993. "I guess what made it great was the mix of people. Back then everybody just wanted to have fun," the Senegal-born, France-raised Omores recalls wistfully. "It was nothing pretentious." The space expanded the VIP-room concept and initiated many theme nights. Omores and his partners (including Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall and, in the early years, actor Sean Penn and nightlife impresario Alexis Ogurik) sold the club this year. He already had moved on to open Nikki Beach Club and then Pearl with Tommy Pooch. But, says Omores, Bash will always be special to him: "It did leave a print in the history of nightclubs on South Beach."

Since opening in April 2000 in downtown Miami, Club Space has lured throngs of South Beach regulars across the causeway. Created from four warehouses, Space, true to its name, offers more than 9000 square feet of dance floor. The door staff -- firm, polite, and unhindered by the essential Beach ego -- remains as cool as the cavernous joint, which stays chilled even when fully packed, thanks to a powerful air-conditioning unit. Developing a reputation for importing internationally known DJ talent for special events, the club hosted the URB magazine/Giant Step party during this year's Winter Music Conference, where Roni Size, the undisputed King of Jungle, kicked his dirty beats for a capacity crowd. A 24-hour liquor license ensures never-ending festivities. This March Space's first neighborhood competitor, Fuel, debuted. Time will tell if downtown has space enough for two.
Attitude-drenched bars full of the sleek and beautiful have become redundant. The most glamorous gay hangout for slumming: The Laundry Bar. Not entirely devoid of South Beach pretension, it's the kind of place where unassuming nerds can breathe easily alongside narcissistic muscle boys while waiting for their clothes to come clean. High-tech décor rules, but flip-flops and surfer shorts outnumber the Kenneth Cole getups. Sassy types can bring a pillowcase full of their most provocative undies to clean in the predawn hours. Those who prefer to air their dirty laundry at home can just sit at the bar and shoot the breeze with a healthy contingent of lesbians -- an increasing rarity in the gay bar scene. Veteran South Beach bartender Dot Larkin (formerly of Club Deuce and the now-defunct West End) will keep you awash in alcohol. A happy-hour special offers two-for-one drinks until 8:00 p.m. daily, and until 9:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.
For such a simple drink, the gimlet has a salty history. This classic cocktail was delivered into the annals of mixology by British sailors who stirred together medicinal rations of Rose's lime juice and gin, discovering that it was possible to catch a nice buzz and ward off scurvy in one swing of the boom. The sailors probably didn't enjoy their libation shaken with ice, though, the preferred preparation method today. Author Raymond Chandler probably did, doing for the gimlet what Ian Fleming did for the martini. In the 1953 mystery The Long Goodbye, a character declares: "A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's lime juice, and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow." Not quite. Since we're fortunate to be moored in a place with an abundance of limes and no threat of scurvy, there's no reason to ruin a gimlet with the cloying flavor of Rose's. Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant has improved upon the original recipe with refreshing results. Their gimlet boasts fresh-squeezed lime juice, a little sugar syrup, and gin shaken with ice. Created in a handsome mahogany bar reminiscent of a dignified gentlemen's club, Joe's version delivers a tart bang that feels as right as Big Ben. A gimlet the way those British sailors could only have dreamed.

Alas for lovers of Haitian compas music, McArthur International Café, with its weekly roster of local and national compas acts, is no more. Roots fans, however, can still find choice vodou rhythms and balladry at old standby Tap Tap. Venerable singer-songwriter (and former Port-au-Prince mayor) Manno Charlemagne is a regular presence on Saturday nights. Fridays bring a shifting set of rasin musicians including Papaloko of Loray Mistik and Richard LaGuerre, formerly of Boukan Ginen, accompanied on vodou feast days by dancers from local troupes such as Sosyete Koukouy. Beneath the watchful eyes of the lwa peering down from the colorful murals, patrons fueled by Barbancourt rum punch can practice their yanvalou and conga steps late into the night.
This sleek little steel-and-chrome number with flashing lights offers the most eclectic selection of tunes in town. There are contemporary Top 40 hits by the likes of Marc Anthony, Lauryn Hill, and, yes, Christina Aguilera; some gems from Motown's golden era; a smattering of country (Patsy Cline, George Strait); and a surprise or two (Elvis Presley's "Rock-A-Hula Baby"). The real reason to sidle up to this machine, though, may be its assortment of big band, swing, and Tin Pan Alley classics: Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, and Tony Bennett are all well represented. The best part? This juke hasn't swallowed a quarter in years. The music is on the house.
Hialeah Goth diva/performance artist Viva hosts a campy night of sex and song that would make Britney Spears jealous. Belt out tunes from the hefty book of cheesy pop and ballads. Pick from Viva's collection of feather boas, wigs, and strap-on dildos and fondle them as you croon. But try to behave: She and her Gothic devotees razz sprightly singers with their antics, punishing hecklers and gagging boys and girls with duct tape onstage. Catch the show Friday nights at Churchill's and Tuesday nights at Underland Privat -- if you dare.

A million-dollar renovation undertaken last August by owner Aurelio Rodriguez added a gourmet kitchen, back-yard stage, and air conditioning for VIPs, yet this rustic roadhouse retains all its long-standing open-air charm. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, La Covacha remains South Florida's best bet for classic and contemporary salsa as well as the latest in merengue and vallenato. Sunday rocks as hard as ever, with Latin alternative bands blaring for a young Latin-American crowd. And any day at La Covacha is ideal for noted visiting national acts to launch their music among the stars.
What? A hip club to go to? Yeah, just head over to Washington Avenue. There's a slew of them. Well, yeah, you have to wait in a line for a while, but just 30, 40 minutes. An hour tops. What's that? You're on the guest list? You know Gerry? Oh, your friend knows Ken? That's nice. In that case those glamorous little security guards may only make you wait fifteen minutes at their fabulous velvet ropes. But you'll probably get in eventually, and then the cover charge is usually only about twenty bucks. Yes, sometimes even when you're on the list! Well, no, that twenty doesn't include any drinks. But they're only eight or ten bucks a pop. Have fun! Oh, you're inviting me to come along? Thanks, but nah, I'm just not in the mood. Have a great time! (Pssst. Hey, cutie. Let's get out of this nightmare. Say what? There's a cool place over on the west side of the island, down by the bay? You mean Purdy? Let's take this cab. I like Purdy because it's, like, totally mellow. But not too mellow. You're right. And it's Wednesday, which is live-music night. You know what else is cool? There's never a cover. And they, like, pride themselves on that. Oh, it's Thursday? Well, then there'll probably be some decent DJs groovin' on. I've got the first round. We can hang out on one of the couches. Maybe shake our booties a little over by the shag rug. What? You, like, always sit on the couch under the lava lamps and African masks? That's, like, totally where I always sit.)

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®