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.

If not for the lighted beer signs in the windows, it would be easy to miss this low-lying roadhouse on a commercial stretch of U.S. 1 just north of sleepy Miami Shores. To say that the Uke is little more than a bar isn't a putdown; it's an accurate description of the space. The interior is taken up almost completely by a long, wood, U-shape bar. With barely enough room left over for a pool table and jukebox, the Uke is the place to go when you feel like bending an elbow and rubbing shoulders with the masses. No microbrews here: Bud on tap, half-a-dozen other big-batch brands in the cooler. All of it cold and cheap. Save my seat.
Havana Cigar Emporium and Lounge
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'!"

Time slows at the Pelican Nest. In this old oasis disguised as a warehouse, regulars tend to sit at the end of the bar where an upside-down skiff hovers above. Long ago they noticed that because the boat is upside down, all the gear, including two big burlap bags marked "Colombian," is in various stages of falling out. No need to duck, though. Its contents are defying gravity, thanks to the talented artist who put the darn thing together. You, too, will notice these things. At the moment, though, you might be distracted by other matters. The Budweiser and black and tan arrive quickly in front of you. The pool table, on an upstairs balcony overlooking the small dining area, beckons. Your stomach growls. ("The smoked fish dip gets a lot of compliments," notes bartender Sherry.) Your ears ring, courtesy of bands like Peach Black, whose CD includes "Loosing You" [sic], "Rosa Linda," and other rock originals taking Cutler Ridge by storm. After the music ends, some joker at the bar gets up, grabs the guitarist's Stratocaster, and sings his own rendition of "All Along the Watchtower" with impunity. When the hour has gotten late, and time speeds up again, there is a way outta there: west to the turnpike (exit 13) or east to South Dixie Highway.
This one's a joke, right? There are no lesbian bars here. Sure a few girls' nights occur around town, but no permanent place exists for all the Sapphic sisters to gather over drinks. (Apparently the gals don't bring in as much money as the gaggles of shirtless boys, or maybe we're all just spending too much time at home -- nesting.) Girls in search of girls should support the Women's National Basketball Association. Buy season tickets to the Miami Sol home games and start cruising the Chivas Regal or the two Budweiser bars at the arena. Face it, you'll find more lesbians at the Sol games than in all of Miami's gay bars combined on any given night. Now, now, heterosexual sports fans, relax; you have nothing to fear. We are neither recruiting nor converting. Everyone really is at the arena to enjoy the game. Catching up with your friends at half-time or making some new ones? That's just a bonus.
Tobacco Road
They say Calle Ocho is coming back. If they spent a Saturday night at La Reina, they'd see Calle Ocho has stayed pretty much where it's been for the past 40 years, right here in funky Little Havana, the first stop on many immigrants' road to the American dream. They drift in as the night progresses: the Honduran brothers looking to down a few beers (signs all over warn in Spanish: NO BEER SERVED WITHOUT FOOD, an accommodation to a past police crackdown on bars masquerading as cafeterias -- sort of like this one), dance with a waitress, and maybe find a chica to make them forget the ones they left behind in San Pedro Sula. The ancient Cuban man in a jacket and fedora who'll spend the night guaracheando like he's back in Pinar del Río, Latin classics blaring from the jukebox. The mysterious white-haired man, who sips beer and coffee while musing to himself in a Slavic language, as though attempting to maintain proficiency in the midst of so many Latin tongues. A young couple with babies, two or three women with young children. Nothing so far to get the Honduran brothers' hopes up. But the night is young. Long past midnight everyone's dancing under the fluorescent lights. Even though the customers will straggle out when 2:00 a.m. rolls around, many will be back first thing in the morning, lounging around a sidewalk table and watching the American dream unfold before them in all its mixed-up, faded glory.
Fox's Sherron Inn
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.
The Bar
After bartenders in Coral Gables call the last round, many of them make their way to The Bar for nightcaps. There is no better endorsement for a watering hole than one from the mixologist class. But if you need another, check out the beer selection. The Bar boasts 10 brands of brew on tap and 21 in bottles, plus a wide variety of liquor. A serviceable menu of standards features four kinds of hamburgers, a decent chicken sandwich, and mozzarella sticks that don't bathe your fingers in grease. Tunes that range from Sinatra to Kid Rock stack the jukebox. On Saturdays live music rocks the room. Above it all is an air of comfort that makes The Bar's steady clientele treat the joint like a second home.
Twist
E.M.
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.
Zeke's Roadhouse
Neighborhood bars are supposed to be friendly, and nothing's friendlier than the price of a bottle of beer at Zeke's: two dollars. Not just any beer, either. Zeke's selection includes more than 100 brews, everything from Samuel Adams Summer Wheat to Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, from Dos Equis to Cerveza India. You name the country, and it's probably represented on the menu. Zeke's is especially deserving of recognition this year because it marks the reinstatement of the two-dollar-per-bottle policy. Five years ago, when Zeke's first opened, idiosyncratic owner Victor J. Deutsch garnered a reputation for his "beer garden" by charging that paltry sum. Then reality set in (the joint is on Lincoln Road, for crying out loud), and Deutsch set a still extremely reasonable price of three dollars for his bottled beers and four dollars for his pints. But last year Deutsch went off his medication again, God bless him, and down went the prices. Good cheap brew is not the only thing that makes this place convivial. Outside seating means friends passing by are likely to stop and knock one back with you. The bartenders may not be much to look at, but they sure are nice. And if you hang out there long enough, they're likely to call you if they haven't seen you in a while -- just to make sure everything's okay.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®