Prive is the club that serves as the VIP spot for the Opium Garden complex. It takes some moxie, if you don't have the VIP flair, to get into this place. But if you can manage to convince the celebrity doormen, Frabitzio and Cubby, that you belong with the big shots, you just might get a pass into clubland's most exclusive joint. The opulence rains down from the ceiling like the silk curtains. And yes, it's just as you imagined and more. Nary an ugly person in sight -- only round, perky boobs; tight asses; and chiseled faces among the assortment of models, celebs, and friends of important friends. Just make sure you have enough plastic; everything in here is as pricey as it looks.

Fox's Sherron Inn
When a bar racks up as many New Times Best of Miami awards as Fox's has over the years, you have to assume the owners are related to someone at the paper, or some juicehead New Times writer(s) spends a little too much time sucking down booze and basking in the cigarette haze at this South Miami gem. In any case the two-for-one happy hour at Fox's (4:00 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Tuesday and Saturday) is nothing unique; it's the seedy ambiance (more like bankrupt-businessman-drowning-his-sorrows-in-gin seedy than bikers-and-whores-and-Saturday-night-fighting seedy) that keeps you coming back. There is a timeless quality supplied by the big booths, excellent food, and jazz and big band standards on Fox's free jukebox that, combined with the permanent twilight, makes the bar its own reality, a bourbon-scented, melancholic escape pod from the pressing business of everyday life. In other words, the perfect afternoon antidote to the relentless fluorescent lighting of an office, or the rage-inducing rush hour that caps off many an unfulfilling workday. Proprietor George Andrews, who has owned the bar for 36 of its 58 years, says 60 percent of his customers are regulars from the South Miami neighborhood. "It's like a pub-style bar that they'd have up north or in England, where everybody goes to congregate at the end of the day." Because of its proximity to the University of Miami, Fox's also draws plenty of undergrads, gawking and giggling over the retro charm and slurping down happy hour drinks.

Skybar at the Shore Club
J.Lo and Ben Affleck canoodling on a wooden swing at the front of the main bar. Missy Elliott and entourage lounging on a Moroccan-theme bed by the pool. Ten-dollar Bacardi Razz and Sprite with a lemon twist. Ian Schrager's imprint. Entrance is around the corner on 20th Street. Head east, past the Setai, the behemoth condo under construction next door, until you come to the Alice in Wonderland-esque blue wooden door, where, depending on your chic attire, you are granted entry into a lush garden softly lit by bamboo-encased lanterns. DJs spin some old-school hip-hop, New Wave, and altrock sprinkled with a little Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones. But see, this is in a hotel. Avoid the crowds out front by sneaking in through the Shore Club's majestically decorated white linen lobby, past the make-out benches, into SkyBar's surreal Red Room lounge.

Beaches Bar and Grill
As bars go, Beaches, in the dingy basement of a beachside Days Inn, is the opposite of Miami Beach glam, literally the end of the line for evening revelers on the way home (and a symbolic end for the crew of aging alky regulars who sit around the bar, sad and still as empty bottles). But the jukebox kicks ass. The juke at Beaches has everything from soul (best-of-Motown compilations, Marvin Gaye, Barry White) to blues (B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan) to elegant oldies (the Platters, Sinatra, Tony Bennett). The schlock rock (and even the hippest electronica devotee is up for a little Guns N' Roses after a night of alcoholic excess) spans the decades, covering Queen, Bob Seger, George Thorogood, and Creed, and there are classic collections from Bowie, the Stones, and Lennon. There are only a few hip-hop tracks (mostly on "Best of '99"-type compilations), but every other modern music genre is covered.

Readers Choice: Foxs Sherron Inn

Madfish House
Mon, where can I git me some groovy rhythm in da name of Jah? The Madhouse, mon. Strangely enough, in a town with as many Caribbean folks and influences as Miami has, not to mention pirate radio that plays reggae regularly and multiple Caribbean festivals, there isn't a club dedicated to the tropical bass lines and the reefer rhythms of Rastafari melodies. The Madhouse, every Friday night, makes up for an absentee week, pumping up the reggae, dancehall, and calypso tunes. The night is authentically Rasta, blunts are out and burning, dreads brush against your arm as you make your way to the bar, and the dancehall is booming.

You could go to some pumped-up strip mall and find one of those generic, neon-lit game meccas where they have twenty dart boards -- all in perfect condition. Bah! As any good dart player knows, you need a crowded, smoky pub for proper darts. You need lots of dark wood and ready access to foaming pints of beer. But you also need a place where the board is not just another wall decoration. That's Norman's. The place respects the tossing of the feathers. They set aside an alcove away from the passing crowd so no one will jostle you. A ledge runs to the right of where you stand so you don't have to move between throws in order to take a sip from your beer. Anybody who has ever been in the zone knows how important that is. The bristle board is replaced on average every three months. The bar darts, quite serviceable, are replaced every two weeks. But as you should know by now, you're better off bringing your own darts.

If you don't have an invitation to one of the many exclusive parties thrown by Mynt, chances are you won't gain admittance to this latest South Beach hot spot. But if you make it past the doorman/power broker and the long, slender velvet rope protecting this nightclub from the great unwashed, you'll find a front room draped in egg white and mint green colors; a Grand Lounge with a walkway nestled between an encirclement of plush couches and the bar; and an Ultra Lounge marked by hanging mirrors and marble floors. Mynt is usually frequented by the finest in Beach glitterati, so dress to impress if you want to get in.

Tough times in Haiti seem to have spilled into Miami. After the closing of Planet Kreyol in Miami Shores, there are no more exclusively Haitian clubs. What's more, at least one of the places that used to regularly host Haitian music (last year's winner: Spirit Lounge) is now turning to salsa. Luckily the Haitian music scene is still alive and playing at other venues throughout Miami-Dade. Gusto's Bar & Grill on Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami Beach features Haitian musicians on Friday. And Gusto's on NW 79th Court in Miami Lakes presents Haitian music on Saturday. If you still have some energy on Sunday, head for Gemini Night Club in Hollywood.

Corbett's Sports Bar & Grill
Just because a bar is a "sports bar" doesn't mean it shouldn't adhere to the same aesthetic rules and regulations governing bars everywhere, namely: 1) Said establishment should always be dark, or at least dim, even during the day (no one slinks into a watering hole at noon for a faceful of sunshine). 2) There should be at least one pool table. 3) Waitstaff, particularly waitresses and bartenders, must be capable of Dostoyevskian mood shifts, from frantic happiness and congeniality to drink-spilling surliness (this keeps things interesting; should conversation falter, you can always nudge a friend and ask just what the hell is wrong with Debbie tonight?). 4) The food should be good, reasonably priced, and include at least a couple varieties of burger. Corbett's meets all these criteria, and has built a healthy neighborhood following because of it. The burgers are excellent, food prices are reasonable, if not great ($5 gets you a seven-ounce burger, $7 a twelve-ounce, and $8 buys a fried shrimp platter). The place is always dim, the waitstaff aren't afraid to speak their minds (particularly in the wee hours when the sports fans have been in their cups commiserating the woeful fate of the Dolphins/Heat/Panthers), and patrons can play pinball, pool, or darts to see who buys the next round.

Readers Choice: Flanigans Seafood Bar & Grill

This is a weirdly cool place. The dim lighting, black paint peeling off the walls, and wobbly stage decorated by guitars, horns, and drum sets sit in stark contrast to the bright and busy milieu just outside on Collins Avenue. The portraits on the wall pay homage to recording stars of yesteryear, Elvis, Dean, and Frank among others, but the spotlight glares mostly for young hipsters prodded into belting out popular tunes as recent as 50 Cent's "In Da Club." The best time to visit is in the wee hours of the morning. You'll hear the strained crooning even before you enter; that's when hopped-up club hoppers usually drop in to see if they can be an American Idol, even if it's just in front of friends and barflies. Speaking of American Idols, last year's runner-up, Justin Guarini, is a regular there. He likes to show off and without Kelly or Simon around, he's always the best in the room. The true draw, though, are the drunken buffoons who muddle the spelled-out words to "Red, Red Wine." Don't be afraid to get up onstage. You might sound as good as you do in the shower. Ronnie, the Regis look-alike at the helm of the PA system, takes requests -- but don't be pushy, he can be a little impatient with rabble-rousers.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®