2007 Bars & Nightclubs Readers' Choice

Readers' Picks

Best Local Bartender

Mark Allen at Red Feather

Best Local Bartender - JOYCE ALEXANDER

Well, well, readers. You certainly shook up the best bartender category this year! Not a single one of the usual suspects—the Midnight Brothers, Kevin Farney and Pat Carden—made it into the top three. We don't know what to say. And really, for an office full of know-it-alls, we didn't know what to say because we didn't know Mark Allen. So we made a few calls. Turns out Allen does quite a bit of research on alcohol and what mixes well with what. And apparently, he's pretty good at putting that book knowledge into practice because he has two cocktails on Red Feather's drink menu—known for its outstanding selection of eclectic beverages—named after him. The Allen Project is gin, pineapple, lemon juice and fresh ginger; the second is the Markazark made with 12-year-old Elijah Craig bourbon, honey, fresh ginger and lime. Perhaps we've been so wrong about this category in the past—maybe it's really not a popularity contest, but one that reflects the discerning nature of our readers and their capable bartenders.

246 N. 8th St., 208-343-3119

Second Place: LeighAnn Dufferena at Neurolux

Third Place: Jerry Wexler at Balcony

Best Local Sports Bar

The Ram

The genre of sports bar is a nebulous concept. Theoretically, a sports bar is a place where diners can gather in a casual environment to kick back, watch whichever game happens to be "the game," drink beer and enjoy fried food accompanied by some sort of ranch-based dipping sauce. However, technically, we think that by defining a sports bar simply by those criteria, every bachelor pad, fraternity house and suburban family room could possible qualify as a sports bar. Good thing our readers are more discerning. The Ram is most definitely a sports bar, and you've most definitely declared it No. 1. With its "tallest bar in Boise," double-deck patio and on-site brewery, you say it makes for a great place to catch a game, tip a cold one and enjoy a view of the Greenbelt.

709 E. Park Blvd., 208-345-2929

Second Place: Crescent "No Lawyers" Bar and Grill

Third Place: Bittercreek Ale House

Best Local Strip Club

Tie: Spearmint Rhino and The Torch

It's all tied up in the Best Local Strip Club category, which means we're at least in some sort of legal compliance when it comes to the dress code requirement for the establishments' employees—tied up, not hanging out. Sheesh, we should call this the best misnamed category. OK, down to business then. Spearmint Rhino may be a chain strip club (so many jokes, so little space), but it is solely responsible for bringing a little class to the bikini bar scene in Boise. With its plush interior, gussied up bartenders and upper-crust feel, if they didn't have dancers, one could almost mistake the club for a posh restaurant. The Torch, on the other hand, is an institution in Boise. (Of course, we need not mention that before bikinis, it was fingersteaks that were responsible for its notoriety.) It may be dark and a little seedy-looking on the inside, but the dancers are reportedly the most entertaining in town. Not that we'd know (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

Rhino: 1500 Grove St. 208-429-8229; Torch: 1826 W. Main St., 208-344-0218

Second Place: The Torch 2

Third Place: Night Moves

Best Local Martini

Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery

The vodka and gin here is made on the spot. You could get them to make you something more cosmopolitan, ahem, with juice and colors and all that, but it's almost an insult to the high-quality hooch that pours from their copper tubs. A martini from Bardenay has soothed many a wrinkled BW editor's brow and, we suspect, does the same for many of our readers, who happily crowd the shaded patio and the spacious bar.

610 W. Grove St., 208-426-0538

Second Place: Pair

Third Place: Red Feather

Best Local Cocktails

Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery

We're equal opportunity drinkers here at BW, but have to admit it's hard to compete with a place that distills its own gin, rum and vodka. Bardenay takes its cocktails seriously, doing little things like storing some liquors and garnishes in the freezer to minimize dilution, fresh squeezing juices and even using thin-rimmed glasses. The menu of cocktails reads like a novel, combining the classics with originals like the Iguanabana, Bad Apple, El Diablo Sangrita, Jamaican 10 Speed, Mad Hatter and Huckleberry Infusion. Just scanning the list of gourmet cocktails makes us think we haven't done enough drinking in our lives.

610 Grove St., 208-426-0538

Second Place: Red Feather Lounge

Third Place: Neurolux

Best local Gay-Friendly Bar

The Balcony Club

See "Best Dance Club." Seven-foot tall drag queens don't hang out at the Balcony Club for nothing.

150 N. 8th St. upstairs, 208-336-1313

Second Place: Neurolux

Third Place: Emerald club

Best Local Dance Club

The Balcony Club

Once the bass is thumpin', and the beats are pumpin', you'll be able to let the music move you across the big dance floor at the Balcony. On Fridays and Saturdays, the place is a sweaty, sultry tableau where you might see a slew of scene kids, a passel of pretty boys and girls, and a regular bunch of everyday joes dancing the night away. Often all together.

150 N. 8th St., 208-336-1313

Second Place: Neurolux

Third Place: Humpin' Hannah's

Best Local Karaoke

44 Club

Best Local Karaoke - LEILA RAMELLA

Don't be fooled by the look of the outside of the building—the 44 Club is in no danger of falling over. Some of its patrons may be, but that's a whole other story. The joint isn't huge, and when large herds of karaoke singers pile in, it can seem a little claustrophobic. But, according to our readers, the sardines-in-a-can feel only lends itself to the atmosphere. The selection is a little bit of everything; catch an all-male rendition of "Lady Marmalade" or plug your ears while the guy two tables over belts out classic AC/DC. Our informants tell us the best thing about karaoke at the 44 Club isn't that it's seven nights a week (although that's a big fat gold star just on its own), but that the DJ staff is fair—meaning they take friends and regulars as priority over newbies. Anyone for a rousing duet of Summer Lovin'?

4340 W. State St., 208-344-0693

Second Place: Old Chicago (downtown)

Third Place: Overland Bar

Best Local Bar

Neurolux

For the umpteenth year running, Neurolux wins top honors. What is it about this place that makes it a clear front-runner time and again? Is it that owner Allen Ireland books cutting-edge live music? Is it the good, stiff drinks? Is it the ultra-cool atmosphere? Is it the solicitous waitstaff? Yes, yes, yes and yes. The Neurolux just is.

111 N. 11th St., 208-343-0886

Second Place: Red Feather Lounge

Third Place: The Balcony Club

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