2006 Bars and Nightlife Readers' Choice

Readers' Picks

Best Strip Club

The Torch

Strip clubs are usually dark inside for two reasons. One, the patrons would prefer not to recognize anyone they know nor to be recognized themselves. Two, stripping is a hard life and, unfortunately, the wear and tear often shows on the faces and forms of the professionals. Not so at the Torch and the Torch 2. Yes, it's dim inside and, yes, it's hard to make out features at first, but once your eyes adjust to the limited light, you'll find yourself face to, well, whatever, with a bevy of leggy, clear-complexioned, hot babes.

1826 W. Main St., 344-0218

Second Place: Spearmint Rhino

Third Place: Night Moves

Best Gay-Friendly Bar

The BALCONY Club

The Balcony - FRANCIS DELAPENA

"Gay-friendly?" This is a misnomer at the Balcony Club--or at least, a mix-up of chicken and egg. "Straight-friendly" is the proper formulation. The Balcony is the downtown place to be on any given Saturday night, and breeders should thank their lucky stars that the Balcony is cool enough to let 'em in. (Certain straight-centric bars don't seem to extend this courtesy the other way. Hrrmph.) On the dance floor, there's no such thing as gay or straight: just square or groovy. Be groovy--get out there and shake what your parental unit gave you.

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

SECOND PLACE: EMERALD City CLUB

THIRD PLACE: NEUROLUX

Best Bar

Neurolux

Home away from home, and what a home it is. Their drinks are tough. The pinball machine will convince you to spend the quarters you were saving for laundry. The massive lit crown on the stage will make you want to take artsy photographs. And the lack of good hip hop on the jukebox won't make you angry because, face it, Johnny Cash is wildly appropriate in any situation.

Happy hour is daily from 12:30-8 p.m., so now you have an excuse to have your business meeting there on the patio. Not a fan of abrasive bar lighting? You're in luck. The only time you're going to be able to admire the details on your new tattoo will be after last call when they turn the lights on. The Neurolux is unsurpassed and elegant, and this year, the best bar in Boise. Case closed.

113 N. 11th St., 336-5034

Second Place: Bardenay

Third Place: The Garage

Best Karaoke

44 Club

We have two words: Black Velvet. Not the booze, but the song "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles.

Also in the pool of disturbingly popular karaoke songs at the 44 Club is the B-52's "Love Shack," as well as everything from the Grease soundtrack. Rumor has it these particular songs can only be requested once an hour (but maybe a nice tip to the karaoke DJ will work in your favor). Almost everyone will get up and grind anytime a someone sings a 50 Cent song, and The Beastie Boys' "Brass Monkey" always gets tails moving. "Margaritaville" inevitably weasels its way into the mix, and it is a fine day when someone courageously sings "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin--as long as it's by the right person, that one can be a beauty! Holidays there are fun too. If you don't like your family, you can go to the 44 Club for Thanksgiving dinner. And, if you do like your family, just take them with you.

4340 W. State St., 344-0693

Second Place: Navajo Room

Third Place: The Plank

Best Cocktail

Bardenay

How did they defend their title? Distilling their own gin, rum and vodka in-house helps. But the fantastic drink recipes are what keep the same bodies coming back to the same stools over and over again: the Ginger Rum Cocktail, el Diablo Sangrita and the Huckleberry Infusion. The sound so pretty, we're not sure whether to drink them or pour them in our ear. Maybe that means we've had enough for now.

610 Grove St., 426-0538

Second Place: Red Feather Lounge

Third Place: Neurolux

Best Sports Bar

The Ram

If you like to make new friends and enemies based on team alliances, you'll be among your kind. And, if you like good food and in-house brewed beer and couldn't care less about jocks, there's a place for you at The Ram, too.

709 E. Park Blvd., 345-2929

Second Place: Crescent

Third Place: Busters

Best Bartenders

Garth and Guy Midnight, The Garage

Most recently the G-team has been slinging drinks at The Garage, which Garth designed. That bar puts out drinks faster than any bar in town (primarily because the brothers are the quickest pouring mofos in the West). Of late, the Midnights have been forced to pour in a makeshift bar outdoors, but, Boise, you don't care. You still think they're the poop--in a good way.

1602 N. 13th, 344-6967

Second Place: Danny at Neurolux

Third Place: Pat Carden at Milky Way

Best Dance Club/Nightclub

THE BALCONY club

Just when you think you've heard Darude's "Sandstorm" one too many times, you suddenly find yourself on the box, dancing harder than Richard Simmons sweatin' to the oldies, and everyone around you fully supports your decision to grind on the person with whom you're sharing the box.

We're pretty sure that not dancing at the Balcony is a misdemeanor. Forgetting your feather boa at home and trying to leave before 2 a.m. follow close behind. Good luck finding a place to sit down and have a drink, but who actually wants to sit when there is loud dance music, disco balls and regular performances by Boise's only performing female impersonation group? This club is glittery and flirty and spectacularly gay--besides being the place to be when you want to see or be seen, gay or straight. Repeat after us: "The Scissor Sisters are on the turntable. All's right with the world."

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

Second Place: Neurolux

Third Place: Humpin' Hannah's

Best Martini

Milky Way

A Milky Way martini. - FRANCIS DELAPENA
We've spilled plenty of ink in praise of Pat Carden over at MilkyWay, and some of it while we were actually sober. But here's the reason why he keeps leading the pack: The award-winning MilkyWay 10-minute martini is tasty, delicate and most importantly, it's made through a consistent and repeatable process. Other bartenders have great recipes, but Pat's martini is the one that you, the voters, know will live up to that recipe over and over again. MilkyWay is where to send someone to when they ask you for the very first time, "What's the big deal about martinis, anyway?"

205 N. 10th St. Ste 101, 343-4334

Second Place: Red Feather Lounge

Third Place: Bardenay