James Bond once said Christmas only comes once a year. Not true in Ft. Lauderdale where our holiest of days is quarterly. Friday, June 18 was the summer Bus Loop, or as it’s known to many of us in South Florida, Yom KipBusloop. Friday’s route focused on the 17th Street Causeway. 18 bones for a card and free transportation and you are set for an evening of beer and revelry. A good thing about Bus Loop is that it takes you to places where you do not normally hang out. A bad thing about Bus Loop is that there is probably a reason you do not normally hang out at those places. Bus Loop featured nine bars (and one ice cream shop!). As this space and my memory are limited, I will not try to write about all nine stops (not counting the ice cream shop!). So here are my thoughts on a few of the locations:
Duffy’s is new to its Cordova Road location and new to Bus Loop. Therefore, Duffy’s did not realize that Bus Loop bars limit the type of free drinks they will serve, such as a horrible raspberry concoction (the only beverage YOLO served during the spring Bus Loop), or that old keg of Schaeffer that was never tapped. Duffy’s ignorance was to our benefit. A guy next to me ordered a Patron and pineapple…well done, guy next to me. Duffy’s did, however, fall into a common trap of Bus Loop: being completely unprepared for the throng of thirsty Bus Loopers. They had their standard three bartenders and getting the attention of any of them was a frustrating experience. Duffy’s bar is so huge that you might not have a bartender within 15 feet for ten minutes at a time. Get it together Bus Loop locations!
That’s right, Embassy Suites. Or more specifically, the E Spot at Embassy Suites (I guess the E stands for Embassy?). Walking into the hotel, I had to choose between Bus Loop and the Scott Family Reunion. I am not convinced I made the right decision. Sorry to repeat myself, but the E Spot was seriously under-staffed. A couple friends of mine were there for more than 20 minutes and never got their free drink. Unacceptable. This is why it is so damn hard to complete the Bus Loop, because you have logjams at ridiculous places like E Spot at Embassy Suites. They did bring out a free pizza for the Bus Loopers at one point…that lasted less than 10 seconds. The E Spot actually seems ok for a hotel bar, but I have a hard time imagining the situation in which I will return. I cannot be sure, but this was likely one of the largest crowds they have had at E Spot, and they did not handle it gracefully.
I was in Friday night Bus Loop drinking mode and did not feel like taking an ice cream break. But friends who did said there was as much free ice cream as you could eat, and no wait. Well done Coldstone Creamery! I wish you sold rum & root beer floats.
Taza features a cool decor and serves acceptable Mediterranean food, but it was also the scene of one of the more unexpected moments of the evening. Again, standard bus loop rules apply: long wait for a beer. But then! After finally ordering three free Bus Loop Yuenglings for myself and companions, it happened. The bartender produced three half-full pint glasses. After a non-confrontational “What gives?” from your author, the bartender mumbled something about how the pint glasses were bigger than the glasses they were using earlier and walked away. Seriously Taza? You make us wait that long for a half-full beer? Who serves half-full beers anyway? I felt like Vizzini in Princess Bride: inconceivable!
And this brings us to a larger issue with Bus Loop. The establishments themselves choose to participate…it is not as if Leonardo DiCaprio is in some warehouse in France printing and distributing Bus Loop cards himself and tons of people unexpectedly descend on a bar demanding free drinks. Yet the bartenders inevitably act annoyed, a majority of the locations are not prepared for the crowds, and they treat Bus Loopers like second-class citizens. But that is a reminder of what this holiest of Ft. Lauderdale days is all about. Through the ages, my people (irresponsible drinkers) have been shunned and treated by society as the “Other”. Bus Loop is our quarterly reminder that we are unrepentant, we are not really atoning for anything, and we will happily endure mistreatment at the hands of saloon keepers for free(ish) cocktails.