"Gay ____" Summer Blogging

Gay Fort Lauderdale (Actually, Wilton Manors, but “Gay Wilton Manors” is Redundant…), Part 2

Columbia Queer Alliance Fort Lawdy Gay Columbia

Downtown Fort Lauderdale at Sunset. Image via BusinessWeek Online.

Oh mah gawsh, where does the time go? After 2.5 weeks in Fort Gaudy-dale, I am now waiting in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport for my flight to Hong Kong, where I will be for the rest of the summer. But first, let me summarize my past two weeks in SoFlo. After enjoying many gay-ventures after my first night, I have no idea where to begin…

After I hibernated for 36 hours and slept off the raw oyster-induced food poisoning, I awoke to a text message from my high school GSA advocate, Adam. He wanted me to meet him for Sunday afternoon drinks at Rosie’s, a raucous Wilton Manors outdoor bar and restaurant. Given the situation in my stomach, however, we made plans to hang out on Wednesday at a Wilton Manors wine bar, the Naked Grape. Adam and I had stayed close after I graduated from my high school alma mater, but this would be the first time drinking with him, as this was my first time seeing him since I had turned 21.

Prominently located on Wilton Drive, the Naked Grape immediately struck me with its chic (and smoke free!) ambiance (it’s still legal to smoke in Florida bars…the state basically has no rules). My impression of Wilton Manors drinking establishments (and the city, more generally) before enjoying the Naked Grape was that everything was — well — CAMPY. This bar only had one depiction of a nude male (!), and somehow this painting of an anonymous backside was way classier than the usual black-and-white full-frontal. (I really don’t know why every Wilton Manors establishment insists on having several b/w male nudes, and they’re everywhere! The spa, the corner store, the bars…everywhere.)

Back to the Naked Grape: it’s deep blue ambiance is flattering for any wine-goer, though I would imagine it’s very dangerous once you’ve put on the “wine goggles.” They also have an incredible selection of wine by-the-glass; it’s easily the largest selection of wine a la carte that I’ve ever seen before. If you’re into wine tasting, this is a great place to go, because they even let you sample the wine before diving into a whole glass (almost as good as sampling ice cream flavors before ordering a whole scoop). As a result, Adam ended up ordering the same Pinot Noir, even though he apparently detests “normal” Pinot Noirs (I just think he’s never had a good Pinot Noir before…how could you not like Pinots!?). The Naked Grape is low-key enough that you can enjoy a couple of glasses and conversation with a friend (or date?), or you can assemble a whole group of friends and kick back on one of their couches (an activity that Adam, his friends, and I would do later in my visit). This bar is Adam’s favorite in South Florida, and I can see why. 3.5 stars!

Adam introduced me to a couple of other fun Wilton drinking establishments during my time in SoFlo, all of which you should check out if you’re ever in town:


So what do you get when you combine fruity cocktails and 4:30pm (on a Sunday!) with a packed outdoor bar in Wilton Manors? So much fun! I had been to Rosie’s before, but never for drinks on a Sunday afternoon. It. Was. Packed! Rosie’s encapsulates the appropriateness of Fort Liquor-dale’s name; by 6:00pm the place was a regular shit-show. Though the crowd skewed older (being in your 30s makes one young…), the Rosie’s experience was still too much fun! The only low point was when some guy named Steven grabbed me from behind and lifted me off the ground, screaming that he wanted to take me home. Gross. But, hey, when isn’t it appropriate to (literally) pick up a total stranger and drunkenly shout at them? (*sigh*) Ya, so that was awkward. But after he let me go we had a short, entertaining conversation. It ended when he tried to pick me up again. Seriously, though, I don’t understand how anyone can think that that would be a good way to solicit sexual interest in someone else.


Adam affectionately calls this place “Smokey’s,” and one can see (and smell!) why immediately upon entering the establishment. As smoking is not illegal in Florida bars, and this place neither self-regulates nor is outside, the air is pretty disgusting as soon as you walk in. I guess it would be nice if I were a smoker, but you end up leaving smelling like an ashtray. And who wants to smell like an ashtray? The bar itself is pretty cool: billiards tables and flat screen TVs with loads of sports games dominate the landscape (though amidst all of the cruising, no one is watching any of the games on the TV). Most beer on tap in Wilton Manors, another plus.


It’s as cute as it sounds. A diamond-shaped bar sits at the center of the relatively small bar, and two Nintendo Wii games of Wii Bowling are simultaneously played at the back of the bar. So cool! If I ever opened up a bar, it would have lots of Nintendo Wiis. The bartenders are fun and they over-pour. So, what’s not to like?

I had so much fun hanging out with Adam during my two weeks at home. He’s still my only gay friend that lives in Lah-tee-dah, so it was nice to have him there to show me around the newly-available gay scene. Fort Lauderdale/Wilton Manors really does have a huge gay scene; the main problem, though, is that it is WAY older. My status as a 21-year-old was constantly received as a novelty, and the “You’re so young” comments got really old, really fast. Maybe my impression would be different had I had a 21-year-old “in the know” show me around, but I have my doubts. Then again, it’s hard when New York City is your standard for gay establishments.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll be back in Lawdy at the end of August, so maybe I’ll have some stories by then (I mean, I could recount all of the Liqour-dale bar conversations, but that would be boring, ya?).

Next stop, Hong Kong, China, Gaysia! Whoot.


3 thoughts on “Gay Fort Lauderdale (Actually, Wilton Manors, but “Gay Wilton Manors” is Redundant…), Part 2

  1. We just discovered the wonderful review that you wrote. We are thrilled with your endorsement and humbled by your compliments. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this endorsement of the Naked Grape Wine Bar. We hope you will visit us again when you return to South Florida.

    Tim and Caleb, owners
    Naked Grape Wine Bar

  2. Hi, just so you know Florida does have smokling rules. You can only smoke in bars that do not serve food or a certain low percentage of food. Also you will be happy to hear that Sidelines recently went smokeless and built a patio in the alley next to it for the smokers.

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