There was a new category in this section that threw readers for a loop in this year's ballot: "Best 'Cougar' Bar." Several voters noted they weren't familiar with the term, so we'll oblige: A "cougar" is an older woman who prefers the company of younger men.
A few put it on record that this is an offensive category, while two voted "Your mama's house," and another added helpfully, "Any bar my wife is in."
Best Local Band
Lord T & Eloise
Newcomers to this winning category, Lord T & Eloise clearly have won over Memphians with their clever rap lyrics and innovative stage show. The Dempseys held onto our ears and hearts with classics from decades gone by. Ditto for Lucero and their heartland whiskey tunes. All in all, eclectic is the only way to describe our readers' tastes.
Best Local Singer
Harlan T. Bobo
Di Anne Price
Women rule this category with jazz, rock, blues, Americana, and plenty of soul. From Beale Street staple Joyce Cobb to rising star Amy LaVere to the folksy intimacy of Susan Marshall to jazz stylist Di Anne Price, Memphis loves these women's voices. The sole male on this list, Harlan T. Bobo, rises to the top once again in this category, drawing votes with his heartsick love songs.
When Flyer readers want to contribute their dulcet tones to the famous music of Memphis, they head to the Windjammer. Most local karaoke hotspots give guests only one night a week to belt out their off-key renditions of "Friends in Low Places," but the good folks at the Windjammer face the music six nights a week. And our readers love that.
Best Hole in the Wall
2. P&H Café
Sometimes the best place to go is underground, the place non-locals have never heard of and probably wouldn't give a second thought to. That place, for readers, is Earnestine & Hazel's. An ex-brothel, Earnestine & Hazel's these days is known for its great burgers and cheap drinks.
Best College Hangout
2. R.P. Tracks
Open 'til the wee hours of the morning, Newby's is the perfect spot for local collegians to congregate and converse. With beer specials, barbecue, Bike Night, and bands, Newby's is the ideal place for young people to have more fun than they probably should.
Michele Fields, Calhoun's Sports Bar
Jeff Johnson, Newby's
Brad Pitts, Bari
When readers want to get their drink on, they turn to one of these three good folks. Sports-bar lovers flock to Michele Fields at Calhoun's. The college crowd — among others — prefers Jeff Johnson at Newby's. And last but not least, our readers show the love for Bari's Brad Pitts.
Best After-Hours Club
1. Raiford's/Hollywood Disco
3. Blue Monkey
After its grand reopening in 2007, Raiford's/Hollywood Disco is back on top. Offering live music, dancing, and drinks, Raiford's/Hollywood Disco is where the crowd heads to "party like a rock star" as the night goes on. And just to be sure that you arrive in style, the disco offers guests limousine service.
Best Pick-Up Joint
Sometimes, you go to bars to drink and socialize with your buds. Other times, you have, um, another agenda. When the libido needs a little action, Flyer readers have plenty of options. Some look for love over a pint of Guinness at Celtic Crossing, while others prefer the casual atmosphere of the Flying Saucer or either of the Blue Monkey locations. For those who prefer to dance their way into someone's pants, Raiford's/Hollywood Disco and Senses top the list.
Best "Cougar" Bar
BOM 1. Spindini
2. Blue Monkey — tie —
3. Cockeyed Camel — tie —
In Memphis, cougars find fresh meat at Spindini, where the younger men tend to be of the well-to-do variety. Hey, if you're going after a young dude, you want one with a good salary and some ambition, right?
Best Beer Selection
With more than 100 beers on tap (and now two locations in the area), it's no surprise this "beer nerd" bar won for best selection. Beer aficionados can choose between dark lagers, fruity pale ales, creamy stouts, or plain ol' domestics. The Saucer folks will even combine your favorites in one of their tasty mixed beers such as the sinfully delicious Chocolate Truffle (Young's Chocolate Stout and Linderman's Framboise).
Best Place To Get a Martini
2. Peabody Lobby Bar — tie — Dish
An entire page on Side Street's menu is dedicated to twists on the classic martini, and with names like the Coonass (a dirty martini prepared with Absolut Peppar) and Wedding Cake (vanilla vodka mixed with cranberry and pineapple), who can resist? The best part: All martinis can be supersized for a few extra bucks.
Best Place To Get a Margarita
1. Café Ole
If you haven't spent a warm summer night on the spacious Café Ole patio with a tall icy strawberry margarita in one hand and a salty tortilla chip in the other, you haven't really lived. Of course, most of you already have experienced Café Ole's tangy tequila cocktail or the restaurant wouldn't have won "Best Margarita." Now if only we had a category for "Best Salsa."
Best Happy Hour
3. Blue Monkey
It may seem strange that a chain restaurant always lands in our top three for "Best Happy Hour." But when a bar offers two-for-one specials all day long, well, that's one heck of a happy hour. In fact, that's more like a happy day.
Best Dance Club
1. Raiford's/Hollywood Disco
When owner/DJ Robert Raiford retired last year and closed his beloved disco club, the people spoke. They were upset, angry, depressed. Where, oh, where would they ever wear their silver polyester pantsuit again? But before folks could resign their retro Raiford's digs to a yard-sale rack, some nice businessmen stepped in to save the day. Now the dance floor is more crowded than ever.
With many bars jumping on the Internet jukebox wagon, it's nice that Earnestine & Hazel's is sticking to its old-school jukebox roots with a great selection of classic Motown, soul, blues, and jazz, including many influential local artists. There's no bad music on this jukebox, so you don't have to worry about listening to $5 worth of crappy songs.
Best Place To Shoot Pool
3. P&H Café
Pool halls have come a long way. Remember when they were filled with overweight, scary biker dudes who'd beat you in the back alley if you looked at them wrong? Or wait, maybe that was in a movie. Anyway, the Fox & Hound is nothing like that. Decent folks in khakis and polos play pool there on pay-by-the-hour, oversized billiards tables. There's nothing to be afraid of, really.
Best Sports Bar
2. Buffalo Wild Wings
Wow, our readers love Fox & Hound. Probably because, in addition to having plenty of quality pool tables, the bar boasts multiple TVs so fans won't miss a minute of the game. Sometimes, the bar even hosts pay-per-view UFC fighting matches.
Best Gay Bar
BOM 1. Backstreet
2. The Pumping Station
3. 1 More
As home to one of the largest dance floors in Memphis, a stunning drag show, and a slew of hot gay customers, how could Backstreet not win number one by a landslide? Now cue that Cher dance mix.
Best New Bar
1. The Cove
2. Calhoun's Sports Bar
3. Blue Monkey, downtown — tie —
Red Rooster Bar & Music Hall
Last year, Jim Marshall put the famous ship bar, nautical paintings, and rustic chandeliers from the late Anderton's East to a new use in his Broad Avenue oyster and cocktail bar. The retro décor was a big draw for first-time customers, but one taste of the Cove's hand-mixed signature cocktails, and they were hooked.Best of Food & Drink