The hottest clubs In town

If you're like most people who enjoy visiting new cities but don't always know where the best nightspots are located, Nightclub & Bar magazine can be of assistance.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the magazine's Top 100 Clubs:

32 Degrees, Philadelphia
Ampersand, New Orleans
Avalon & Spider Club, Los Angeles
B&G Oysters Ltd., Boston
B.B. King's Blues Club, Memphis
Baja Sharkeez/Newman Hospitality, Manhattan Beach, CA
Banana Joe’s, Marion, OH
Bar Anticipation, South Belmar, NJ
Bar Twenty 3, Nashville
Barmuda Corp.: Becks, Coconuts, Jokers, Voodoo, Cedar Falls, IA
Barracuda/Concept Entertain Group, Portland, OR
Billy Bob's Texas, Fort Worth, TX
Blue Note, New York
Bobby McGee's, Phoenix
Boogie Nights, Fort Lauderdale
Café Iguana, Fort Lauderdale
Cafe Sevilla, San Diego
Caramel Bar and Lounge at Bellagio, Las Vegas
Casbah/Trump Taj Mahal Casino, Atlantic City, NJ
Catalina Bar & Grill, Hollywood, CA
Churchill's Pub, Miami
Club Chameleon / Chameleon Studios, Las Vegas
Club Clau, Cincinnati
Club Deep, Miami Beach
Club La Vela, Panama City Beach, FL
Copacabana, New York
Crobar, Miami
Crocodile Cafe, Seattle
Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis
Dave & Buster's, Dallas
Denim, Philadelphia
Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, Seattle
Dream, Washington, DC
Elements, The Lounge, Sea Bright, NJ
Excalibur/Ala Carte Entertainment, Chicago
GameWorks, Glendale, CA
ghostbar (Palms Casino), Las Vegas
Green Parrot Bar, Key West, FL
House of Blues, Hollywood, CA
Howl at the Moon, Covington, KY
ICE, Las Vegas
Infinity Room, Minneapolis
Jazz At Pearl's, San Francisco
Jazz Bakery, Culver City, CA
Jillian's, Louisville, KY
Jocks & Jills and Frankie's Sports Grill, Atlanta
Kahunaville, Wilmington, DE
Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub, Portland, OR
Key Club, West Hollywood, CA
Le Passage, Chicago
Long Street, Columbus, OH
Manitoba's, New York
Marquee, New York
Matrix, Orlando, Fl
Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ
McDuffy's Sportsbar, Tempe, AZ
Mercy Wine Bar, Addison, TX
Metropolis, Orlando, FL
Mickey's Hangover, Scottsdale, AZ
Mike's Treehouse, Dallas
NASCAR Cafe, Greensboro, NC
Pin-Up Bowl, St. Louis
Polly Esthers (The Danceplex), New York
Rain In the Desert (Palms Casino)m, Las Vegas
Raleigh Hotel/Oasis Lounge, Miami Beach
Red Star, Houston
Roostertail, Inc., Detroit
Rudy's Bar and Grill, New York
Scott Gertner's Skybar, Houston
Senses, Memphis
Shooters, Saginaw, MI
Sloppy Joe's, Key West, FL
Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, New Orleans
Studio 54/MGM Grand, Las Vegas
T.J. Mulligan's, Memphis
Tabu Ultra Lounge/MGM Grand, Las Vegas
The Beach, Las Vegas
The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville
The Bosco, Ferndale, MI
The Cafe Wha?, New York
The Derby, Los Angeles
The Fillmore, San Francisco
The Funky Butt At Congo Square, New Orleans
The Highlands, Hollywood. CA
The Library Bar & Grill, Tempe, AZ
The Longbranch Entertainment Complex, Raleigh, NC
The New Crown & Anchor, Provincetown, MA
The Polo Lounge/Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA
The Potion Lounge, New York
The Swamp, Ft. Walton Beach, FL
The Viper Room, Los Angeles
The Water Tank , Austin, TX
Tipitina's, New Orleans
Tonic Night Club, Pontiac, MI
Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville
Velvet, St. Louis
Village Vanguard, New York
Whisky A Go-Go. West Hollywood, CA
Zeldaz Nightclub & Beachclub, Palm Springs, CA

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Passing the Bar(s)

Bars, as in drinking establishments, often become historic places because of the people or events they've hosted. In New York State alone, there are many such examples.

One example is Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan. George Washington bade farewell to his troops there on Dec. 4, 1783, nine days after the last British troops left our shores. Today it remains a popular tourist restaurant-tavern spot as well as a museum.

Bars, as in the things customers lean on while sipping a drink, themselves often become historical. Take New York's Capital Region, for example. It's the longest settled (by Europeans, that is) part of the state and is so steeped in history that even its new bars have old bars.

Take the spectacular African mahogany bar that stretches nearly 50 feet through the center of Smith's restaurant in Cohoes, N.Y., just outside the capital city of Albany. Its provenance is traced back to the infamous 19th Century Tammany Hall political headquarters in New York City and has been in Smith's since the 1930s. It was brought there by old-time political power broker Mike Smith from its original site.

Tammany Hall was a political organization that sprang up after the American Revolution and wielded far-reaching power until the late 1960s. Smith's itself has been around since 1873, as pool hall, a tavern, speakeasy and family restaurant. But above all, it's been a Democratic political hangout. Step through the front door and you're immediately in a time warp -- you half-expect to see portly men in bowler hats making deals in the long, dark taproom that leads to the dining room.

Nearby, just across the Hudson River in Troy, a new establishment called Ryan's Wake was designed around a gem of a 26-foot Cuban mahogany bar that owner Chris Ryan bought at auction from the estate of the late Col. B.A. Gill, an Albany collector of historiana. Its provenance begins in the nearby little city of Amsterdam and dates to the late 1890s. It had been in steady use for decades, then went into storage for 30 years before Ryan acquired it.

Another famous New York City bar -- the leaning-on kind -- was recently rescued from the Gramercy Park Hotel in Manhattan.

New owner Ian Schrager, who has a string of East Coast Euro-chic hotels including the Hudson and the Paramount in New York, wanted to demolish the bar area. A group of Long Islanders wanted to preserve the bar itself that served guests attending Humphrey Bogart's 1926 wedding to actress Helen Mencken, so they bought it. It was reassembled and installed at the Santorini North Fork Inn in Cutchogue, smack in the heart of Long Island wine country.

Schrager, by the way, has nothing against nice bars. The Library, one of two bars in the Hudson hotel (356 West 58th St.) is a gem with its English club library theme decor, skilled bartenders and beaten-copper ice tub full of champagne splits.

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Wheat Whiskey Debuts

Vodka doesn’t have a monopoly on variety despite what the never-ending stream of new vodkas might make you think. Look at the world of American whiskies.

Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc. has released Bernheim Original Kentucky Straight Whiskey, the first wheat whiskey to enter the market, according to the Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau.

Bernheim Original is a small-batch 90-proof whiskey aged for five years. The 750 ml bottle has a suggested retail price of $39.99. It conforms to government regulations requiring at least 51% of a specific grain to be able to be called by that name, such as wheat whiskey.

The Bernheim name comes from the Bernheim Distillery in Bardstown, Ky., where Heaven Hill distills all its whiskeys.

Why wheat whiskey rather than corn?

"Using wheat was a complete experiment from the beginning," master distiller Parker Beam said in an announcement. "As we tested it in the early years it seemed to mature at an accelerated pace and took on a sophistication typically reserved for older spirits. The wheat contributes a much richer, more mellow flavor to the whiskey."

The whiskey is currently available in 12 markets – New York, Kentucky, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Colorado.

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Beaming Up Starbucks, Phase 2

Starbucks Coffee Liqueur did so well that Starbucks and Jim Beam Brands have decided to bring out a second jointlydeveloped product: Starbucks Cream Liqueur. It contains a blend of cream, premium spirits and coffee.

A 750ml bottle retails at an average price of $22.99. The product also is available in 1 liter and 50ml sizes. They will be sold in retail stores as well as in restaurants and bars, but not in Starbucks stores.

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Han-gover Free Vodka

The makers of Han vodka, a popular Chinese brand about to make its U.S. debut, say their process guarantees a no-hangover beverage.

California, often the arbiter of all cultural fads, will get first crack at Han because Progressive Beverages, a Culver City, CA, company, has signed an agreement with Han.

"Over the past three years, Progressive and its ... advisors focused on developing a truly unique alternative to standard western vodka," said Progressive's president Bill Palmer in an announcement.

That alternative is a barley vodka product made with pure spring water and distilled four times. Its makers say it is filtered through a micro-carbon freeze filtration process. That is said to preserve natural amino acids, which help drinkers metabolize alcohol and, therefore, recover more quickly.

Progressive is expected to start major distribution drives across California before venturing into other markets.

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Still More On the Vodka Scene

Just when you thought vodka mavens might have run out of ideas comes High Spirits Prickly Pear Vodka, Arizona's finest.

The first distillery in the state is believed to be producing the only such vodka on the globe. Co-owners Dave Williamson and Dana Kanzler decided to branch out at their Flagstaff micro-brewery, Mogollon Brewing Co., because the beer business had been going a little flat.

As the Arizona Republic newspaper noted, "For Williamson, 48, and Kanzler, 39, a 3 1/2-year struggle to get their $115,000 state-of-the-art German still legalized and approved for human consumption is almost over. The partners are one small federal approval away from stocking their product in liquor stores and supermarkets across the country."

"We should be in the stores sometime in November," Williamson, a former liquor salesman, told the newspaper.

The still can produce up to 5,000 six-bottle cases a month for their Arizona High Spirits brand. The initial product will be the 70-proof prickly pear vodka, a slightly sweet, pale pink vodka. Next will come a more traditional 80-proof vodka and a mesquite-smoked whiskey called Lawless Arizona Sippin' Shine.

Their goal: a slice of the $25-$30 per bottle high-end market that has been growing rapidly in recent years.

Their Mogollon Brewing Co., established in 1997, produces Kanzler's beers, including Apache Trout Stout and Superstition Pale Ale.

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On The Whisk(e)y Front

Michael Collins Returns: Irish whisky sales are up 15% in the United States in the past year, so it's no wonder American distributor Sidney Frank Importing is trying to get a piece of the pot. SFI has signed a contract with Cooley Distillery, Ireland's only independent whisky maker, to supply it with a liquor branded with the name of Irish patriot Michael Collins, right. The Times of London quoted SFI chief executive Lee Einsidler as saying he expects Cooley to supply 50,000 cases of whisky in the first year of their deal. “We eventually hope to bring the brand worldwide,” said Einsidler, who also revealed that there will be two types of whisky -- an original blend and a single malt, both aimed at the ultra premium end of the market. SFI has trademarked the Michael Collins name with a percentage of sales to be paid to Collins' descendants who will donate to various charities.

Beam's Mark? Where once they were rivals, Jim Beam and Maker's Mark soon will be part of the same team. Fortune Brands, which owns Jim Beam Brands, is in the process of buying up Maker's Mark as the spirits industry continues undergoing a contraction in terms of how many different companies exist. The Federal Trade Commission already has cleared the path for Fortune Brands to acquire Maker's Mark from French drinks company Pernod Ricard. Fortune, which has been on a buying spree, is acquiring or has acquired Maker's and more than 20 other spirits and wine brands for about $5 billion. Jim Beam, by the way, continues to be the largest selling bourbon in the world.

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Stoli Surveys Juke Joints

Stolichnaya Vodka is working like mad on its image, on several fronts.

First, it recently unveiled Stoli elit (small "e," please), a new super-premium triple-distilled vodka sold mostly in California but set to hit higher-end clubs, restaurants and stores on the East Coast and elsewhere during the holidays.

Next, it has put a new polling gimmick into place at selected spots around the country to get consumer input in a very direct way.

The polling campaign uses Web-based jukeboxes to survey patrons in clubs and bars. Through touch-screen technology, they can select from among 200,000 songs, then input opinions on what the next flavord Stoli should be -- passion fruit, caramel, blueberry or pomegranate.

The jukebox service, incidentally, comes from a San Francisco company called Ecast. Stoli isn't its first try working with an alcoholic beverage company. Ecast partnered with Heineken brewers for its "Music for Life" promotion by using a Web interactive music-trivia campaign run via Ecast's broadband media network during the summer.

Ecast, founded in 1999, says its jukebox network is growing at the rate of 150 venues per month, currently hitting 4,200 locations, mostly bars and restaurants.

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