Best Of 2011: Joanie Cox

1. The Forge Restaurant

432 W. 41st St., Miami Beach, 305-534-4536, Theforge.com

The unlimited create-your-own Bloody Mary Bar is the perfect way to wrap up a weekend of partying in South Beach. To complement the habanero-infused cocktails, the Forge displays a gourmet buffet with Bloody Mary grouper seviche, steak and eggs, and spinach blintzes. Mimosas and coffee with free refills are also available.

2. Bongo’s Cuban Cafe

5733 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 954-791-3040, Bongoscubancafe.com

Gloria Estefan referred to her restaurant’s mojitos as “nuclear lemonade” on Oprah.com, and I couldn’t agree more with the Miami singer. Living in South Florida, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect mojito for years, so when my friends come down here, I can confidently take them for the best mojitos in town. The fresh, muddled mint leaves and lemon juice make all the difference.

3. The Office

201 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, 561-276-3600, Theofficedelray.com

Served on a fluffy bun branded with the Office’s logo, this thick, juicy burger is cooked to order and garnished with sweet gherkin pickles and a cherry tomato. There have been several points in my life where I considered becoming a vegetarian and this burger is the reason I can’t go through with it.

4. GBS

21302 Saint Andrews Blvd., Boca Raton, 561-394-5008, Gbsbeauty.com (with additional locations in Coral Gables, AventuraPinecrest, West Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale)

It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by beauty products, but GBS and its helpful staff will have you looking great without spending a fortune on unnecessary items. The salons at these stores offer affordable cuts and color, and the store carries everything from hair- and skin-care products to the latest in makeup and nail trends. When I went on my quest to find Kate Middleton’s Allure polish by Essie, which she wore on her wedding day, GBS was one of the first shops to stock it.

5. Jessica Keeny at Nail Depot

157 E. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, 561-347-7496, Thenaildepotsalon.com

I have been to more than 20 nail salons during my lifetime, and finding the right manicurist/pedicurist isn’t easy, but Jessica Keeny is my sole mate. She’s consistent, her tools are always clean and she’s meticulous about her polishing jobs. She never misses an unruly cuticle and she takes her time with her clients, making sure the pedicure water is the ideal temperature and that every callus is buffed away. To top it all off, she’s a better listener than any bartender in town. Now that this has come out, I’ll probably never be able to get an appointment with her. You can thank me later.

Joan Jett played the Hard Rock Live in July

6. Hard Rock Live 

At the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 5747 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 954-797-5531, Hardrocklivehollywoodfl.com

I love seeing shows at Hard Rock Live because there’s no charge for parking, there’s no shortage of places post-show to grab a cocktail and there’s not a bad seat in this venue. In addition to standard concert fare such as popcorn, beer and liquor, Hard Rock Live also offers a carving station on the first floor of the theater, where you can get a roasted turkey sandwich and cranberry sauce.

7. Ritz Carlton South Beach

1 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 786-276-4000, Ritzcarlton.com

This swanky spa lives up to its name. One of my favorite aspects of this spa is that once within its walls, you’d never know the hustle of Lincoln Road was just steps away. While it offers standard massages and body wraps like any spa, there are a few original ones. The Drift To Sleep treatment begins with a lavender milk bath, and the therapist uses reiki to send you into a tranquil state. But the best part of this massage is not having to rush off the table. Before heading back out into the real world, you get a half-hour nap with a toasty blanket.

8. DJ Irie

Djirie.com

DJ Irie is not only the official DJ of the Miami Heat, he’s also the unofficial DJ of Miami. Whether he’s mixing an open-format mashup at LIV or DJ’ing Irie Weekend to raise money for the local Boys and Girls Clubs and the Irie Foundation, an organization that assists South Florida youth in need, Irie stays connected to the people in the community. The former boarding-school roommate of Sean Paul and friend to DJ AM takes pride in making himself accessible to the crowds he spins for. Whether he’s touring as Jamie Foxx’s DJ or working on his “Peace Thru Music” jewelry line for Levinson Jewelers, and no matter how big Irie’s empire gets, he’s still all about the music and getting people to dance as if it’s the last night of their lives.

9. Broward Center for the Performing Arts

201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-462-0222, Browardcenter.org

Broward Center for the Performing Arts is the best place to have a New York minute in South Florida. The Broadway Across America series this year has brought classic musicals such as West Side Story, Hair, Les Mis¿érables and Mamma Mia!¿¿ to Fort Lauderdale. I used to take random trips to Manhattan purely because I missed seeing amazing Broadway shows, but I don’t have to do that anymore. Many of the cast members who travel to this theater for various shows have appeared in Broadway productions, and the theater itself has comfortable seats and ample leg room, so you don’t feel as if you’re lying on top of the people around you.

10. Benefit Brow Bar

Inside Macy’s, 5700 W. Glades Road, Boca Raton, 561-393-4235, Benefitcosmetics.com

There’s nothing worse than running late for a date or special occasion, hitting the mall for a new outfit and completely forgetting about the unruly hair forests sprouting over your eyes. The Benefit Brow Bar has been my eyebrow-shaping salvation in the midst of many fashion emergencies. The salon has locations at Macy’s in Boca Raton, Aventura and Miami, so regardless of where I am, I can still get help for my brows. I frequent the Boca Raton location, where Sheila Gagliardi meticulously waxes and plucks my brows to complement my natural arch. Her tools and work space are always bright and clean, and the $20 brow-shaping includes a complimentary concealer application to my eyelids to make sure I don’t run out of the chair looking red. As an added bonus, the service is free on your birthday.

Contact Joanie Cox at jcox@citylinkmagazine.com.