It takes a full year of partying, dining, drinking and good times to prepare for the Atlantic City Weekly Nightlife Awards.

All of those times you listened to an incredible band, had an fantastic meal, felt the ocean breeze on your skin at a deck bar and commented to your friend on the Uber ride home how great the cocktails, were resulted in the knowledge necessary to name the 2018 Nightlife Award winners. Thousands of readers and nightlife aficionados answered the call to weigh in on our online ballot and to see which nightlife spots reigned supreme in 2017.

You voted (for the Readers’ Choice Awards). We voted (for the Critics’ Choice Awards). And now we’re ready to announce the winners of the 10th annual A.C. Weekly Nightlife Awards, which honors the local bars, restaurants and individuals that keep the good times rolling in Atlantic County.

Get in on the action

You can join us at Boogie Nights at Tropicana Atlantic City for the 2018 A.C. Weekly Nightlife Awards, sponsored by Stoli Vodka, Heineken and Gallo Wines, on Thursday, Feb. 22. Expect live performances, appearances from the movers and shakers that make Atlantic County’s nightlife scene awesome and, of course, plenty of drinks.

The night starts with an invite-only VIP party at 7 p.m. Ken Shiles & CiBon, 2018 Critics’ Choice for Best Casino Lounge Act, and Cheezy and the Crackers, 2018 Critics’ Choice for Best Original Band, will perform, while guests enjoy an array of small bites and open bar.

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Steven Andrade as Cher

Steven Andrade is Boogie Nights’ resident Cher impersonator. Catch him at the A.C. Weekly Nightlife Awards on Thurday.

Provided

General admission begins at 8 p.m., with the awards kicking off at 8:15 p.m. Presenters include Director of Entertainment Publications and radio personality Scott Cronick, At The Shore columnist and radio personality David Spatz, Iron Room Owner and Developer Mark Callazzo, Good Time Tricycle Founder Jon Henderson and more. They will hand out honors to all of the Nightlife winners listed here, as well as announce the winners of our five biggest awards: Best Daylife, Best DJ, Local Legend, Bar of the Year and Nightclub of the Year. In between the presentation of awards, there will be performances from some of A.C.’s best acts (see sidebar).

Drink specials for the night include $8 Bourbon Boogies and $18 Disco Ball drinks with $15 refills.

At 10 p.m. our celebration will be over, but the night is just beginning, as Boogie Nights will continue to party with its ‘90s-themed night.

A decade of nightlife greatness

Ten years ago Atlantic City was doing quite well. A boom of prosperity hit a few years before, and the city was coasting on that high.

It was then that Dave Pena, the nightlife expert behind Boogie Nights, then at Resorts, came up with an idea to celebrate the many businesses that were making Atlantic City America’s Playground. He approached Brian Cahill, marketing director of Resorts at the time, with the proposal. The two then went to former publisher of A.C. Weekly Lew Steiner to help facilitate their idea. Thus, the Nightlife Awards were born.

“There was a need to celebrate all of the fantastic nightlife, bars and clubs in Atlantic City,” Cahill says. “It gave a chance for the bartenders, waitresses and support staff of each of these clubs to get together to toast to each others’ success. We purposely held it during the week because we wanted to throw a party for the people who worked late every weekend.”

A lot has changed since then — Boogie Nights is in Tropicana, A.C. Weekly is now part of The Press of Atlantic City, and many clubs and bars have closed, with new ones taking their place. But, speaking with Cahill, it’s clear that the spirit of the Nightlife Awards remains the same.

“Although I can’t recall the exact winners (of the first Nightlife Awards), what I do recall is that the winners were a representation of a cross section of everything from major dance clubs to hotel bars,” he says. “Each of these venues were given a certificate, and those were proudly displayed at all of the winning venues. I’m extremely proud of that.”

And the winners are...

ENTERTAINMENT

(PRESENTED BY A.C. WEEKLY EDITOR PAMELA DOLLAK, ASSOCIATE EDITORS REBECCA KING AND RYAN LOUGHLIN)

Best place to listen to original music: Readers’ Choice: Watering Hole; Critics’ Choice: Proud Mary’s

Best original band: Readers’ Choice: Quasimodo’s Bride; Critics’ Choice: Cheezy and the Crackers

Best karaoke/open mic spot: Readers’ Choice: Planet Rose; Critics’ Choice: Clancy’s By The Bay

Best festival: Readers’ Choice: Elephants for Autism; Critics’ Choice: AC Beer & Music

Best dance floor: Readers’ Choice: Boogie Nights; Critics’ Choice: Haven

Best cover band: Readers’ Choice: Dane Anthony; Critics’ Choice: Eleven Eleven

Best concert venue: Readers’ Choice: Laguna Grill & Rum Bar; Critics’ Choice: The Music Box, Borgata

Best comedian: Readers’ Choice: Michelle Tomko; Critics’ Choice: Dupree Lee

Best casino lounge act: Readers’ Choice: Beth Tinnon; Critics’ Choice: Ken Shiles and CiBon

Best casino lounge bar for live entertainment: Readers’ Choice: Boardwalk Saloon at Wild, Wild West; Critics’ Choice: Eden Lounge

Best bar/restaurant for live local entertainment: Readers’ Choice: Ram’s Head Inn; Critics’ Choice: Yesterday’s

Best club dancers: Readers’ Choice: Boogie Nights;  Critics’ Choice: Kiss Kiss Atlantic City

Best DJ: Readers’ Choice: Aiden Scott

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

(PRESENTED BY SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER FOR THE TWIN RIVER CASINO MANAGEMENT GROUP PHIL JULIANO)

President and CEO of Tropicana Entertainment Tony Rodio

FOOD & DRINK

(Presented by columnist and radio personality David Spatz, owner of STW Hospitality Lee Sanchez and owner of The Iron Room Mark Callazzo)

Best tequila/rum bar: Readers’ Choice: Los Amigos; Critics’ Choice: Veracruz

Best bottle service: Readers’ Choice: Boogie Nights; Critics’ Choice: Premier

Best wine list (non-casino): Readers’ Choice: Ram’s Head Inn; Critics’ Choice: The Iron Room

Best wine list (casino): Readers’ Choice: The Palm; Critics’ Choice: Vic & Anthony’s

Best late night munchies: Readers’ Choice: Pic-A-Lilli Pub; Critics’ Choice: Hi Point Pub

Best happy hour (non-casino): Readers’ Choice: Ram’s Head Inn; Critics’ Choice: Sofia Restaurant

Best happy hour (casino): Readers’ Choice: Chart House; Critics’ Choice: Okatshe

Best cocktail bar (non-casino): Readers’ Choice: Ram’s Head Inn; Critics’ Choice: Steve & Cookies

Best cocktail bar (casino): Readers’ Choice: Chart House; Critics’ Choice: Angeline By Michael Symon

Best beer list (non-casino): Readers’ Choice: Vagabond Kitchen & Tap House; Critics’ Choice: Chickie’s & Pete’s (EHT)

Best beer list (casino): Readers’ Choice: Harry’s Oyster Bar; Critics’ Choice: Chickie’s & Pete’s (Trop)

GUYS & GIRLS STUFF

(MEDIA PERSONALITIES Chuck Darrows, MARC BERMAN AND WHITNEY ULLMAN)

Best guys’ night out (non-casino): Readers’ Choice: Dreams Atlantic City; Critics’ Choice: Wingcraft Kitchen & Beer Bar

Best guys’ night out (casino): Readers’ Choice: A Dam Good Sports Bar; Critics’ Choice: Firewaters

Best girls’ night out (non-casino): Readers’ Choice: Memories; Critics’ Choice: Back Bay Ale House

Best girls’ night out (casino): Readers’ Choice: Margaritaville; Critics’ Choice: Olon

Best place to pop the question: Readers’ Choice: Ram’s Head Inn; Critics’ Choice: Knife & Fork Inn

BARS & NIGHTCLUBS

(PRESENTED BY GOOD TIME TRICYCLE FOUNDER JON HENDERSON, NEAR DARK ENTERTAINMENT’S JASON GOLDFARB)

Best outdoor/deck bar: Readers’ Choice: Landshark Bar & Grill; Critics’ Choice: The Deck at Nugget

Best LGBT spot: Readers’ Choice: Rainbow Room; Critics’ Choice: Maynard’s

Best Irish bar: Readers’ Choice: Irish Pub; Critics’ Choice: RiRa

Best swanky bar/lounge: Readers’ Choice: Ram’s Head Inn; Critics’ Choice: Martorano’s

Best beach/pool bar: Readers’ Choice: Landshark Bar & Grill; Critics’ Choice: Laguna Grill & Rum Bar

Best bar you’ve never heard of: Readers’ Choice: Riverside Tavern; Critics’ Choice: VUE at the Claridge

Best after hours spot (non-casino): Readers’ Choice: Pic-a-lilli Pub; Critics’ Choice: Tony’s Baltimore Grill

Best after hours spot (casino): Readers’ Choice: Mountain Bar; Critics’ Choice: Anthem

Best local’s bar: Readers’ Choice: Riverside Tavern; Critics’ Choice: Fred & Ethel’s

Best bartender: Readers’ Choice: Cindi Kraly at Pic-A-Lilli Pub; Critics’ Choice: Lenny Schafer at The Iron Room

Best sports bar (non-casino): Readers’ Choice: Vagabond Kitchen & Tap House; Critics’ Choice: Tailgaters

Best sports bar (casino): Readers’ Choice: Hooters;Critics’ Choice: Chickie’s & Pete’s (Trop)

Best industry night: Readers’ Choice: Haven; Critics’ Choice: The Pool After Dark at Harrah’s

Best daylife: Readers’ Choice: Land Shark Bar & Grill

ADULTS ONLY

(PRESENTED BY OWNER OF PENA PRODUCTIONS DAVE PENA AND DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AT SHORE MEDICAL CENTER BRIAN CAHILL)

Best dive bar: Readers’ Choice: Pic-A-Lilli Pub; Critics’ Choice: Black Cat Bar & Grill

Best hook-up bar (non-casino): Readers’ Choice: Pic-A-Lilli Pub; Critics’ Choice: Wonder Bar

Best hook-up bar (casino): Readers’ Choice: Landshark Bar & Grill; Critics’ Choice: Gypsy Bar

Best cougar club: Readers’ Choice: Memories; Critics’ Choice: Kelsey’s

Best strip club: Readers’ Choice: Dreams Atlantic City; Critics’ Choice: Bare Exposure

BEST OF THE BEST

(PRESENTED BY MAYOR OF ATLANTIC CITY FRANK GILLIAM, TROPICANA GENERAL MANAGER STEVE CALLENDER, PUBLISHER OF PRESS OF A.C. MARK BLUM, RADIO PERSONALITY AND DIRECTOR OF ENTERTAINMENT PUBLICATIONS SCOTT CRONICK)

Best daylife nominees: The Deck, Bally’s Beach Bar, H20, Laguna Grill & Rum Bar, Bungalow Beach

Best DJ nominees: Jerry Blavat, Paul Castro, Chris Devine, Johnny B

Nightclub of the Year nominees: Haven, Premier, The Pool, Kiss Kiss Atlantic City, Boogie Nights

Bar of the Year nominees: Laguna Grill & Rum Bar, Pic-A-Lilli Pub, Vagabond Kitchen & Tap House, The Iron Room, Mountain Bar at Wild Wild West

Local Legend nominees (New category!): Crab Trap, Gregory’s, Charlie’s, Yesterday’s, Ventura’s Greenhouse