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The Go Guide Places, people and life with Ben Crandell

Weekend preview: Take a walk on the Wilder side

There is an almost palpable warmth in the air at a hangout designed by Vanessa and David Cardaci, a spirit welcoming, honest, open, organic, uncomplicated and impossible to simulate.

It is there in the rolling garage doors they retained at one of their first ventures, the Whole Enchilada in downtown Fort Lauderdale, and under the twinkling tree in the Airstream-edged garden at their popular Rhythm and Vine lounge nearby, and inside the chummy storefront beer bar they just opened in Victoria Park, Growlers and Howlers.

But the most interesting forum for their particular brand of joie de vivre is at the Cardacis’ newest endeavor, the Wilder, an elegantly urbane tavern opening with quiet confidence on Monday, Dec. 11, a few doors west of the Foxy Brown restaurant on Broward Boulevard.

Aimed at the, uh, maturing downtown drinker who may feel somewhat estranged from the Tinder box at Rhythm and Vine, the Wilder is a dramatic set, with rich wood, brass and dark-velvet banquettes, lights low, drinks thoughtfully curated, courtesy of a cocktail maestro, Marko Tomovic, hired from the swank Faena Miami Beach.

You may not be sure you are still in Fort Lauderdale. With all due respect. Vanessa Cardaci does hope visitors think of it as “an escape.”

“When you step into the Wilder, it’s very warm, it’s very inviting, but at the same time it’s also very elevated and enticing,” she says. “It sort of makes you feel like you’re checking into your favorite boutique hotel.”

Other things to know about the Wilder: The main bar will have a DJ on some nights, but not a DJ! There are more than 100 parking spots in back, all free. Destined to be a destination is a large, lovely patio, hidden by foliage, with a tree as a centerpiece. The cocktails are a focus, but there will be Bud Light.

Cardaci says she and her husband settled on the name for the Wilder because it had an air of a refined inn in a large international city. Its literary allusion didn’t hurt, she says.

Many visitors will probably enter the Wilder through doors off the patio on the east side of the building, but it is the front door, with its gleaming brass plaque announcing “The Wilder,” that leads to one of its most inviting spots, the smaller bar seen through the large windows just a few feet from the hum of Broward Boulevard.

More than a comfortable spot to enjoy a quiet drink on one of a dozen or so stools, this front bar is an overture, an invitation to the casual passerby, to the neighborhood, to the town. Thornton Wilder would be proud.

The Wilder, located at 701 E. Broward Blvd., will be open 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-3 p.m. Fridays, 1 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturdays and 2-11 p.m. Sundays. For more information, visit IntoTheWilder.com.

COULD GET UGLY

Christmas Party at Barrel of Monks Brewing in Boca Raton 1-5 p.m. Saturday will include an ugly sweater contest, a sexy Santa contest and a $2 discount on bottles of their prized Father Christmas with a toy donation (Facebook.com/BarrelOfMonks) … The venerable Frog Lounge in Delray Beach will host its third annual Redneck Xmas Costume Contest Party 7 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday, with a pig roast and cups of PBR everywhere you look (Facebook.com/TheFrogLounge) … The Bad Santa Bus Loop will return to downtown Fort Lauderdale 6-11 p.m. Dec. 15 to benefit a variety of local causes (Jessica June Children's Cancer Foundation, the Jack & Jill Center and Covenant House Florida among them), with tickets on sale for $30 until 1 p.m. Dec. 15, $35 at the event (BusLoop.org) … The Ugly Holiday Sweater Pub Crawl in downtown West Palm Beach, a Toys for Tots benefit, is 2-8 p.m. Dec. 16, with tickets $25 until Saturday and $40 at the event (UglySweaterCrawlWPB.com).

SEASON’S GREETINGS

Lisa and Julian Siegel of the Riverside Market empire will celebrate Hanukkah Dec. 12-20 at Riverside Market Plantation with Havanakah: Concrete Beach Brewery’s Havana Lager and made-to-order latkes. At Riverside Market South on Dec. 19, the annual menorah lighting will include latkes and a selection of beers from Schmaltz Brewing Co. And on Dec. 20 at the original Riverside Market, the Christmahanakwanzika festivities, co-hosted by Cigar City and Oskar Blues, will include new holiday releases, latkes and a prize for that very ugly sweater of yours (Facebook.com/RiversideMarket).

MATZO BALLING

You don’t have to be Jewish to love the Matzo Ball, the annual Jewish singles parties taking place across the country on Dec. 24, including at three South Florida hot spots. The Delray Beach event will be at Il Bacio ($30); Fort Lauderdale’s party is at Vibe Las Olas ($30), and on Miami Beach the 9 p.m. gathering is at Story ($50, VIP $100). Visit MatzoBall.org.

SUN RUN FUN

The 30th annual Toys in the Sun Run, the iconic motorcycles-and-music benefit for the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation and James Jr. Fund, returns to Markham Park on Sunday with full-throttle sounds from headliners Scott Stapp of Creed and Jackyl. Beginning at Festival Marketplace in Pompano Beach at 9:30 a.m., the “world’s largest motorcycle parade” will carry toys for sick children to Markham Park in Sunrise, where more than 30,000 people are expected for six bands on three stages, custom car, motorcycle and truck shows, a food court and more than 100 vendors. Admission costs $20 with an unwrapped toy, $30 without a toy. Visit ToysInTheSunRun.com.

WEEKEND BEERS

Bangin' Banjo Brewing in Pompano Beach at 2 p.m. Friday will unveil its limited edition (100 bottles at $12 each) Black & Blue Double IPA, thick with blackberries and blueberries (Facebook.com/BanginBanjoBrewing) … NoBo Brewing in Boynton Beach will release the cinnamon-y Checkin It Twice Winter Ale 3-11 p.m. Friday (Facebook.com/NoBoBrewing) … Florida International University’s North Miami Brew Fest will bring beer from some favorite breweries, food trucks, live music, lawn games and seminars to the plaza at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets (with unlimited tastings) cost $40 (NorthMiamiBrewFest.com).

UP YOUR ALLEY

Subculture Coffee on Clematis in downtown West Palm Beach on Friday will throw the final Tacos and Hip Hop party of the year, no doubt an extra hot affair in the cool air that’s forecast. As always the 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. alley party will have music from Selecta Steve and Ddubz, Zipitios tacos and a hip crowd. Admission is free for those 21 and older, $5 ages 18-plus. Visit Facebook.com/SubcultureCoffee.

ART BASEL ABRIDGED

Art Basel may feel more like Art Hassle, but a few hours standing in the refracted glow of it all can be therapeutic. One of the best places to do it will be Wynwood Yard. On Friday night, they’ve got local favorites Afrobeta and Millionyoung, with sets by EONS and DJ Lolo, followed on Saturday by Electric Kif (happy hour), Magic City Hippies and Locos Por Juana. It’s all free. At around 11:45 p.m. Saturday, the Yard will turn on Silent Disco, with admission and headphones starting at $17.89. Visit Facebook.com/TheWynwoodYard.

WEEKEND COMEDY

Broken Lizard bad boys Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme take over the Palm Beach Improv for multiple shows Thursday (Dec. 7) through Sunday, so be prepared to be pulled up onstage to answer trivia questions about their movies "Super Troopers" and "Beerfest." The grand prize will be leaving with your dignity intact. Tickets: $22. Visit PalmBeachImprov.com.

BUT SERIOUSLY

Tough time to be a comedian who’s made his reputation with no-holds-barred takedowns of society’s scoundrels and hypocrites, who’s also pals with accused sexual bully Louis C.K. That may make Bill Burr’s Dec. 14 performance at Hard Rock Live even more of a must-see. Tickets: $40-$85. Visit MyHRL.com.

WEEKEND SHOPPING

Indie Craft Bazaar will bring its array of art and handmade inventiveness to Revolution Live in downtown Fort Lauderdale noon-5 p.m. Sunday, when you’ll find offerings from more than 65 local artists, designers and makers, food and drink specials and a kid-friendly DIY booth to make your own holiday ornament . Admission is $5, younger than 11 free. Visit Facebook.com/IndieCraftBazaar.

TAKE THE KIDS

Friday’s free, holiday-themed Screen on the Green festivities on the West Palm Beach Waterfront are highlighted by a screening of “Frozen” at 6:30 p.m. and the Jim Carrey comedy “Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at 8:30 p.m. (WPB.org/events) … Florida Grand Opera hosts the free Family Fun Day at the Miami Children’s Museum noon-4 p.m. Sunday with events that conclude with a live performance of the family-friendly opera “Hansel and Gretel” (MiamiChildrensMuseum.org) … The free, fifth annual FAU Tuba Christmas will offer a unique take on the sounds of the season at the Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton 5 p.m. Sunday (MyBoca.us).

WEEKEND MOVIE

The very future of American society seemed to be at stake when Joanna Drayton (played by Katharine Houghton) introduced her wealthy liberal parents (Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy) to her fiance, a handsome doctor, who happened to be black (Sidney Poitier), in the 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” And it was a comedy! Directed by Stanley Kramer, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” which took Oscars for its screenplay and Hepburn’s moderating performance, held up for examination the prevailing prejudices of the day about race, equality and freedom that, 50 years later, now seem so distant. A-hem. Presented by TCM Big Screen Classics, it will screen in a handful of South Florida theaters from Royal Palm Beach to South Beach at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday. Visit FathomEvents.com.

OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS

Next Door at C&I Studios in Fort Lauderdale’s FAT Village plugs in Northbound, Back Home, Woolbright, Migrate, Letters to Part and the Blonde Tongues 8 p.m. Friday (Facebook.com/CIStudios) … Zen Mystery in Dania Beach hosts the All Original Songwriter Series: Karen Feldner & Friends 7-11 p.m. Saturday with Feldner joined by Mark Dubin, Chris Korzen and Mathew Sabatella (Facebook.com/ZenMystery) … Americana duo 33 Years and 807 will play a few numbers beginning at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Funky Buddha Lounge in Boca Raton (Facebook.com/33yrs) … Respectable Street in West Palm Beach has of Montreal, Christina Schneider’s Genius Grant and Dead and Loving It 9 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/RespectableStreet) … The Holidazed are at Dada in Delray Beach 11 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/DadaDelray) … The Jon Greco Band plays a Christmas reunion show at Tim Finnegans in Delray Beach 6:30 p.m. Sunday (Facebook.com/TheJonGrecoBand) … Alex Di Leo and Jet Black Alley Cat join the Memphis alt-rock trio The Band Camino 6 p.m. Monday at Gramps in Miami (Facebook.com/AlexDiLeoMusic) …

bcrandell@sun-sentinel.com

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