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A.C. Weekly's 2020 Nightlife Awards to return to Trop
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A.C. Weekly's 2020 Nightlife Awards to return to Trop

The Jersey Shore can be a lot of things to a lot of people. Some simply think of serene beaches, childhood vacations and a treasure trove of family memories. But in Atlantic County, it’s all about the nightlife. And that makes sense, considering America’s Playground Atlantic City serves as the backbone and crown jewel of the region, offering everything from concerts to comedy shows, fancy dinners to happy hours and all points between.

But this machine doesn’t just run itself. In order to remain a destination location for the northeast, the nightlife spots within Atlantic City and the surrounding area require real people to run them. That means bartenders, DJs, bands, dancers and countless other folks behind the scenes have to pour their blood, sweat and tears into making sure your weekend turns out as epic as you hoped it would be.

So once again we at A.C. Weekly have come together to pay tribute to the hard working folks within the industry at the 2020 Nightlife Awards to be held Thursday, Feb. 20, at Boogie Nights at Tropicana Atlantic City.

We the critics, along with thousands of readers, cast votes for who is the best of the best when it comes to Atlantic City’s nightlife scene, and now the votes are in. Over 50 categories in total will be presented, with awards ranging from Best Tequila Bar to Nightclub of the Year. And each will be honored live onstage. The evening will kick off with an invite-only VIP hour at 7 p.m. Doors open to the public at 8 p.m. with the awards beginning at 8:30 p.m. There will also be live performances from Dead Reckoning, Nancy Malcun and Miss’d America 2020 Sapphira Pageant, as well as a variety of special guest performers and presenters.

Curious as to who won what? The official list of winners is below. Well, most of it anyway. The winners of the biggest awards will be announced onstage at the Nightlife Awards, so to find out who won, you are going to have to attend. As for the rest…


Best casino lounge act (Readers’ Choice): Beth Tinnon

Best casino lounge act (Critics’ Choice): Nancy Malcun

Best casino lounge/bar for live entertainment (Readers’ Choice): Lobby Bar at Hard Rock

Best casino lounge/bar for live entertainment (Critics’ Choice): Tango’s Lounge

Best club dancers (Readers’ Choice): Boogie Nights

Best club dancers (Critics’ Choice): Kiss Kiss Nightclub

Best comedian (Readers’ Choice): Michelle Tomko

Best comedian (Critics’ Choice): Bob Levy

Best concert venue (Readers’ Choice): Anchor Rock Club

Best concert venue (Critics’ Choice): Ovation Hall

Best dance floor (Readers’ Choice): Boogie Nights

Best dance floor (Critics’ Choice): The Wave

Best festival (Readers’ Choice): Elephants for Autism

Best festival (Critics’ Choice): Witch-Craft

Best karaoke/open mic spot (Readers’ Choice): JD’s Pub

Best karaoke/open mic spot (Critics’ Choice): Brick House Pub & Grille

Best local band (Readers’ Choice): Quasimodo’s Bride

Best local band (Critics’ Choice): Dead Reckoning

Best bar/restaurant for live local entertainment (Readers’ Choice): Watering Hole Cafe

Best bar/restaurant for live local entertainment (Critics’ Choice): Bourre

Best DJ (Readers’ Choice): DJ Ken Schaffer


Cathy Burke

Cathy Burke has been a fixture in Atlantic City since she opened up The Irish Pub with her husband Richard in 1972. At that time there were no casinos in town and the nightlife scene was carried entirely on the backs of local clubs and bars. Over most of the last half century Burke has become an icon in A.C., much like The Irish Pub itself. A philanthropist in addition to being a businesswoman, Burke has served as the Chairwoman of The Irish Pub Children’s Foundation as well as being a founding member of the Atlantic City Police Foundation. Her generosity and love for Atlantic City as well as its visitors, workers and residents is an inspiration to all.


Best bartender (Readers’ Choice): Amanda Smith at Katina’s Kosmos

Best bartender (Critics’ Choice): Dan Leston at Assaggio!

Best beer list (casino) (Readers’ Choice): Villain & Saint

Best beer list (casino) (Critics’ Choice): Chickie’s & Pete’s (Tropicana)

Best beer list (non-casino) (Readers’ Choice): Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall

Best beer list (non-casino) Critics’ Choice: Vagabond Kitchen & Tap House

Best cocktail bar (casino) (Readers’ Choice): Wolfgang Puck American Grille

Best cocktail bar (casino) (Critics’ Choice): Bar One

Best cocktail bar (non-casino) (Readers’ Choice): Rhythm & Spirits

Best cocktail bar (non-casino) (Critics’ Choice): MADE Atlantic City Chocolate Bar

Best happy hour (casino) (Readers’ Choice): Margaritaville

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

Best happy hour (non-casino) (Readers’ Choice): Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall

Best happy hour (non-casino) (Critics’ Choice): Romanelli’s Garden Cafe

Best late night munchies (Readers’ Choice): Ducktown Tavern

Best late night munchies (Critics’ Choice): Tony’s Baltimore Grill

Best tequila bar (Readers’ Choice): Los Amigos

Best tequila bar (Critics’ Choice): Casa Taco and Tequila Bar

Best wine list (casino) Readers’ Choice: Council Oak Fish

Best wine list (casino) Critics’ Choice: The Palm

Best wine list (non-casino) (Readers’ Choice): Knife & Fork Inn

Best wine list (non-casino) (Critics’ Choice): The Iron Room


Best girls’ night out (casino) (Readers’ Choice): Gypsy Bar

Best girls’ night out (casino) (Critics’ Choice): Cuba Libre

Best girls’ night out (non-casino) (Readers’ Choice): Maynard’s Cafe

Best girls’ night out (non-casino) (Critics’ Choice): MADE Atlantic City Chocolate

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

Best guys’ night out (casino) (Critics’ Choice): Mountain Bar/Boardwalk Saloon

Best guys’ night out (non-casino) Readers’ Choice: Riverside Tavern

Best guys’ night out (non-casino) (Critics’ Choice): Charlie’s Bar

Best place to pop the question (Readers’ Choice): Kuro

Best place to pop the question (Critics’ Choice): Sofia Restaurant

Best sports bar (casino) Readers’ Choice: DraftKings Sportsbook;

Best sports bar (casino) (Critics’ Choice): The Book at Bally’s Wild Wild West

Best sports bar (non-casino) (Readers’ Choice): Tailgaters

Best sports bar (non-casino) (Critics’ Choice): Chickie’s & Pete’s (EHT)


Best beach/pool bar (Readers’ Choice): Landshark Bar & Grill

Best beach/pool bar (Critics’ Choice): Bally’s Beach Bar

Best bottle service (Readers’ Choice): HQ2

Best bottle service (Critics’ Choice): DAER Nightclub

Best daylife (Readers’ Choice): HQ2 Beachclub

Best Irish bar (Readers’ Choice): The Irish Pub

Best Irish bar (Critics’ Choice): Josie Kelly’s Public House

Best LGBTQ spot (Readers’ Choice): Rhythm & Spirits

Best LGBTQ spot (Critics’ Choice): Bourre

Best locals’ bar (Readers’ Choice): Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall

Best locals’ bar (Critics’ Choice): Fred & Ethel’s Lantern Light Restaurant & Tavern

Best outdoor/deck bar (Readers’ Choice): Landshark Bar & Grill

Best outdoor/deck bar (Critics’ Choice): Wonder Bar

Best swanky bar/lounge (Readers’ Choice): 1927 Lounge & Speakeasy

Best swanky bar/lounge (Critics’ Choice): VUE at The Claridge Hotel

Best after hours spot (casino) (Readers’ Choice): HQ2

Best after hours spot (casino) (Critics’ Choice): Anthem Lounge

Best after hours spot (non-casino) (Readers’ Choice): Wonder Bar

Best after hours spot (non-casino) (Critics’ Choice): Ducktown Tavern

Best industry night (Readers’ Choice): HQ2;

Best industry night (Critics’ Choice): Premier Nightclub


Best dive bar (Readers’ Choice): B&B Saloon

Best dive bar (Critics’ Choice): Chelsea Pub

Best hook-up bar (casino) (Readers’ Choice): Boogie Nights

Best hook-up bar (casino) (Critics’ Choice): The Pool After Dark at Harrah’s

Best hook-up bar (non-casino) (Readers’ Choice): Maynard’s Cafe

Best hook-up bar (non-casino) (Critics’ Choice): Caroline’s By The Bay

Best cougar club (Readers’ Choice): Boogie Nights

Best cougar club (Critics’ Choice): Memories

Best strip club (Readers’ Choice): Bare Exposure

Best strip club (Critics’ Choice): Bare Exposure

BEST OF THE BEST (to be announced at the event)

Best daylife nominees: Sweetwater Riverdeck, HQ2 BeachClub, Laguna Grill & Rum Bar, Back Bay Ale House

Best DJ nominees: Jason Weiss (DAER Nightclub), Vito G (The Pool), DJ Jason E (Martrano’s), DJ Gabor (Boogie Nights)

Local Legend nominees: The Irish Pub, Baremore Tavern at Historic Smithville Inn, Charlie’s Bar, Gregory’s

Bar of the Year nominees: Vagabond Kitchen & Tap House, Gypsy Bar, Josie Kelly’s Public House, Rhythm & Spirits, The Deck at Golden Nugget

Nightclub of the Year nominees: The Pool at Harrah’s, DAER Nightclub, Premier, Boogie Nights, HQ2

The befores and afters

Sure the Nightlife Awards will be the hottest party in town,

but like any big event, there needs to be some solid pre and post-game options. For the pre-party, once again Tropicana will host their annual city-wide Margarita Contest. Located in the Chelsea Tower ballroom, this competition starts at 5 p.m. and will feature a variety of bars and restaurants from Atlantic City all going head to head in a three-round competition to see who has the top margarita in town. Judges will be on hand to decide the winner as each of the contestants will be given a list of ingredients that must be incorporated into their cocktail. Think of it as a boozy version of “Chopped.” Attendees will also be given the opportunity to sample and vote for their favorite in the Fan Favorite category. The event is free and open to the public and will be hosted by Scotty & JoJo from 100.7 WZXL. Guests must be over 21 to attend.

After the Nightlife Awards all you have to do is stick around, as Boogie Nights will resume its normal duties as one of the hottest clubs in town with $6 drink specials, half-price select bottles before midnight and DJ Gabor spinning hits from the 90s and 2000s.

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