Want some culture with your cocktail?

The people of South Florida demand entertainment that is cultural and sophisticated, or so says Melissa Brown of the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach. For them, the Bass hosts Beats After Sunset, a Friday night happy hour with free cocktails, a DJ and guests roaming the museum with drinks in hand.

Beats is one of the regular happy-hour-type events held by cultural organizations in South Florida. The term "cocktail culture" assumes a new meaning at these parties, where museums lure an atypical crowd with booze.

Every month at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, wine enthusiasts and young professionals sit at high-top tables dressed in white to dine and learn about wine from a certified sommelier. The museum has presented the series, called the Art of Wine, for two years.

"We wanted to try to create a downtown presence," says Gail Vilone, the museum's special-events manager. "It's such a rich component to mix the arts with an entertaining evening like that."

Guests can view the galleries before their wines pour, but Vilone says many of them return even on months when the exhibitions are the same. Art may not be the main reason for their visits, but patrons of these events want an atmosphere unlike what's offered at the flashy clubs of South Florida's famed boulevards.

For the next month, the following cultural happy hours will blend enrichment and enjoyment for those people with a proper ID.

Art After Dark at the Norton

West Palm Beach's 71-year-old Norton Museum of Art opens late every Thursday for a four-hour program of gallery tours, performances and interactive sessions, usually focusing on a region or culture. The museum's Cafe 1451 offers two-for-one drinks to those visitors who purchase food, which matches the theme of the night. This week, the theme is art, featuring a tour of the museum's modern sculptures. 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18. $12, $5 students, free for members. 561-832-5196 or Norton.org.

The Art of Wine at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale

For its October edition, six days before Halloween, the Art of Wine will get blood-red: The "Boo-tiful Reds" dinner will pair gourmet tapas with three varieties of red wines. Richard Ellis' "Shark" exhibition will be on display, as will the Ashcan collection of paintings depicting urban life in the early 20th century. 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25. $35. 954-262-0249 or Moafl.org.

LoweDown Happy Hour at the Lowe

UM's on-campus museum offers gallery tours, live music and open bars during its monthly get-down, taking place the first Thursdays during the school year. The theme for the final round of 2012 is an African masquerade. Bacardi cocktails will be served as visitors take tours of the Lowe's African gallery.

7-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1. $10, free for members. 305-284-3535 or Miami.edu/Lowe.

Beats After Sunset at the Bass

This November, the outdoor party will be prefaced by the launch of the Bass Museum's new program, TC: Temporary Contemporary. The art in the collection will be set up in unexpected urban spots. Before the regular event starts, the art blog Soul of Miami will host an interactive tour of the TC pieces at 6 p.m. Party: 8-11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2. $10, free for members. 305-673-7530 or BassMuseum.org.

Culture and Cocktails at the Colony Hotel Palm Beach

The artist meet-and-greet series held by the Cultural Council of Palm Beach begins its eighth season next month. The first event is a talk with interior designer and author Carleton Varney, design columnist for the Palm Beach Daily News. Attendees mingle and drink for 45 minutes before the Q&A. The price of admission includes cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and valet parking. 5-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5. $50, free for members. 561-472-3330 or PalmBeachCulture.com.

Meet Me at the Museum at the Boca Raton Museum of Art

Super Mario and Ms. Pac-Man are the stars of "The Art of Video Games," the featured exhibition at the Boca museum's November art party. Although not all drinks are free, the price of admission gets guests two glasses of wine with their appetizers. 5:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7. $15 advance or $20 at the door, $8 advance or $12 at the door for members. 561-392-2500 or BocaMuseum.org.

Read Maria Murriel's blog at SouthFlorida.com/lushlife. Follow her on Twitter at @mariamurriel or email her at mmurriel@southflorida.com.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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