Dive Lounge @ the Downtown Aquarium,
700 Water Street
Welcome to the newest dive in town. When we entered the bar at the new Downtown Aquarium (formerly the barless Colorado's Ocean Journey), my friend oohed and aahed. "Gosh, it looks just like a grotto," she said. Yes, but more like the Disneyland grotto on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride than a gorgeous Playboy Mansion grotto. In fact, the Dive Lounge has all the hallmarks of a Disney attraction: bar stools filled with fish, a lit bar that moves like a wave through the magic of fiber optics (how much do you need to drink to enjoy that?) and a gift shop, which the relaunched aquarium's new owners hope will be its biggest attraction. Yes, they're hoping to get you hook, line and sinker. I took the plunge and ordered a Redfish Rita ($8), made with Sauza Gold, Grand Marnier and cranberry juice. It was delicious, even if it reminded me of drinking too much at another famous fish-themed ride, the Giggling Marlin in Mexico. After the first few sips, we asked the bartender to put our cocktails in to-go cups, and then, for another $12.50-per-person entry fee, wandered through the exhibits. Buoyed by liquid refreshments, I was thinking it might be a fun date to visit the darker parts of the aquarium, such as the Sea of Cortez and Sunken Shipwreck, or have a romantic moment watching the tigers at the Sunken Temple. But just as I was beginning to enjoy myself, something smelled fishy. I turned around and ran smack into Sharky, the aquarium's big blue mascot. Fish or cut bait, Sharky.