Miami has had a bad drinking rap since people realized that beaches and bikini babes go best with a Bud (or seven) or bottles of Dom P. Spring breakers and ballin’ millionaires alike perennially wash ashore on South Beach, but sadly, neither parties are much interested in a well-crafted cocktails as they are a hot afterparty destination, which – spoiler alert – are none of these bars listed. Cocktail bars aren’t the after party, they’re just the party, with expertly crafted with fine liqueurs, organic bitters, fresh herbs and, in the case of Bar Centro, even a little bit of molecular magic, by the top mixologists in the industry. These places use the techniques of the industry in refreshing locations: poolside courtyards, dance holes in Brickell with a herb garden wall, and, of course, sexy hotel lobbies. For a taste of the ages with some artists of booze, check out these five top Miami cocktail bars.
One trendsetting spot, the Broken Shaker, is a strong contender for best cocktail bar in the city – far from the stuffy basement cocktail clubs that try to pass as a time machine, this airy and boozy garden party hangs out every night in the courtyard around the pool at the ultra-trendy Art Deco-style Freehand Miami Hotel. Bob Marley drifts from the stereo, twinkly lights reflect off the pool and guests can either imbibe their pretty and refreshing cocktails under a palm or in their fragrant herb garden (all their cocktail elixirs, syrups, and infusions are made from herbs and spices from their garden or shipped from reliable and quality sources across the world). Their menu changes every 10 days or so, a mix of classics and new innovations and those who show up on the right night get some complimentary punch.
There’s the cocktail club – prim, leather and oak, lots of hushed chatter and slow sipping – and then there’s the cocktail club, with a dance floor and DJ spinning everything from ‘80s house to contemporary EDM; decked out with eclectic hanging Edison bulbs, lots of booths, even board games and a mint plant on every table (no need to ask a waitress if you need a little more oomph in your cocktail. The unique hand mixed cocktails are all named after bird types, from the Blackbird (Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea Vodka, fresh blackberries and lemonade over crushed ice) and the Yellowthroat (Bulleit rye whisky, Bitter Truth lemon bitters and organic agave nectar, stirred and served over a coconut ice cube). Located in the super-trendy Brickell neighborhood, Blackbird Ordinary even has a patio space bordered by an edible wall – a brick wall stacked with flower boxes growing herbs and spices.
This sexy and boozy indoor/outdoor bar in the SLS Hotel might seem high brow and pretentious at the outset, but the drinks that are carried to the table are marvelous works of art, based on concepts from the celebrity pioneer of molecular gastronomy and Spanish cuisine, José Andrés. Using airs, spherification and other tools from the molecular trade, Bar Centro turns the regular gin and tonic into an Ultimate G&T, combining Fever-Tree tonic (infused with botanical oils and Congo quinine), juniper berries, verbena, edible flowers and a sphere of ice. Their gin martini is made with spherified olive and olive brine air. For about $16, diners get a delicious handmade and utterly unique cocktail, a show and a chemistry lesson from one of the masters of the game.
Photo via their official FB page.
For a real step back in time, Rose Bar at the classic Delano Hotel reflects the hotel’s grand half-century-old history: the original name of the looming four-winged tower is actually The Rose. Their signature cocktails include the simple, like Prosecco and peach, to the complicated, such as Hennessy infused with roasted almond, cointreau and orange peel. The dark wood and marble bar is lit by vintage art-deco chandeliers and mirrors, sending imbibers back to the age of lobby lounging and people watching. Take an afternoon splash in Delano’s shimmering pool, order a Prosecco and peach and a truffly bite from Biancas for a real taste of Miami luxury.
In a city of excessive drinking, bright lights and Miami vices, the best place to grab a drink might actually be in the small, comfy refined elegance of The Regent in the Gale South Beach Hotel. The world famous mixologists at The Regent (John Lermayer, Danny Valdez and Julio Cabrera are just a few notable names in the game) only do a short list of cocktails, but each of them are done very, very well. Antique glassware and unique tools only enhance the experience both of imbibing and mixing – stirred drinks are stirred in an antique goblet and certain drinks are served in metal coup glasses. The leatherbound antiqued furniture, dim lights, old champagne glasses and more add to the ‘40s speakeasy atmosphere of The Regent.