The Hottest Cocktail Bars in Miami
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To paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield, Miami gets no (mixological) respect. It’s still far better known for nightclubs requiring bottle service than watering holes serving classic concoctions.
For a number of years, the acclaimed Florida Room in the Delano Hotel offered a compromise, with delicious drinks as well as bottle service. That spot closed in 2012, but don’t worry; cocktail fans are in no danger of going thirsty. There are a number of establishments that have stepped up to fill the void. So pack your suntan lotion and check out a few of my favorites.
BAR CENTRO, 1701 COLLINS AVENUE, MIAMI BEACH, 305-674-1701:
Inside the swanky SLS Hotel in South Beach, you’ll find several high-end spots to eat and drink, including José Andrés’ famous restaurant The Bazaar. Bar Centro is where you can try the chef’s experimental molecular elixirs made with emulsifiers, liquid nitrogen, and spherification, but there are also plenty of fresh-fruit cocktails for those who aren’t feeling quite so adventurous.
What to Drink: LN2 Caipirinha (cachaça, lime juice, sugar, frozen with liquid nitrogen)
THE BROKEN SHAKER, 2727 INDIAN CREEK DRIVE, MIAMI BEACH, 786-325-8974:
The Broken Shaker was only supposed to be a pop-up, but it was so successful that it’s now a permanent feature of the Freehand Hotel. The joint (pictured above) was dreamed up by Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta, who run local consultancy Bar Lab. It’s even decorated with their own personal collection of shakers and other memorabilia.
What to Drink: Southern Element (Fords Gin, soursop [guanabana] juice, Cocci Americano, simple syrup, lemon juice, sage)
THE CYPRESS ROOM, 3620 NORTHEAST 2ND AVENUE, 305-520-5197:
"The Beverage Book" at the elegant Cyprus Room begins with a list of aperitif cocktails that will get your appetite going for the establishment’s gourmet meals. Its classic tipples will make the traditionalists happy, and its barrel-aged concoctions will satisfy those looking for the latest trends. Plus, there are special original creations from talented bartender Robert Montero.
What to Drink: Calle Ocho (J.M Rhum Agricole, hibiscus, lime juice, tonic, egg white, coconut water, nasturtium)
KHONG RIVER HOUSE, 1661 MERIDIAN AVENUE, MIAMI BEACH, 305-763-8147:
One look at the cocktail list was all it took for me to fall for the Khong River House. The menu includes both "seven reasons to like gin" and also "43 ways to drink a Negroni." And that’s not to mention that the back bar stocks an amazing 43 different brands of gin.
What to Drink: The Dutch Crumpet (Bols Genever, Earl Grey tea syrup, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice)
LANTAO, 1717 COLLINS AVENUE, MIAMI BEACH, 305-604-1800:
Named for the largest island in Hong Kong, Lantao showcases food from across Asia. Its cocktails, created by head bartender Chad Phillips, complement the diverse cuisine. He is a mad scientist at heart and enjoys playing with infusions and bitters in his cocktails. You can even order his tipples poolside at the adjacent Sand Bar.
What to Drink: Will You Daiquiri Me? (strawberry- and kiwi-infused Flor de Caña Rum, lime, sugar)
PB STEAK, 1787 PURDY AVENUE, MIAMI BEACH, 305-695-9550:
Beverage manager Ashley Danella earned her stripes behind the stick at some of Miami’s finer establishments. She is now in charge of all things liquid at PB Steak, which serves great steak, great oysters, great beer, and great cocktails. It’s a simple formula, and that’s executed perfectly here.
What to Drink: Scarlet Letter (vodka, house-made raspberry jam, rosemary, bitters, seltzer)
PURDY LOUNGE,1811 PURDY AVENUE, MIAMI BEACH, 305-531-4622:
Every city has a hangout where bartenders head after their shifts to have shots of Jameson and a pint. That den of inequity in Miami is Purdy Lounge. (It’s open until 5 a.m. each day.) Its motto is "Cold beer. Strong drinks. Live music. Friendly staff." I couldn’t have described it better myself.
What to Drink: Shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey with a beer of your choice
THE REGENT COCKTAIL CLUB, 1690 COLLINS AVENUE, MIAMI BEACH, 305-673-0199:
The Regent Cocktail Club, which opened last winter, gives you a taste of glamorous 1940s-era Miami. The décor is elegant, the music swinging jazz and the drinks old-school. No surprise, since the place is run by award-winning barman John Lermayer. Looking for a more modern experience? Check out The Regent’s sister bar Rec Room, which is a hybrid of a craft-cocktail bar and a nightclub.
What to Drink: Hemingway Daiquiri (Caña Brava Rum, maraschino liqueur, grapefruit juice, lime juice)
SWINE, 2415 PONCE DE LEON BOULEVARD, CORAL GABLES, 786-360-6433:
Bar manager Robert Ferrara has compiled an impressive selection of spirits and cocktails that pair perfectly with the dishes from renowned chef John Kunkel at this brand-new spot. The restaurant is an ode to Southern cooking, pigs and whiskey.
What to Drink: Buck & Gable (George Dickel Rye Whiskey, house-made ginger beer, The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters, black pepper)
Simon Ford is an award-winning bartender and co-founder of The 86 Co. He is also a Liquor.com advisory board member.
This story was originally published at One for the Road: Miami. For more stories like this join Liquor.com and drink better. Plus, for a limited time get How to Cocktail in 2013, a cocktail recipe book — free! Join now.
The absolute best rooftop bars in Miami, from South Beach to Brickell
April 2021: The bar scene has changed considerably over the past year, and many of our favorite watering holes have sadly left us. But when the city takes, the city also gives in the form of buzzy rooftop bar options you&rsquoll want to visit for their gorgeous views and boozy beverages. One thing is certain: Miami just looks better from up here.
Finding rooftop bars in Miami has not always been an easy task. We&rsquore not a skyscraper city like New York and many of the rooftop spaces we have are reserved for hotel guests. Thankfully, that has changed. The Brickell and Downtown explosion has given us some tall drinking options and even relatively small neighborhoods like Wynwood and Buena Vista are throwing their hat into the rooftop ring. We ain&rsquot complaining, especially because many of these bars aren&rsquot content with just good views. They&rsquore bringing great cocktails, food and ambiance to the party too, which has landed at least one in our ultimate list of the best bars in Miami. These places are a great way to see Miami from a different perspective. Time your visit with a Miami sunset and prepare to be wowed.
Mac's Club Deuce
Our favorite kind of landmarks are the ones that serve booze, and Mac’s - the most famous dive bar in South Florida - does just that, every day from 8am-5am. Sure, this 50-plus-year-old South Beach spot is rich in history - the neon lights were installed by the Miami Vice crew during a shoot - and you might walk in on a retired rock star sipping whiskey when you come here. But we like it because Mac’s is just a phenomenal dive bar. It’s grimy but friendly if you play by the rules - which essentially boil down to three things: cash only, don’t touch the blinds, and don’t be an assh*le.
Open with outdoor seating
Lagniappe is proof that not all wine bars are quiet, dim places that feel more like libraries. This place gets packed and loud both inside - where you’ll find a weekly rotation of great jazz and plenty of good wine in a slightly cramped space - and outside, which is a back patio that all other back patios should aspire to be. There are string lights and tons of tables that look like they were collected from years of nearby garage sales. It’s hard to get one of those tables on the weekend - when they’re usually full of big groups or app dates - so come early or just do laps until you see an opening.
Open with outdoor seating
People love to ask what you’d bring with you if you were trapped on a desert island and sure, a lighter and a cell phone would be nice. But if we could bring one bar with us, it’d be Gramps. No other bar in Miami is as versatile. A week at this Wynwood spot includes trivia, bingo, live music, killer DJs, and the best drag show in town every Thursday night. Add to that the best cocktails in Wynwood, a very good Happy Hour, and Pizza Tropical’s fantastic NY-style pizza in the back, and we’d happily spend a few years alone with Gramps on an island.
Genever, Los Angeles
Located in Historic Filipinotown, Genever is one of Los Angeles&rsquos finest watering holes (often touted as the city&rsquos best gin bar), proudly owned and operated by three Filipina entrepreneurs. This standout Gin & Tonic (developed by former bar director Jessie Smyth) features ingredients prominent in Filipino cuisine and is one of Genever&rsquos most requested cocktails. Kelso Norris, current bar director, adds &ldquoThis G&T riff hits every taste bud with a perfect balance of sweet, tangy and savory&mdashand disappears way too fast!&rdquo
Filipino Gin & Tonic
- 2 oz. gin
- 0.5 oz. calamansi juice
- 0.25 oz. Datu Puti Spiced Vinegar*
- &lsquoQ’ Tonic
- Garnish: sliced ginger, fresh bay leaves, black pepper, chilies
Pour ingredients over ice in a tall Collins glass or large wine glass stir. Garnish with sliced ginger, bay leaves, black pepper and chilies.
*A Filipino vinegar made from coconut sap and flavored with chiles, black pepper and ginger. It&rsquos commonly found in Asian markets and also available on Amazon.
The Hottest Cocktail Bars in Miami - Recipes
The Most Fabulous Cocktail Bar Interiors
High-concept design, high-concept drinks.
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When you’re sipping a meticulously crafted drink, you want the setting to offer just as much artistry as the drink in hand. The design of a bar really does enhance the drinking experience. Whether the aesthetics are pared down to exalt the libations or over-the-top to transport you back to the ‘60s with art deco furnishings, the bar interiors we love most are the ones that feel deliberately like works of art. While we’ve rarely met a five-star hotel bar we didn’t love, these 10 cocktail bars around the world standout for their luxurious and impeccably designed interiors.
The Fumoir, Claridge’s, London
Richard Booth/Courtesy Claridge's
The Fumoir’s 1920s and ‘30s style, post-belle epoque but pre-midcentury modern, has a deliberate art deco feel and rare luxury accents (see: the Lalique glass paneling, Jaffa lights, and chandelier, all of which match the Lalique glasses used to serve Fumoir’s 1930s-inspired cocktails). The crystal goes perfectly with the jewel-toned beaux-arts detailing by Thierry Despont (like the deep red and purple furnishings that create a sultry atmosphere). You’ll find all this ‘30s charm nestled within Claridge’s, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property from Maybourne Hotel Group, which is also the group behind The Connaught and The Berkeley, two equally enticing five-star bars in London.
Bar Journe, Kimpton EPIC29, Miami
Courtesy Jennifer Massolo
Few cities specialize in designing art-forward (and, for that matter, alcohol-forward) spaces like Miami. From the Design District to the waterfront, the high-class drinking culture of Miami is as alluring as it is Instagrammable. We love the design of Bar Journe, within Kimpton EPIC29 Miami, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, because of the wearable art adorning the lounge. Rather than paintings, sculptures, and midcentury furnishings decking out this cocktail lounge, at Bar Journe, you are surrounded by luxury timepieces. This is Maison FP Journe’s first bar-within-a-watch-shop concept, and the rare spirits bar serves innovative, highly potent cocktails and Petrossian caviar surrounded by coveted FP Journe watches and clocks.
Connie Cocktail Lounge, TWA Hotel, New York City
Eric Laignel/Stonehill Taylor/Courtesy TWA Hotel
TWA Hotel, the only hotel within New York’s JFK Airport, brings big ‘60s energy, and nowhere is that more true than at their Connie Cocktail Lounge. Connie was once a 1958 Lockheed Constellation plane—one of only four left in the world. Connie L-1649A was restored in 2018 and reopened as a ‘60s cocktail bar—so Manhattan’s finest could sip cocktails within a vintage plane at JFK. The vintage drinks and midcentury modern interiors will transport you back to the aviation days of the ‘60s (albeit with far more advanced technology).
Manhattan Bar, Regent Singapore
Tom White/Courtesy Regent Singapore
Manhattan Bar, within the Regent Singapore, was named to this year’s World’s 50 Best Bars (and Asia’s 50 Best Bars) and brings refined old-world New York City design to one of Singapore’s finest cocktail establishments. Beyond the midcentury leather sofas, soft lighting, and purple velour curtains, our favorite design feature is the exquisite ceiling mirror that reflects the contents of the gorgeously stacked liquor collection.
Art of Duplicity, Cape Town, South Africa
Tucked away in a warehouse that’s been standing since the late 1800s, Art of Duplicity is the hottest luxury bar ticket in the Mother City. A jazz bar that requires a secret password from guests looking to gain entry, the interiors are classic ‘20s speakeasy, in a way that lets the rare spirits shine as libations and décor. From Chesterfield sofas to the gleaming mahogany bar, the redesigned space (as of 2018) and distinctive period-appropriate ‘20s glassware all add to the ambiance, creating an exclusive (reservation-only) cocktail haunt.
Tokyo Whisky Library, Japan
Courtesy TOKYO Whisky Library
For aficionados of design and Japanese whisky, there is no cocktail bar more essential than Tokyo Whisky Library. To be clear, Tokyo is brimming with rare spirits bars boasting innovative design, from the tiny house bars in Golden Gai to the famous New York Bar within Park Hyatt Tokyo. But Tokyo Whisky Library is both luxurious and hip, tucked into high-fashion shopping district Omotesando. The design is all in the name: it really is a high-brow whisky library, with exposed brick walls lined with whisky bottles, illuminated by the dim light coming off the unique glass chandeliers.
Icebar, Icehotel, Sweden
A bar built entirely from the Torne River’s water, Icebar—within Swedish Lapland’s Icehotel—sits in a building carved out of ice, with décor pieces, art, glassware, and furniture also carved from Torne River ice. One of the Icebar’s most impressive design feats is, of course, that it reinvents itself each year, melting back into the river when the weather gets warm. And each iteration of Icebar features design work from a new Swedish architect. In addition to the original Icebar at the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, you can now find an Icebar in Stockholm as well.
Champagne Room, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, Sydney
Geoff Lung/Courtesy Accor
Overlooking Sydney’s Darling Harbour, the exceptional design here is really in the Champagne Room’s ability to bring the outside in. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the bar overlooks the water and Sydney’s downtown, while building on the Sofitel’s French art de vivre style. The Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is particularly eye-catching because of the iron-and-glass facade, which you’ll get to admire from the inside while looking out at the water sampling their très cher Champagne and caviar selection.
Paradiso, Barcelona, Spain
Paradiso, recently named to the World’s 50 Best Bars, draws design inspiration from Dalí and is known for the rich wood paneling and slightly tropical-feeling accents. The sensory design experience starts before you even set foot in Paradiso, because you enter through the freezer door of a pastrami shop—how’s that for a high-concept speakeasy tailor made for foodies? While the spirit bottles lining the carved wooden bar do contribute to the design, it’s really more the cocktails that double as works of art, because there’s an emphasis on vibrantly colored (and color-changing) cocktails. The interiors of Paradiso offer a small sampling of everything that makes Spanish design great, from the Dalí-inspired carved detailing to the more coastal-leaning artistry.
The Back Room, Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila, Philippines
Courtesy Shangri-La at the Fort
The Back Room, which Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, unveiled in early 2019, was recently named to Asia’s 50 Best Bars. They specialize in Prohibition-era speakeasy style with a luxury hotel twist. Hidden within the hotel (and not easily found, either), you’ll stumble into The Back Room and find a stunningly designed, lit-up bar, whose dark mahogany and brass accents are offset by the dark green wallpaper and Chesterfield sofas. From the intermittent leather-lined walls, to the tucked away lab where Shangri-La makes their own house gin, this bar has layers.
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Even though the product is relatively new to Miami, plenty of bars, including Sweet Liberty, Better Days, the Local, Bar Nancy, and Coyo Taco, are already carrying the spirit. Here are the six spiciest versions to try.
1. El Grito
Ezra Pattek, a former partner of Bar Lab Cocktails, is known for curating the bar program at El Grito (1766 Bay Rd., Miami Beach), where Verde is used in its michelada, made with Tecate, serrano, habanero, lemon, cilantro, and mint and rimmed with smoked salt.
2. Employees Only
Though this drink isn't officially on the menu, it's available upon request. But beware: The name might be not something you want to shout. Sex on the Taco Truck ($13) has only three ingredients: Ancho Reyes Verde, fresh lime juice, and lemongrass syrup. Danilo Bozovic, bar manager and managing partner of Employees Only, loves to use Verde with herbs such as sage, basil, thyme, and cilantro to really boost the spicier notes. He adds, "With its warm climate and an ice-cold spicy concoction, Miami goes perfect with Verde's ingredients."
3. The Broken Shaker
Bartender Anthony Valencia took a summer in Los Angeles and poured it into one drink, the Summer in Los Feliz ($13). "I used to go to Griffith Observatory and check out the views of the city, and after walking some of those trails, we'd get a cold-pressed juice after, then maybe a shot of tequila and a Modelo," Valencia says. "On the way home, we'd pass by Mexican street vendors selling fresh-cut fruit and flavored snow cones, so I'd pick up a bag of fresh mango, get the vendor to drench it in lime and tajín, and enjoy the sunset." He shakes some tequila, Ancho Reyes Verde, mango, tajín, fresh carrot juice, and beer with crushed ice and then adds a dried piece of mango with the same boba pearls he would put on his Pinkberry froyo after eating tacos.
4. Wynwood Diner
General manager/beverage director Michael Albuerne says this cocktail will help beat the Miami heat. La Milla Verde ($12) is made with mezcal, Ancho Reyes Verde, artichoke liqueur, cucumber juice, lime juice, and orgeat syrup. Albuerne believes the Ancho Reyes, with its earthy and spicy notes, helps bring out the smoky characteristics of the mezcal. "One hand washing the other," he says.
5. The Anderson
Bar manager Joshua Alperstein likes Verde for its spice, heat, and brightness. The Anderson altered its Death by Stereo cocktail by swapping out the usual Ancho Reyes Chile with Verde. Olmeca Altos Tequila, fresh-squeezed lime juice, grapefruit, and a mixed-herb cordial help bring this killer cocktail to life.
6. Bar Alter
Anyone who watches Gustavo Martinez behind the bar knows this guy is serious about cocktails. His Verano Verde ($13) combines Ancho Reyes Verde with vermouth infused with ancho chilies, Olmeca Altos tequila, fresh mango and lime juices, and a dash of mole bitters. Martinez serves the drink in a glass rimmed with a spicy salt blend.
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Lost Boy Arrow
"Eclectic" is absolutely an overused descriptor for decor, but there’s really no other word that fits the studiously jumbled arrangement of Lost Boy’s interior. Random oil paintings, dart boards, skulls, antique bookcases, and tailor’s dummies fill the corners of a bar that’s cozy, cluttered, and well-organized all at once. The owners cite the American Southwest, drunken sailor bars, and English pubs as their aesthetic inspiration, and you can see all of those elements very clearly here. The cocktail menu risks a little adventure, but nothing here will alienate drinkers who stick to the classics. The gin and tonic, for instance, is jazzed up with some peppercorn, and the pineapple daiquiri comes with roasted pineapple, but neither is deconstructed or unrecognizable.
Swizzle Rum Bar & Drinkery
Open with indoor and outdoor seating
Swizzle is a bar that feels like a cross between a tiki bar and a speakeasy - or a tiki-easy, which is a word we just made up that’s as fun to say as this bar is to drink at. Even though it’s only three short steps below the lobby, Swizzle is dimly lit and cozy, and will make you feel like you’re in the hull of an old wooden ship. The drink menu is extensive and unanimously excellent, especially the swizzle cocktails.
Sweet Liberty Drink & Supply Co.
Open with indoor and outdoor seating
There is really never a bad time to come to Sweet Liberty. They’ve got one of our favorite Happy Hours, with cheap oysters and some of the best cocktails in the city. The late-night scene is fun without feeling sloppy, and the bar food here is top notch, with a great fried chicken sandwich and potato chips and caviar. This place is everything we love about South Beach: sexy and colorful and not afraid of a hot pink neon sign, without any of the nasty overpriced stuff you’ll eat and drink on Ocean Drive.
Charcoal Garden Bar + Grill
Known for its locally sourced, charcoal-grilled seafood and meats, Charcoal Garden Bar + Grill is a one-of-a-kind Miami restaurant built entirely from modified shipping containers. The NW 29 th Street establishment is located in The Wynwood Yard – an enclave of restaurants, food trucks, and airstream trailers that offers programming every night of the week from live music to yoga – and the seasonally rotating cocktail menu is not to be missed.
“Our most inventive cocktail currently on the menu is the Disco Lemonade,” says Bar Manager Chris Sanz. Featuring rye, Velvet Falernum, ginger syrup, fresh lemon juice, blue basil straight from the garden, and cardamom, “It’s the perfect balance between spicy, sweet, and aromatic.”
His go-to recommendation is usually the Classic Pimm’s Cup, which was nominated as one of the best summer cocktails by Miami New Times (Pimms #4, Tyler’s City London Dry, fresh lemon juice, lemon-lime soda, cucumber, celery, and mint). And by mid-October, visitors can expect an array of new libations from Sanz that are perfect for fall.
Photo: Charcoal Garden Bar + Grill
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Drinks also must be packaged with “an unbroken seal that prevents the beverage from being consumed, and placed in a bag or other container secured in such a manner that it is visibly apparent if the container has been opened or tampered with.” When being transported in a car, to-go alcohol must also “be placed in a locked compartment, locked trunk, or other area behind the last upright seat of the motor vehicle.” Also, no one under 21 will be allowed to deliver the drinks and the sale of to-go alcohol must end at either midnight or when the restaurant’s food service ends - whichever comes first.
But, as long as restaurants meet those regulations and follow the guidelines, they’ll be able to offer you alcohol with your takeout order. And if you still haven’t experienced the wonders of the to-go cocktail, here are three places offering them right now.