BEST POOLSIDE BAR (2005)
The Raleigh Hotel
305-534-6300 Step poolside at the Raleigh Hotel and you'll swear you've stepped into the 1940s: a quartet of guayabera-clad young Cuban men lounging on the patio, smoking cigars under a lazy ceiling fan. A server in crisp whites makes his way among tables that surround a gumbo limbo tree bejeweled with soft lamps hanging from its branches. Humphrey Bogart sits at the bar with a tumbler of scotch and a cigarette, while Esther Williams emerges from the spectacular fleur de lis-shaped pool. Okay, maybe not that last part, but there's a certain tropical elegance going on at the Raleigh, a beautifully restored design by L. Murray Dixon, crafted at the height of his career. The scene here is relaxed and unassuming, with plenty of breathing room for the charm of dreaming about zoot suits and big bands.
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