In a time of such economic strife, I say screw the beef! Instead of dinner out on the town, I suggest one blow their shrinking wads of indulgence-flow on the savory, sweet nectar of catastrophe -- booze. Yet, New Times doesn’t want you to waste your hard-earned cash on crap, so we’re combing bars, from Homestead to Aventura, in search of the best buzzes for your buck.
My first stop? Jake’s Bar & Grill (6901 SW 57th Avenue, 305-662-8632) in South Miami, a swanky spot nestled on Red Road that serves a deliciously massive Middle Eastern Platter ($15), which includes a triangular chunk of marinated feta, falafel, and a chunkier version of baba ganoush called “eggplant salad.” But it’s not food I’m interested in, so I ask RJ, a bartender with a shaved head, goatee, and a quick wit, what is his favorite libation to whip up for customers?
“Beer” he says.
Great for a growling gut, but with Don Q as their well rum, we’re figuring there’s something a little bit fancier to be had at Jake’s.
RJ then claims to make one badass mojito. We’re game.
With exerted flare, RJ tosses a highball into his hand, smashes lime and mint into the bottom of the glass, and adds in some ice, a simple syrup , rum, and soda water. He shakes it all about, and viola! -- we’ve got ourselves a pretty standard mojito.
“It’s not my first rodeo,” he says with a smile as he slides the drink our way. Apparently not, RJ made the drink with the kind of mindless expertise usually reserved for factory laborers.
After a few sips, I deem the drink, uhm, good -- due to a serious lack of sweetness as a result of swapping guarapo (fresh, squeezed sugar cane juice) for the simple syrup (i.e. sugar water) the drink was slightly underwhelming. Yet, after two mojitos (at $10 a pop) I’m feeling pretty happy, but a little dissatisfied, making it difficult to avert my eyes from something on the menu called “duck nachos” ($12).
Feeling generous, I decide to give RJ another chance, but this time, I’m calling the shots by asking him to make me a dirty martini. His first version is a little on the virginal side, so we politely ask him to introduce the drink to a porn. His second version came back like he had shown our little martini 2 Girls, 1 Cup, Clockwork Orange-style – brimming with liquor and olive juice. Fantastic! To this, I applaud RJ and Jake’s.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
In comparison to food, RJ’s mojito is equivalent to the chain Chili’s Grill & Bar -- decent but not memorable, with a slight chance of heartburn in the morning. But the dirty martini was like Snickers on a diet - indulgent, appropriate and complete with a small pang of guilt that comes, not from the calories, but from the bill after you realize you just blew $14 on a drink.