Lou's Beer Garden
George Martinez
Miami has enough velvet-rope-and-$25-valet nightclubs to keep Ed Hardy and your local Ecstasy dealer in the money for life. What it doesn't have enough of, though, is the sort of bar where you can show up in casual clothes, have a conversation without screaming over club music, and spend a night getting tipsy on premium beer accompanied with a good nosh. That's why we're so happy to welcome Lou's Beer Garden, an understated outdoor poolside bar and kitchen in the courtyard of the New Hotel in Miami Beach. It's like a taste-bud-friendly Miami version of Cheers: You show up for one beer but end up getting sloshed on five high-octane brews such as Bieres de Chimay Triple and Rogue Brewery's Double Dead Guy Ale while cracking wise with the other barflies. You're given carte blanche with the single flat-screen's remote control, and the bartenders are all regulars who never left. When you get really trashed, feel free to jump into the pool with your clothes on. And make sure you don't have a reason to leave; the bar that bills itself as "Miami Beach's first gastropub" has a menu full of gourmet grub including tasty pizzas, eight-ounce Black Angus burgers, and Ibérico squid.
The Rooftop at the Perry South Beach
There is a plethora of possible reasons the Gansevoort named its 18th-story, rooftop pool bar Plunge. If you fall off the building, you could plunge to your death, or you can take a plunge in the pool. Regardless of the apellation's origin, Plunge hits the damn-this-is-nice mark the second you lay eyes on it. Though the pool is reserved for hotel guests until 8 p.m. (except during spring/summer Saturday pool parties), anyone can come up and sit at the bar or lounge on the sofas. The Plexiglas walls afford ridiculous views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Magic City (even from the bathrooms), and the breeze never seems to cease. During the day, it offers anyone an excuse to unwind and try the signature pink elephant (vodka, champagne, lime, fresh mint, and strawberries); at night, Plunge transforms into a party playground.
B Bar at the Betsy Hotel
The last place anyone expects to find anything remotely hip is Ocean Drive. But the renovated Betsy Hotel has done just that with its speakeasy space, B Bar. Described as a "jewel box," the lounge transports you to something akin to an obscure New York hot spot. Even if you stay at the Betsy, chances are you won't easily find the lounge. To arrive at the entrance, you must descend a small set of stairs, walk through what looks like a service hallway, and knock on a nondescript door. Once you are permitted to enter (not everyone is so lucky), you'll find the most gorgeously decorated space in all of the Magic City — a stark contrast to the safe design of the rest of the hotel. Let your eyes adjust to the dim lighting, and take in the dark hues, softly lit bar, and cozy yet elegant space. The real shocker here, though, is the low ceiling covered in reflective vinyl that can feel disorienting — particularly when a DJ turns up the bass and it vibrates.
Buck15
Perhaps you've eaten the homemade dim sum at Miss Yip and wondered what the heck is going on upstairs. That's Buck15. Nestled on the second floor, it is a no B.S., funky-fresh, lounge-meets-art-gallery getaway. If South Florida allowed for basements and attics, this is what you'd want yours to look like. Comfy brown couches contrast with changing art installations such as bright graffiti by Atomik or murals by Victor-Hugo. Each night, the music covers everything from electro to hip-hop, adding to the overall sensory satisfaction. Nightly drink specials are cheap, there's no cover, and the place is open until 5 a.m. Get Buck, Miami.
Burger & Beer Joint
Burger & Beer Joint has taken South Beach by storm with its delicious and reasonably priced hamburgers, unpretentious atmosphere, and consistency. The real draw for sports fans and tipplers alike is the adjacent bar, where eight flat-screen TV sets show every game imaginable — from football and basketball to baseball and boxing. This is the go-to spot during big-ticket events such as UFC matches, the Final Four, and the Super Bowl. For the inaugural Super Bowl presentation this past February, the action also moved upstairs, where a 120-inch projection screen was set up for the New Orleans Saints-loving crowd. Miami's European, soccer-crazy community should look elsewhere, though. B&B is strictly an Americana zone. Nevertheless, drinks are cheap (for South Beach), especially during happy hour (half-price Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.). The sports bar is open daily beginning at 5 p.m. during the week and at noon on weekends. B&B's full menu is served until 5 a.m., making the place a late-night haunt for bartenders, hostesses, and waiters from all over South Beach. Where else can you get turkey burgers, alcohol-spiked milkshakes, and the highlights from the Fins game at 4 a.m.? Plus there's no doorman, bullshit attitude, or bottle requirement at this locals-friendly watering hole.
Kaffe Krystal
Some people call it Space Southwest because of the night-to-morning party-monster atmosphere. Here you'll find the club youth of Kendall who prefer big-room house to ale house. Expect a dress code, cover charge, and hours of thumping bass. Chongas and chicos de la saguesera throw down intoxicated dance moves under flashing colored lights. When you leave in the morning, you'll notice the club is in a suburban Kendale Lakes strip mall behind a Wendy's, and it will just add to the experience. ¡Dale!
Bardot
Courtesy of Bardot
We thought local business impresario Amir Ben-Zion would retreat quietly into Miami nightlife history after he shut down Domo Japones in the Design District. We were wrong. This past October, he opened Bardot, which reminds us of the late Pawn Shop Lounge. Knickknacks and suggestive artwork from Ben-Zion's personal collection are strewn across the space. Though the address says North Miami Avenue, the entrance is located in the back. The only hint of it is a simple red awning. Get there before 11 p.m. and beat the mad rush; capacity is limited due to fire codes. During the high season, the lounge hosts a two-for-one happy hour from 6:30 to 9 p.m. In the summer, though, doors are open only from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. Well drinks start at $9, but try the specialty cocktails for $12. There's the "honey mule," a mix of Russian Standard vodka, ginger beer, honey syrup, and fresh-pressed ginger. Or go for the namesake cocktail, the Brigitte, which blends Russian Standard vodka, crème de noisette, and Kahlúa.
The Room
There's nothing about the Room that's reassuring. It's a damp, dark grotto on the southernmost tip of the beach. Conversation is inaudible and overlapping, like in a Robert Altman movie. Seats? Forget about it. The leather barstools, back bench, and misplaced ottomans in this gulag are invariably taken up by the regulars who get there at 7 p.m., when the bar opens. Yet this seven-year-old joint is comfortingly familiar. It's far removed from the usual mess of South Beach, so there's never much foot traffic outside the concealed hole-in-the-wall on First Street. You might run into a couple of lost, vacationing Australians from the hostels in the neighborhood. Inside, it is spa-dark, with a few candles sputtering behind the counter, as if the bartender wants to rub your shoulders while telling you a bedtime story. This is a place that would welcome the weariest drunk after a nightlong bender. And the sprawling beer menu — almost 80 brands from around the world — make it an inviting place to get shit-faced. The Room is the Epcot of booze. Owner Craig Weiss says he didn't open the place just for beer snobs; he did it to educate South Florida's palate. So bartenders don't scoff when someone asks for a Corona. Instead, they suggest Costa Rican lager Imperial ($9) or a Japanese Hitachino wheat ale ($9). The Room is open seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Black Point Ocean Grill
Yeah, yeah, so Black Point Ocean Grill has one exquisite waterfront view — thanks to its locale in the mangrove-lush paradise that is Black Point Marina — but that's only a fraction, maybe half a cup's worth, of its charm. Food, such as fresh seafood packed into sandwiches, burgers, and tasty smoked fish dip, earns this South Dade gathering place another quarter of charisma. But a good chunk of its appeal is the vibe. Cool and laid-back, it's the perfect spot to swig a few frosty brews after a long bike ride on a Sunday afternoon. Or if you like the nightlife, join the gray-haired, khaki-shorts-loving, fishing-themed-T-shirt crowd every Friday and Saturday night as it gets down to a live band that covers every song you've ever heard on Big 106 or Magic 102.7. Add in a dash of flavor for the arbitrary bicycle hung over the dance floor, friendly service, and a twist of craziness due to the mermaid-kissing, scurvy-carrying, and squid-wrestling characters who come here fresh from the sea; shake well; and you have yourself one hell of a cocktail. Cheers!
Kill Your Idol
Everyone at Kill Your Idol was coupled off, but not Henry. He sat alone at the end of the bar, and from the look on his face, the night wasn't going so well. But then he snapped out of his Pabst stupor and his eyes shone bright. He pointed in the air and shouted, "This is my song. I played this!" Neutral Milk Hotel's "Holland, 1945" was blaring on the jukebox. It was the song Henry used to blast in his bedroom with the door closed when he was only 16. Although technically alone, Henry was deeply in love. He was smitten with Fireball, the glowing, red-hot vintage juke in the corner. Deep inside its guts were all the songs that could carry him away from the present loneliness. Other jukeboxes didn't satisfy; they were empty shells of flashing lights that merely streamed MP3s. Fireball was stocked with actual CDs that contained personalized playlists chosen by Miami music makers and lovers. Local band Astari Nite included fellow Miami musician MillionYoung on its mix. Hood Songs, the CD by writer John Hood, contained everything from Tom Waits to Ice T, with a wildcard Fiona Apple thrown in. Deep cuts from throwbacks such as VNV Nation and MC5 were mixed thoughtfully in with current favorites Surfer Blood and the XX. Losing more dollar bills than at a strip club, Henry couldn't take his eyes off Fireball — that is, until he caught a glimpse of the Playboy pinball machine in the other corner.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®