Best Mojito 2013 | SushiSamba | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

It's Friday evening on South Beach and you've just finished a stressful workweek. Everyone walking along Lincoln Road seems to be on vacation except you. As you watch tanned (or sunburned) bodies in bejeweled flip-flops stroll the pedestrian mall, you have a sudden urge to duck into a café and sit with a cool drink. The festive citrus colors of SushiSamba catch your eye, and you choose a prime spot under an oversize orange umbrella. You don't even need to peruse the menu. You want a mojito supremo ($14). Though many mojitos are mixed with whatever rum comes in a plastic gallon container, this beauty comes with Zafra, a rare 21-year-old Panamanian elixir filled with tropical fruit and spice notes. The rum is mixed with fresh mint leaves and lime juice before being topped with Zonin prosecco. As samba music plays in the background, you take a long sip, allowing the cold liquid to hit between your eyes in an exquisite brain freeze that blocks out the interior noises of your boss screaming, the bills mounting, and the world. Then you melt into the melody and enjoy your own South Beach vacation — if only for an hour.


Fendi purses, Gucci heels, and Ferraris. That's how we roll in the 305, where excess is everything and more is, well, more. You can say a lot about our piece of the world, but you simply cannot say we are subtle. So when you're out on the town, will a simple $18 martini do? Not for a playah like you. You need the DiVine martini at Haven gastro-lounge. As you walk into the room, the bar is packed, but the crowd parts like the Red Sea for you, oh, master (or mistress) of the universe. You take the last available seat at the bar and ask mixologist extraordinaire Isaac Grillo for something special. What you receive is the DiVine martini, an ice-cold luxury libation that starts with a liberal pour of Stoli Elit (you know, the vodka that consistently achieves platinum status from the Beverage Testing Institute) and adds a touch of Filthy olive brine before being stirred gently but firmly. Prior to being presented to you, caviar-stuffed olives are added as a garnish. This is a cocktail worthy of your status in life. At $40, it's a far cry from happy hour in the suburbs — but then again, so are you.

Of course we flock to Lime Fresh Mexican Grill for those fresh tacos and that queso dip, but a meal here just doesn't feel right without one of those bright-green frozen margaritas. They taste like candy and go down even quicker. It's nearly impossible not to consider ordering another. Oh, what the heck. But let's be careful — too many could get us drumk. Ha, did we write "drumk"? We totally meant "drumk." Whoops, wrote it again. No, we're fine. Hey. Hey, reader. Did we ever tell you how awesome you are? No, we really, really mean it. You're always there for us. Reading us. Are you still seeing that guy? 'Cuz we always thought maybe, you know, maybe we could have had something. Oh, you're still together with him? That's cool. Don't worry. Don't even worrby abot it. Do you wanna dance right now? Ohmygawd, we love this songggg! Don'tyouloveit? It's soooooofjsdfjdkslfjsdkf. [Editor's note: These margaritas are delicious, but please drink responsibly.]

At most restaurants, the chef is in the back working on ambitious or classic flavor profiles for his food, leaving the bar manager to use the same recipes and possibly make a signature drink or two. Rarely does the chef leave his domain to venture out behind the bar and create a "chef-driven" cocktail program. But that's exactly what Tongue & Cheek's chef/partner Jamie DeRosa has done. Instead of hiring a beverage director, DeRosa created a collection of whimsical and classic cocktails for his restaurant. From the Bourbon for Apples, made with Buffalo Trace, green apples, and fresh thyme (with little red ice "apples" floating in the drink, $14), to the Walking Dead, a potent mixture of Death's Door gin and fresh muddled strawberries ($14), each cocktail was created to be appealing to the palate and eye. If you're looking for some razzle-dazzle (and an instant buzz), try the blackberry molecular margarita. For $22, you get a show, complete with smoky liquid nitrogen and strange glassware, that you can drink. Containing four ounces of Milagro Silver tequila, this is one potent potable that could do double duty as a dessert sorbet/nightcap or just an über-refreshing drink after the beach. Bonus: Get to the bar between 5 and 7 p.m. any day, and cocktails (except the molecular) are only $8. Good drinks, good deal.

Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil/Flickr

Lagniappe, the Big Easy-style beer-and-wine bar in midtown, has more than 100 vintages for sale. There are small-name vintners, such as Garage Wine Co.'s Chilean Cabernet Franc ($47), and more affordable selections, such as the Wishing Tree's Australian Shiraz ($25). Lagniappe does not charge a corkage fee. It does, however, include a $2 music surcharge on the bill — but that's only because this hip venue features live entertainment every night. So choose a bottle from the racks, pay at the counter, grab a few glasses, and saunter over to Lagniappe's tea-light-studded terrace. Listen to the fellow playing the cello while you swirl and sip. Lagniappe has a great wine selection. It's also a lovely spot to enjoy it all.

Photo courtesy of Genuine Hospitality Group

The story behind Michael's Genuine Home Brew (22-ounce bottle, $12) does not begin with Cicerones sniffing pours and pinpointing the optimal colors for a brew. It starts, rather, with local ingredients, crop rotations, and farmers. In his first homebrew, James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Michael Schwartz uses Seminole Chief (Sem-Chi) brown rice — a crop that Florida Crystals uses to replenish soil after cane fields are harvested. The locally grown rice is shipped to Gadsden, Alabama. There, craft brewery Back Forty Beer Co. produces a light-bodied American ale with hints of floral hops and sweet citrus. It's among the first time Sunshine State ingredients have been used for the grain bill of a beer. That explains why it pairs so wonderfully with Schwartz's farm-fresh fare. Find Michael's Genuine Home Brew at all of Schwartz's restaurants — Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Harry's Pizzeria, the Cypress Room, and Restaurant Michael Schwartz — plus World of Beer, Total Wine, Shake Shack, the Room, Pubbelly, the Broken Shaker, Wood Tavern, and a ton of other places.

Somewhere, in an alternate universe, there's a land called Beeradise. There, IPAs flow from golden taps. Rivers run with red-hued ales. Skies rain refreshing lagers. And everyone is happily buzzed, from sunup to sundown. Sadly, we don't live there. But in our own little piece of creation, World of Beer Dadeland is as close as it comes to a brew-based Shangri-la. This shiny, laid-back beer-only bar stocks a whopping 500-plus brews. From Blue Point Toasted Lager to Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, and from Woodchuck Raspberry Cider to Delirium Tremens, it's all there — cold, delicious, and awaiting your thirsty tongue. Plus, WOB now carries its own draft, C'est la Vie!, a Belgian tripel brewed exclusively for WOB by Belgium's Bavik Brewing Company. And if you're into sampling new brews (who isn't?), for $15 you can join WOB's loyalty club, score a sweet T-shirt, and earn points for every different beer you consume. A place where being a boozer finally pays off.

Max Shapovalov

Barton G. is to desserts what Dolly Parton is to country music. Dolly is big, fabulous, and over-the-top — and so are the Miami Beach restaurant's golden funnel cakes ($36). To make this carnival treat, eight enormous pieces of crisp, deep-fried swirls are paired with rich chocolate, caramel, and strawberry dipping sauces. Barton G. also offers a sweet named the Sabrina sundae ($43) — which, by the way, is served in a colossal martini glass that's practically the size of Parton's hair. The bowl is filled to the brim with Valrhona chocolate brownies and more than two and a half pints of house-made ice cream. The whole thing is crowned with Chantilly cream, sprinkles, sculpted chocolate, and maraschino cherries. Some evenings, Barton G.'s dessert service even involves props, gizmos, and sparklers. Sounds like the perfect treat to eat after workin' 9 to 5.

Photo courtesy of Azucar Ice Cream Company

Cue the swaying palm trees, cafecitos, and intro beats to Joe Arroyo's "Rebelión," because Azucar Ice Cream Company embodies Calle Ocho in sugar, cream, and waffle cones. Staffers wear shirts stamped with Cuban sayings: "Que arroz con mango," "¡El golpe avisa!" and "¡Dale!" Outside, a live band plays salsa and son directly below a huge sculpture of a loaded ice-cream cone. The shop proffers flavors such as mamey, passionfruit, plátano maduro (sweet plantain), and a trademarked Abuela María — delicious, sweet vanilla ice cream with ripe guava, chunks of cream cheese, and crushed Maria cookies ($3.50 small, $4.50 large). Azucar satisfies cravings for dancing, desserts, and ice cream varieties such as double turrón. So next time you're in Little Havana, ya tu sabes exactly where to go.

Carina Ost

Got a fever? Traditional remedies may include ibuprofen and ice baths, but there's certainly something better (and sweeter) out there. Feverish Pops, a brand of vegan-friendly frozen treats owned by ice-cream enthusiast Felecia Hatcher, began as a small-batch pops operation selling from the back of a neon-green Scion xB. Soon, vintage carts started shooting up around town. Now, Hatcher owns a boutique in midtown, where pops are sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice or agave nectar and are prepared with organic fruits. Flavors are fun: There's orange-cilantro, peanut butter and jelly, and chocolate-banana-sea salt ($3). Some are spiked with beer or booze ($4). Fighting a high body temperature? Take a bite outta Hatcher's blueberry and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer pop. That'll make the pain go away any day.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®