Hyde Beach
Hyde Beach

Time for some real talk: It's damn difficult to mess up a poolside bar in Miami. You're beside a pool. There's a bar. You purchase cocktails, dip your feet into the water, and basically live the American dream as you sip your way to the bottom. How hard can this be, people? Yet an astonishing number of Miami hotels have conspired to ruin this simplest of good things with eye-poppingly overpriced drinks, shoddy service, and pools that are either inaccessibly hip or packed to the gills with sunburned out-of-towners. So props to Hyde Beach for getting it so right. Inside, the bar is decked out like a '70s Brady Bunch rec room, but outside there's 8,000 square feet of pool and beach fun. There are pitchers of mango mojitos ($80) and cucumber watermelon margaritas ($18), or for true backyard ballers, bottles of Moët & Chandon Ice ($475) and vases of sangria made tableside ($200).

Living Room
Photo courtesy of Living Room

Usually every W Hotel has a bar dubbed Living Room, and the South Beach outpost is no different. And though we've stayed at other W locations around North America, we've yet to find one with a lobby bar scene that's as chic as our local one. Beautiful women? Check. Power players? Check. Well-versed bartenders? Check. Excellent cocktails? Check. In fact, it's hard to believe that with so many lovely things surrounding you that the cocktails are still the star here. Concocted by noted mixologist and author Scott Beattie, the drink menu features creatively crafted libations that are meant to be sipped, not chugged. Complex flavors reveal themselves as they touch your tongue and slowly make their way to the back of your throat. Some of our favorites include the Hemingway daiquiri (aged rum, agricole blanc, fresh lime and grapefruit juices, simple syrup, maraschino liqueur, and bitters) and the Miami Manhattan (whiskey, bourbon, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, and old-fashioned bitters), which revamp classic cocktails with fresh flavors and give their syrupy impostors the boot. All cocktails cost $16 but are well worth the price. Plus, the W's masculine yet inviting setting means you'll never want to leave.

Doraku Izakaya and Sushi
Courtesy of Doraku

Question not found on a recent SAT:

Sally had a shitty day at work. She's hangry and needs a few drinks but has only 20 bucks. What does Sally do?

A. She goes home — this is South Beach. You can't eat and drink for $20.

B. She buys a few cans of Four Loko at 7-Eleven and drinks them in the park.

C. She goes to Doraku during happy hour (5 to 7 p.m. daily) and gets two lychee martinis (two for $5), a California roll ($3), a crunchy crab roll ($4), and an order of edamame ($2).

Please think carefully before answering.

There's no question: Miami is a world-class party city. But for all its late-night charm, the scene can be a little redundant. Oh hey, another night out with beautiful people trying their best not to pay for drinks while staring at their phones and bobbing their heads to EDM! Thankfully, the Garret's Catwalk monthly ballroom party is lighting our cultural fire with something unlike anything else the city offers. This is not your grandmother's ballroom. Rather, it's a celebration of vogue dancing, a trend born in the '80s in New York's gay black community. The originators were often thrown out of their homes for their sexuality and lifestyles, so they made their own homes and began fighting it out on the runway. Once a month, Miami's local DJs Gooddroid and Bonnie Beats team up with the legendary Mike Q to host a friendly yet fierce competition to see who in South Florida really knows how to work. Anyone is welcome to give it a go, but honey, these bitches are bringing it. Don't think for a second you can get away with wingin' it. The guest judges make for interesting times, and the open bar from 11 p.m. to midnight gets the party started. Each month comes with a new theme, so dress to impress and brush up on your skills. Please remember — vogueing and walking are not the same thing. These judges come armed with shade. Don't make them throw it.

Bardot
Courtesy of Bardot

A conundrum: For more than two years, Slap & Tickle has been one of Miami's best bets for a night of perfect grooves and drunken antics. But for more than two years, Slap & Tickle has also been the root cause of an epidemic of brutal Wednesday-morning hangovers around the Magic City. What to do? There's really only one answer: Stock up on coconut water and Advil and resign yourself to a weekday headache. Headed by local DJs Pirate Stereo, Santiago Caballero, and Panic Bomber, S&T was founded with the idea of giving everyone on the decks a place to play what they really love. Whether it's an international DJ delivering a special set or a local up-and-comer looking to get his or her foot in the door, everyone is welcome at S&T. The only rule is that you've got to heat up the dance floor, and because the people who pile in week after week come armed with a deep love of the music, that's not usually a problem. Hatched at the Electric Pickle, the S&T crew has lately made a cozy home on the intimate Bardot floor. There's usually no cover, and with late-night curfews and delicious drink specials, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better time this side of Hump Day.

"La casa de los artistas" is the slogan Kukaramakara uses to promote itself — and it's hard to argue with that self-assessment. In a city where people bow to the temple of the DJ, it's refreshing to see a live music club stake a claim on prime real estate in Brickell. However, live music alone doesn't make for a great Latin nightclub — most Latin clubs employ some kind of live instrumentation. Kukaramakara has set itself apart by doing it well for several years. The Colombian import started out on NE 11th Street in the old Studio A space. But when the posh South American crowds shied away from the dicey area, Kukaramakara made the best decision by packing up and moving to the city's South American expat epicenter of Brickell. Their live bands keep true to the target audience, employing mainly Colombian and Venezuelan musicians who are able to keep the Latin club vibe 100 percent authentic. Drinks are pricey here, but Miamians don't go to the club to eat and slam booze. Enjoy a moderately priced happy hour at one of the countless places nearby and then head to Kukaramakara for the real draw: shaking your ass to live jams until you can pronounce "merengue" like a native, rolled r and all.

The Fillmore Miami Beach
Photo by Jason Koerner

The ghosts of Jackie Gleason and Jerry Garcia roam these halls. Opened in 1950 as the Miami Beach Auditorium, this 3,500-person theater was South Beach's chosen stage for Broadway-style musicals, world-class boxing exhibitions, and cameos by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bob Hope, and other cocktail-set celebrities. By 1964, it had become the official "home," as the façade proclaimed, "of The Jackie Gleason Show." And though the Great One's SoBe run lasted only six years, he earned a new moniker, Mr. Miami Beach, and the auditorium was permanently renamed in his honor. Four decades later, the ex-hippies finally moved into 1700 Washington Ave. and turned it into the southernmost outpost of Live Nation's Fillmore music venue franchise, named after the San Francisco original where Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and so many classic '60s rock bands became legends. Though almost constantly under threat of demolition as part of Miami Beach's ongoing pursuit of a 21st-century convention center, the Fillmore and all its history remains one of the only reasons that many of the world's biggest rock bands — from Vampire Weekend to Modest Mouse and Queens of the Stone Age — even bother visiting our city. And now with the sale of Churchill's Pub, the planned relocation of Tobacco Road, and the surprise closure of the Vagabond, Miami music fans and local opening bands such as Jacuzzi Boys need this storied old joint more than ever. As Jackie (dressed as leather-daddy Elvis) once said: "Noooooow, let's rock it and let's roll it, maaaaaan."

Trade
George Martinez

Thanks to the Magic City's porous earth and position right at sea level, it's a scientific fact that Miami is one of the toughest places in America to get underground. There's a reason no one has a basement around here, folks. South Florida's musical underground, however, is a very different beast, and we're happy to report it's alive and well and ruled by benevolent overlords named Link/Miami Rebels. True EDM animals who've graduated from festival-ready anthems know that this party crew brings the best in progressive, deep, and techie house music that real fans want to hear. And their latest home base, which is not literally underground owing to the aforementioned geological restrictions, is called Trade. The SoBe spot is booked solid with rare and exciting acts across all groovy styles played on a luxurious dance floor under state-of-the-art lighting. With 7,500 square feet of space, Trade prides itself on being highly versatile, with heavy emphasis on a rich, full sound. From the bar to the system, the place was designed with a full-sensory dance experience in mind. It's not exactly Mammoth Caves, but for the 305 underground experience, Trade is the place to be.

The philosophy of this beat-freak hangout is right there in the name: If you're sitting, you're not dancing, and dancing is the whole point. That's why revelers looking for a grittier party experience in SoBe have been flocking to the latest dimly lit dancehall in town, affectionately referred to as Don't Sit. House heads have come to love the no-nonsense atmosphere in a space that's both charming and imaginative without being frilly and over-the-top. All right, the giant carnival ride light-up wheel dangling from the ceiling might be a lot, but when it's not blinking, you can hardly see the person grooving in front of you. The club has churned out great theme nights such as Rewind — a classic-house party — and killer acts like Francis Harris and DJ Behrouz. Combined with an underground feel that even Miami's hard-to-please fans can appreciate, there's little danger of anyone disobeying this club's driving mantra. Who would want to prop his feet up on the sofa anyway with beats like these rocking his brain?

Like the few remaining white warehouse walls just waiting for a tagger to slather on some spray-paint art, the Mana Wynwood Production Village is a blank slate. With a 39,000-square-foot sound stage and 100,000 of raw square footage, the village can host everything from major film shoots to fashion shows. But this year, the space has showed its true potential — as one of Miami's best spots for live music. In a short time, the location has seen Kendrick Lamar, Boy George, DJ Shadow, XXYYXX, Jamie xx, Darkside, and others entertain massive crowds in the heart of the Magic City's booming arts revival. Thanks to Mana's flexible space, organizers have transformed the village into a venue that can rival the Fillmore for production value, with great acoustics and creative stage designs. Let's face it — the city needs another midsize venue. Mana could help fill that void. Here's hoping this blank slate continues to get slathered in live music.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®