Once upon a time, there was a busy little corner with a café named Mary's. This magical shop, located inside a laundromat, smelled like freshly cleaned blankets and coffee. All sorts of good people gathered there to drink an elixir known as café con leche. This hot beverage, the color of chocolate pudding, was rich and sweet, and when the townsfolk drank it, they were energized no matter what time of day or night. In the morning, workers dropped in for a quick pick-me-up before heading to their jobs. In the afternoon, people would gather for a shot of the drink on their way back from lunch. Even in the middle of the night, folks who worked while the rest of the city slept — policemen, paramedics, and others who burned the midnight oil — flocked to the window at Mary's for a much-needed caffeine fix (only $1.87 for a medium). The little café was an important part of the community. The people of Miami loved her for that, and they all lived happily ever after.

The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami

Of all the cocktails in the world, the martini conjures up the most romance. After all, it's the drink that James Bond sips (shaken, not stirred) in those moments between bedding a gorgeous babe and saving Her Majesty and mankind. Because of that, note must be made not only of those who take proper care in the making of the martini, but also in the ambiance of the drink. Even the best-made cocktail of its ilk loses face if served in a red Solo cup. Which is why you're at Lazuli Lounge, the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove's indigo-tinged oasis, for the Spice of the Ritz-Carlton ($14). Just like Bond and one of his girls, spicy pepper vodka coos to fragrant St-Germain as they're both kissed by lime and heated by red pepper flakes. Sexy and sophisticated, it's the ultimate cocktail for the international man (or woman) of mystery.

Dearest mojito:

Why do you tempt me with your delicate notes of sweetness?

The way your mint leaves dance around the white rum —

That twirl is enough to drive sound minds mad.

Your body sparkles,

Your contact cools,

Your taste excites.

Refresh me, but don't emborrachar me.

Morgans

The bloody mary's origins are continually debated. Its alleged progenitors include Queen Mary I of England, comedian George Jessel, and French bartender Fernand Petiot. Most drinkers, however, don't give a hoot how it began; they just need that good old-fashioned hangover cure — and fast. Though Miami's focus on nightlife has made finding a good version of this daytime drink a challenge, the Morgans Restaurant's bloody saki offers a refreshing twist on the classic. It includes fresh tomato purée and juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, hot sauce, celery salt, ground black pepper, and Old Bay seasoning. Instead of the traditional vodka, Morgans opts for Gekkeikan sake. Before you bemoan the loss of liquor, the lightness of the sake makes this bloody an even better postpartying option. While neutrally flavored vodka typically lets the tomato foundation take over, the sake adds a touch of bittersweet saltiness that complements the drink well. Generously portioned and garnished with olives, lemon, and celery, the $10 bloody saki is a satisfying steal.

Uvaggio Wine Bar
Photo by Bill Wisser

What sets this wine bar apart from others? It puts wine at the center of everything. At Uvaggio, a classy little hole in the wall on Miracle Mile's long strip, the menu celebrates and elevates the grownups' juice. The menu is shaped by the wine selection. Instead of recommending a drink to go along with your meal, waiters recommend a small dish to pair with your wine. The cocktails aren't even safe from this dictum: no vodka or rum here. Instead, the chef and sommelier base their cocktails on sparkling wines and the like. Speaking of the chef and sommelier, Uvaggio employs a topnotch team, including former Top Chef contestant Bret Pelaggi, world-class sommelier Heath Porter, and wine collector and businessman Craig DeWald — so you know you're in the right place for drinks and exquisitely prepared dishes.

Lou's Beer Garden
George Martinez

You might be over the word "chillax," but you can still get behind the sentiment. Try sitting poolside in a non-sceney way with a cold brew while devouring delectable mini crabcakes with bitching sauce ($17). That's what Lou's Beer Garden has to offer. It's a hidden gem in North Beach that's like the kid brother of the Broken Shaker. You will feel like you're in a friend's backyard — if that friend had an awesome beer collection that took up the whole center column of a menu. Lou's has served everything from banana bread beer to big Belgian to local Florida ales. Sure, they make pretty good mixed drinks, but you come here for the craft beer libations, ambiance, and crabcakes.

Wynwood Brewing Company
Photo by Amadeus McCaskill

It was only a few years ago that Miami's beer scene was dismal. But then something wonderful happened. Passionate homebrewers emerged and formed a community. These dedicated men and women brewed keg upon keg, turning garages and spare bedrooms into tiny breweries. They spent thousands of dollars only to give the fruits of their labor away. These beers began gaining a following and winning accolades, which led to some making the leap. Wynwood's family brewery was one of the first to open. It makes about a half-dozen standards, with seasonal and small-batch beers always on tap in the tasting room, which also serves as a showcase for local emerging artists. And the beer? From the refreshing La Rubia to the rich Pop's Porter, they're satisfying, fresh, and unique.

Huahua's Taqueria

Some say midnight is the bewitching hour. We say it's the time when dinner's satisfaction has worn away, leaving you with a gnawing hunger. The midnight snack was invented to cure this curious malady, leaving you with a dilemma: Do you go to a diner and stuff yourself with eggs that taste of grill grease, order from a fast-food drive-thru, or choose a better option — tacos at Huahua's Taqueria? This SoBe taco stand is the brainchild of chef/partner Todd Erickson, the man behind gastro-nirvana Haven. It tempts with nearly a dozen types of tacos, both traditional (carnitas) and whimsical (fried chicken). Pescetarians, vegetarians, and carnivores can sit side-by-side chomping contentedly as a new day quickly approaches. At less than four bucks apiece, they're even cheaper than that Grand Slam you were eyeing out of desperation. Huahua's is open only until 11 p.m. on weekdays, but the 4 a.m. closing time on weekends is just right for late-night bites.

There's no doubt fried food is the tastiest food on Planet Earth. Nothing beats consuming all that greasy goodness when it's 3 a.m. on a Sunday and you're drunk. Though pepitos, or Venezuelan subs, are an obvious choice at Pepitolandia, there's much more on the menu to choose from. The footlong bistro pepito ($9.99) comes stuffed with beef, chicken, or a combination of the two, mozzarella, bacon, shoestring potatoes, sweet corn, and onion sauce. And it's all served on a toasted bun. That will definitely sober you up. The American parrilla ($7.99 for a small, $15.99 for a large) brings a selection of meat, mushrooms, grilled onions, and melted cheese tossed over a bed of french fries — or fried or boiled yuca. There's plenty of grub for the DDs too. If you get hungry from watching your drunk buddy devour his pepito, down the full hamburger ($8.99), crowned with shoestring potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, egg, ham, melted cheese, and avocado and drizzled with onion sauce. Or try the Hawaiian hot dog ($4.50), topped with pineapple sauce, shoestring potatoes, and mozzarella. Burp.

There's not much we know about Tom Colicchio's still-unnamed restaurant that will open sometime in fall 2014 at the 1 Hotel & Homes in South Beach, so why all the hype? Well, in a world of celebrity chefs who serve donkey sauce and frozen food, Colicchio remains a chef first and foremost. He just happens to be the head judge on an Emmy Award-winning cooking show. Colicchio got his first kitchen gig at the age of 17 and, since then, has opened some of the finest restaurants in the United States, including Gramercy Tavern, Craft, and Colicchio & Sons. He's a multiple James Beard Award winner who also has a conscience; he supports various charities, such as City Harvest and Alex's Lemonade Foundation. His Miami restaurant will use locally sourced produce and seafood (he has friends in the right places), but most of all, it will be a major contribution to Miami's growing legitimate food scene. Plus, let's hope it will attract more sightings of Padma Lakshmi in a bikini.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®