The Wilder
Photo by Chris Carter

Broward folks know it's tough to find a swanky, sexy, stylish bar without having to endure the road rage on southbound I-95, but with the recent opening of the Wilder, they can stay local and park in the expansive back lot for free. There's no signage (that's part of the point), so simply follow the well-groomed millennial crowd. There are several spaces to enjoy, from the patio decked out in Spanish tiles and blooming bougainvillea, to the intimate central bar that has the feel of a classy hotel lobby, to the expansive space in the back (outfitted with its own bar) for larger crowds. The Wilder hits all the marks with topnotch cocktails explained with whimsical illustrations, drinks such as the We Want Prenup ($14), made with gin, sage-infused vermouth, lemon honey, and Greek yogurt, and the Don't Sleep on Me ($14), a combo of Afrohead rum, Giffard Vanille de Madagascar, and taro milk tea, are très chic. Happy your runs weekdays from 4 to 7 and offers $3 off all cocktails. If you get the munchies, small bites such as the short-rib poutine ($15), panko-crusted chicken breast sliders with jalapeño spread ($12), and grilled octopus ($15) are seamlessly swooped in from next door's Foxy Brown. Miamians might want to consider the trek north for this gem.

Yeah, yeah, Duffy's Sports Grill is a chain, but, hey, this is Florida's chain! And Duffy's in North Miami Beach is something special to behold. Not only is this 25,000-square-foot restaurant and bar massive, but also the huge covered deck overlooking the water is simply stunning. Let's talk sports. Duffy's has every major sports package and about 150 flat-screens. It's almost impossible not to get a seat with your own TV to watch whatever sporting event you desire. Let's talk booze. Duffy's offers one of the greatest drink specials available: Buy one, get one free for almost every beer and mixed drink. This deal isn't just for happy hour. It's all day every day. That's right: BOGO booze as soon as you step in the door. Last but not least, let's talk food. Essentials at every sports bar are the chicken wings, and Duffy's does not disappoint. Its best wings are breaded with a signature firecracker sauce ($12.99). They're crisp on the outside and moist and tender on the inside and come tossed in that spicy yet slightly sweet firecracker sauce. This place caters to almost every palate. There's even a gluten-sensitive menu. Stop by Duffy's in North Miami Beach for a wonderful sporting experience — whether you sit inside or out, you'll leave with a smile on your face, especially if your team wins. Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Rusty Pelican
Photo courtesy of Rusty Pelican

Here's a reason to visit the Rusty Pelican for something other than Mother's Day and your birthday: happy hour. Every Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., the lounge at the Pelican offers some of the top deals in Miami with arguably the most striking view in South Florida. Grab a seat at an outdoor table near the flaming fire pit. Sip $6 beers; $7 well drinks such as martinis, mojitos, and margaritas; and $6 house wines. Chow down on small bites such as corvina ceviche ($8) and Serrano ham croquettes ($10). After all these years, it's fair to say the Pelican's swank atmosphere remains a culinary example and a Miami landmark.

Her given name may be Courtney, but like many badasses — Madonna, Cher, Beyoncé — this 26-year-old bartender is simply known as Lane. Starting out, as most drink slingers do, Lane did her share of working at dance clubs and socials in Gainesville, where she opened cans of Bud Light and poured rum and Cokes made with cheap well liquor. The petite blonde decided there's more to life behind the stick, and from there it's been accolade after accolade. In 2015, Lane got her big break working the artist and media bar at III Points. From there, it's been an uphill trajectory, with Lane working at what are arguably Miami Beach's finest cocktail bars — Employees Only and Broken Shaker. At the bar, she's a whirling dervish of shaking, mixing, and pouring. Recently, she and her Employees Only partner won top prize at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Art of Tiki competition for a drink they created. Lane is someone whom young girls should strive to be and everyone wants to know — a talented, driven woman who will fix you the best cocktail of your life.

Broken Shaker
Karli Evans

Once upon a time, two men named Gabe Ora and Elad Zvi decided to open a pop-up bar at a Miami Beach hostel. This was way back when dinosaurs walked the Earth, pop-ups were rare, and a well-made cocktail on the Beach was even rarer. That didn't stop these intrepid heroes, who made crafted drinks using freshly grown herbs, premium spirits, and house-made bitters. Pretty soon, Miami Beach imbibers learned there was a world beyond vodka Red Bulls and frozen piña coladas made with grain alcohol. The local cocktail movement grew, and quality bars opened. Meanwhile, the little pop-up, which was named the Broken Shaker, became a permanent fixture at the Freehand on Indian Creek Drive. It began winning national and international awards, and celebrities were seen hanging out and drinking its delicious creations. The little bar expanded to Los Angeles and Chicago, and there are plans to open soon in New York City. Despite its popularity and accolades from across the nation, the bar remains a fun place to chill. Though success and fame haven't gone to its founder's heads, a few cocktails ($12 to $13) just might.

Best Bloody Mary
Photo by Laine Doss

Behold man's greatest invention: the bloody mary. This elixir of the gods does what no other libation can hope to do — revive the dead. But not all bloodys are the same. In order for this magical potion to work its spell, it must have the correct amount of spice and a substantial amount of booze. The perfect bloody must always be served with a wedge of citrus and olives (because the citrus and brine are additional hangover helpers). Berries in the Grove's bloody checks all the boxes. Take a sip of this tall drink and feel the blood rush back into your body and the steady thumping of both head and heart slow to a controllable pace. Take another sip as your hands steady themselves and relax in the beautiful indoor/outdoor setting. Settle in for a spell. They cost only seven bucks each, so make a day of it. The restaurant opens at 7 a.m. daily and closes at 10 p.m. Sunday, 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Best Mojito
Courtesy of Estefan Enterprises

The mojito is a mingling of ingredients found everywhere in Cuba — rum, limes, mint, and sugarcane — plus soda water because the weather is so damn hot. In Miami, the drink is equally loved by locals and tourists. And because a good mojito requires an extreme amount of muddling, it is despised by busy bartenders. These days, what separates a good mojito from a watery, oversweetened one is pretty obvious: quality rum and fresh ingredients. That means a good white rum for its smooth, clean flavor; lime juice so fresh it will turn your drink opaque; and fresh, not processed, cane sugar. And don't forget the fresh mint leaves. That's the way Gloria and Emilio Estefan's restaurant Larios on the Beach makes its mojitos. Plus, each is served with a slice of real sugarcane in the glass. The traditional costs $15; for a dollar more, try flavors such as watermelon, passionfruit, strawberry, and mango. Or go all-out with a giant pitcher to share with friends for $55.

Question: What happens when a world-class chef adds his own twist to a classic cocktail? Answer: Bar Centro's Clean 'n Dirty martini ($16). Instead of using the olive-juice dregs poured into the usual dirty martini, this beauty is made with olive brine "air" — a delicate wisp of salty foam that tastes like a mermaid's kiss. The brine air is the genius of chef José Andrés, whose culinary influence at his neighboring restaurant, the Bazaar, extends to this bar. The cocktail, made with vodka (ask for gin for a more complex drink, or stick with vodka if you want that mermaid's kiss to linger), is topped with an olive spherification instead of an olive. Again, the chef is at work, gently encapsulating the essence of an olive into a delicate swirling dome of perfection that you can pop in your mouth. This drink is the ultimate marriage of classic flavors and modern technique. Hours are 6 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Wednesday and 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, and lunch is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Rosa Mexicano
Courtesy of Rosa Mexicano

Rosa Mexicano's first Florida location opened in downtown Miami in 2007, but the restaurant's roots date back much further. In 1984 in Manhattan, the eatery opened the doors to its first location. The idea was to show New Yorkers that authentic Mexican didn't mean bean-and-beef burritos — and a proper margarita didn't have to be neon green and made from a mix. Three decades later, Rosa Mexicano boasts outposts from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. At the Brickell restaurant, a 15-foot water wall and Acapulco cliff-diver figurines welcome you. It's fitting, because after a few of the bar's many agave cocktails — there are 14 varieties, priced from $12.50 to $16 — you'll be brave enough to take such a plunge yourself. Flavors range from strawberry and grapefruit to spicy cucumber and mango chili, but the house specialty remains the frozen pomegranate margarita, also the bar's signature cocktail since the early '80s. Two giant slushy machines behind the bar mean your refill is ready in seconds. Each one is prepared with a simple blend of blanco tequila, house triple sec, lime juice, and a ruby-hued pomegranate concentrate. If you take yours with salt, you won't get the cheap stuff — your margarita will arrive with a rim of delicate shavings of flor de sal that melt on your tongue. And, at $12.50 apiece, they're downright addictive.

BarMeli69
Courtesy of Barmeli69 Greek Bistro & Wine Bar

Walk into a bar anywhere in the United States, and the menu will likely list burgers, wings, and such. But did you ever wonder what kinds of bites a bar in, say, Greece or Southern Italy would serve? Bar Meli answers that nagging question: stuffed grape leaves ($4), warm pita with spicy feta spread ($6), and prosciutto-wrapped dates ($4). This MiMo District wine bar is the next best thing to booking a ticket to a waterfront European destination. Sidle up to the bar and order a wine from Israel or a beer from Greece while you're waiting for your food. If by chance your neighbor orders the saganaki ($14) — which arrives in flames to the delight and applause of the room — order one too before your FOMOC (fear of missing out on cheese) flares up. Hours are 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®