Serving great vibes in a laid-back yet upbeat and friendly atmosphere has become Sweet Liberty's specialty, garnering the South Beach hangout a collection of local and international awards. In the four years since the bar debuted, the menu has seen small changes here and there, but now Sweet Liberty has overhauled its offerings, including 14 new cocktails and seven new dishes.
It also marks another refresh since the June 2018 passing of Sweet Liberty's founding father, John Lermayer.
"This is an attempt to move forward. I know that John would do it better, but we had to bring things up a bit," general manager Fraser Hamilton says of the difficulty in continuing the legacy of the industry legend. Holding themselves to Lermayer's high standards, Hamilton and the award-winning bar team put their talents and creativity together to produce what might be their best menu yet.
Divided into sections, the drink menu offers "Fancy Cocktails" and "Classy Classics" in the center of the menu and bubbles, wine, and beer on the left and right side panels. The menu's artwork nods to pop culture in colorful graphics such as Austin Powers' Mini-Me under the half bottles of champagne, '80s Bud Light mascot Spuds MacKenzie positioned by his brews, and Game of Thrones' fiercely bearded Tormund Giantsbane next to his Giant's Milk ($15) — a blend of Rhum JM 110, Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, passionfruit, condensed milk, allspice, cinnamon, and a flaming lime husk.
Giant's Milk joins two other rum-based drinks in the "Tiki AF" subsection of "Fancy Cocktails": Tiki Pastelito ($16), made with Redland guava marmalade, spiced butter, and cream cheese syrup, and the Blue Zombie ($16). "Tiki is in vogue right now," Hamilton says. "These are drinks we've been trying to put out for a year. John thought that no one was ready for rhum agricole yet — the heavier stuff from Jamaica or Barbados, as opposed to the lighter Puerto Rican or Cuban rum. These are a bit more complex and showy. Everything is on fire and covered in a bunch of different garnishes."
A standout in "Fancy Cocktails" is Mom, It's a Vase... ($14). The drink — a blend of Charbay green tea vodka, passionfruit, ginger, and guajillo pepper syrup — arrives in a bong-shaped glass. Dry ice creates a smoking effect for a fun, Instagram-worthy (and legal) libation. Cardi B ($14) is named for its use of cardamom and Belvedere vodka with Amaro Nonino, raspberry, lemon, egg white, and black pepper — packing a punch just like the rapper herself.
The Classy Classics — introduced by a photo of Lermayer waving the American flag — will always remain tried and true, but two newcomers pay tribute to two other beloved Miami bar professionals who passed away in the past year. The Great Carlotto Caper ($14) is dedicated to Ben Carlotto, who was the general manager of Sweet Liberty at one point in his international career. The drink is made with Bombay Sapphire gin, Dolin Dry, basil oil, and caper berry, and $1 from each sold will be donated to Hope for the Day Charity to support mental health education and suicide prevention. Scumbag-liato ($12) is a take on a Sbagliato — with Campari, Italian vermouth, and prosecco — in honor of Richie Petronzi, a longtime Miami bartender and friend of Lermayer's who frequently gave that nickname to those he loved most. "That was what he called all of us and sometimes worse names, but we couldn't really print that on the menu," Hamilton says.
The reverse side of the menu offers an expanded food lineup thanks to partner, creative director, and chef Michelle Bernstein. But don't worry — the cauliflower nachos aren't going anywhere.
New items include executive chef Domingo Vivas' '80s salmon tower ($22), which is basically a salmon poke bowl stacked in the retro style of a cylindrical tower using premium Scottish wild salmon. More finger food has been added, including veggie falafel poppers ($12), made with cauliflower and served with a side of turmeric house pickles and green goddess tahini using five herbs. Back by popular demand, the Cuban torta ($16) is a delicious Cuban sandwich served on Sullivan Street bread. Rounding out the diverse menu, a big bowl of French onion soup with melted Gruyère ($12) and fried duck leg à l'orange ($18) ensure there's something for everyone to enjoy till 4 a.m.
"We've always preached diversity," owner and partner Dan Binkiewicz proudly states. "That's what Sweet Liberty, and this country, is about. You can come in and get served high-quality food. There's French, Cuban, Latin, Mediterranean, American, Asian."
Adds Bernstein: "It's basically like Miami."
Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Co. 237-B 20th St., Miami Beach; 305-763-8217; mysweetliberty.com.