March 5, 2020

Bar Exam 2022: From dives to craft cocktails, Miami's best institutions of higher imbibing

For many, the neighborhood bar is a place to meet old friends, new friends, and friends-yet-to-be, to celebrate triumphs large and small, and, yes, to drown our sorrows.

Many memorable films — from Casablanca and Rick’s Café Américain to Star Wars and the Mos Eisley Cantina — feature prominent bar scenes. And it’s likely that some of the best -- and worst -- decisions in history were made in bars.

Last year, a pandemic dimmed the lights on our favorite taverns, sports bars, and lounges. But, praise Dionysus, we're starting to gather and raise our glass to each other once again.

In early 2020, we published a New Times guide to Miami’s 50 best institutions of higher imbibing. This year, we’re doubling down.

From quiet lounges where the martinis are impeccable to boisterous sports bars and convivial taprooms, here are the 100 best bars in Miami.

Laine Doss, food editor

“Bar Exam 2022” is written by Laine Doss, Nicole Danna, and Amber Love Bond.

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

3 Sons Brewing Co.

3 Sons Brewing Co.
Photo by Magic Muncie
3 Sons Brewing Co. founder/brewer Corey Artanis made his debut on South Florida's craft-beer scene with his over-the-top, dessert-inspired stouts, creating a following that was thirsty for more. After several years as a nomad brewer, Artanis opened 3 Sons — named for his three boys — in the heart of Dania Beach. While the brewer remains well-known for his intensely flavored, barrel-aged imperial stouts, beer enthusiasts flock to his taproom for a taste of a wide variety of beer styles. That means you can find just about anything to pair with a meal on a daily draft lineup that runs the gamut from a lightly hopped, easy-drinking American-style rice lager dubbed "Rice Crispy Bois" to intensely fruited sours so thick they pour from the can or tap line with a creamy, smoothie-like consistency. The in-house kitchen prepares food that's just as crafty and small-batch as the beer, from Neapolitan pizzas to tacos calzones to dashi butter chicken wings.
236 N. Federal Highway, Ste. 104, Dania Beach, 33004

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

The Abbey Brewing Company

The Abbey Brewing Company
Photo courtesy of Abbey Brewing Company
Miami Beach's first official craft beer bar, the Abbey Brewing Company opened in 1995 — you know, before it was cool. It's now a landmark for those seeking handcrafted brews (not to mention a curated selection of small-batch whiskeys, rare wines, and small bites) in an intimate setting removed from the hustle and bustle of Ocean Drive. Although the menu offers a full liquor bar, the half-dozen house-made brews are the focus here, thanks to founder and longtime brewmaster Raymond Rigazio, whose offerings include a series of Trappist-themed beers like Brother Aaron's Quadrupel, Sister Tina's Tripel, and Brother Dan's Dubbel.
1115 16th St., Miami Beach, 33139

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

Alabama Jack's

Alabama Jack's
Is it the first stop on your way to the Keys or your last stop on the way home? That's for you to decide. Either way, Alabama Jack's is an institution. It's on a lonely stretch of Card Sound Road — the alternative to U.S. 1 that tourists en route to the Keys hardly ever use. When you reach the sign that says, "This Place Sucks! I Wouldn't Come Back!" you know you've arrived. This dive bar is a favorite with bikers, boaters, and anyone who enjoys a few cold ones and a plate of hot conch fritters. It's not pretty (though the views are). It's not fancy, but it is a piece of old Florida Keys life that's eroding away by strip malls and chain hotels. ($$)
58000 Card Sound Rd., Key Largo, 33037

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

The Anderson

The Anderson
The Anderson
The building that houses the Anderson has been a bar far longer than most of us have been alive. Restaurateur Ken Lyon has given the space new life with lush outdoor gardens, a tiki bar, and the taco joint El Toro Taco, decorated with wonderful black-and-white photos of people and places in Mexico — all shot by Lyon on his various trips to the country. Between the indoor lounge, the outdoor patios, and the eatery designed to look like a food truck, the Anderson seems more like its own little world than a simple bar and kitchen. ($$)
709 NE 79th St., Miami, 33138

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

The Auld Dubliner Irish Pub & Kitchen

The Auld Dubliner Irish Pub & Kitchen
Photo by Laine Doss
Nearly every major city in the world has at least a handful of Irish pubs where you can grab a pint of Guinness, some curry fries, and watch football (the real kind). Auld Dubliner's looks are deceiving: Nestled in a nondescript row of storefronts, a passerby might mistake it for a cell phone repair shop. But enter and you're transported to the Emerald Isle — from the witty sayings on the wall to the football on the telly to the telltale aroma of shepherd's pie wafting from the kitchen. With a fine selection of Irish whiskey on the shelves, bartenders who know how to pour a proper Guinness, and live music on the weekends, the Auld Dubliner is a great place to channel the friendliness — and the booze — of Ireland without leaving the Magic City.
91 NW First St., Miami, 33128

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

Baby Jane

Baby Jane
Photo courtesy of Baby Jane
Late-night noodles, cocktails, and lively vibes are what's in store inside Brickell's Baby Jane. Here, guests can hang until the wee hours of the morning sipping cocktails crafted by Miami bar veterans Gui Jaroschy and David Cedeno. This Asian-inspired hotspot offers indoor and outdoor seating, but don't be surprised if there's a bit of a wait to get in. Adorned by a bright neon light that says, "I'll have what she's having," the intimate space is outfitted with booths that line the sides of the bar, a few high tops, and seating that allows j-u-s-t enough space to dance if the moment calls for it.
500 Brickell Ave., Suite 105E, Miami, 33131

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

The Bar at the Yard

The Bar at the Yard
Photo by Rod Deal
Though it's just one part of a larger complex, the Bar at the Doral Yard has its own personality. The large wooden bar serves as both the focal point of the Doral Yard and a gathering place for locals to chill on plush, oversize barstools. The cocktails are well thought out and tap into local flavors of guava, coconut, and even cafecito. The Bar at the Yard offers daily specials including an industry night, making this one friendly place to grab a few drinks.
8455 NW 53rd St., Ste. 106, Doral, 33166

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

Bar Nancy

Bar Nancy
Courtesy of Nancy
Little Havana's Bar Nancy sports rustic, nautical-inspired décor and a healthy selection of craft cocktails. The bar — named for the brigantine Nancy, which transported war supplies during the American Revolution — offers cocktails named after ships or patriotic themes or both. The "Abigail Adams" is made with Ford’s gin, peach liqueur, lemon, strawberry, cucumber, and soda; the "Stem to Stern" consists of apricot-infused Bulleit rye, lemon, apricot jam, and ginger ale. There's live music, and a daily happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. offers half-priced drinks. ($$)
2007 SW Eighth St., Miami, 33135

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

BarMeli69

BarMeli69
Courtesy of Barmeli69 Greek Bistro & Wine Bar
This tapas and wine bar, located in Miami’s MiMo District, sits alongside a no-tell motel. The location makes BarMeli69 seem all the more like a hidden gem, a personal find, the kind of place you whisper about to your friends, as in, “I just found this great little joint.” Inside, the restaurant feels like one of those wonderful little bistros or tavernas you only see in movies. You really can’t pinpoint the exact country or town; you just know it’s charming. Wines are predominantly from the Mediterranean, including off-the-grid selections from Sardinia and Israel. All the tapas are delicious, but the showstopper is the flaming saganaki; the Greek cheese dish is doused with brandy and set aflame. A friendly, casual vibe, an outdoor patio in back, along with good food and drinks at reasonable prices, makes BarMeli69 a great neighborhood joint. ($$)
6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33138

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

Barracuda Taphouse & Grill

Barracuda Taphouse & Grill
Barracuda is more than your average neighborhood bar and grill. This pink-hued bar, located on a side street in Coconut Grove, has been around for more than a decade. The interior is decorated in what could be described as "frat house-on-the-sea" — plenty of UM signs compete with shark jaws and the ubiquitous international currency stapled to every free spot around the bar. What really separates Barracuda from the pack, though, is its extensive beer list — about 60 rotating beers and ciders guarantee that you and your mates will never want for variety. Pair a few brews with some wings or fish dip, feed a few bucks into the jukebox, and you've got the makings of a perfect weekend afternoon-slipping-into-evening. ($$)
3035 Fuller St., Coconut Grove, 33133

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

Batch Gastropub Miami

Batch Gastropub Miami
Courtesy of Batch Gastropub
There's always a full house at this bustling American gastropub. Equal parts sports bar, lounge, and restaurant, Batch is the place to gather for soccer games, NBA tilts, boxing matches, and gridiron showdowns. The restaurant is also lively after work, when Brickell businesspeople and residents alike pour in for locally sourced pub grub, from bison burgers to brick-oven pizza, that pairs perfectly with a lengthy drink list offering a wide range of beers, wines, and other creative cocktails. Happy hour — Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. — is a can't-miss. ($$)
30 SW 12th St., Miami, 33130

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

Beaker & Gray

Beaker & Gray
billwisserphoto.com
Sure, Beaker & Gray is a restaurant that serves innovative dishes courtesy of co-owner Brian Nasajon. But you'd be remiss if you dismissed its cocktail program, led by Nasajon's partner, Ben Potts, as a side affair. Beaker & Gray's list of libations is as strong as its food menu; for some patrons, it's a destination in itself. Potts has created an extensive drink menu, including classics such as an elegant take on a Moscow mule and the "Ginstagram," made with Hendrick's gin, Cocchi Americano, falernum, passionfruit, orgeat, and Peychaud's bitters. Beaker & Gray offers a selection of nonalcoholic cocktails as well, for when you're parched yet "dry." ($$)
2637 N. Miami Ave., Miami, 33127

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

Better Days

Better Days
Photo courtesy of Better Days
Brickell's best-known dive bar, Better Days, is one of those "anything goes" spots that's great for happy hour or that very last drink of the night. While there's no formal cocktail menu, the bartenders are ready and willing to make whatever is requested — though tequila shots are a fan favorite. The dark, cozy space is outfitted with a pool table, string lights, and flamingo décor, with a bar in the center and seating in the form of couches and a church pew around the room. Start the week with a Monday karaoke session or dance the night away with the weekend DJ. Either way, it's always a better day at Better Days.
75 SE Sixth St., Ste. 103, Miami, 33131

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

Black Market Miami

Black Market Miami
Courtesy of Black Market
Most Miami sports bars have one thing in common: disappointed sports fans. It makes sense, then, that you'd want a sports bar that can make even the worst game seem bearable. That's where Black Market Miami comes in. In 2017 founders Erick Passo and Mike Mora opened an upscale, well-appointed bar that was a welcome change to the area's chain options. Today, it remains one of the city's best spots to hang out come game day. Looking to expand, the duo would reminisce about the memories made at the Bayside Hooters — now the site of a second location. The new space is equipped with more than 40 TV monitors (many of them outside) and an open-air bar overlooking the nearby marina. No matter which location you choose, the Black Market vibe can erase any sore loser's bad mood. Unlike most hole-in-the-wall sports bars, Black Market has more to offer than just viewing pleasure; it also serves some seriously crafty cocktails, including a smoked old fashioned and a sparkline wine-topped mezcal margarita alongside a variety of draft craft beers. The food menu is generous, too, with a mix of casual and upscale options that range from burgers, sandwiches, and salads to wings tossed in a variety of sauces.
168 SE First St., Miami, 33130

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

Blackbird Ordinary

Blackbird Ordinary
Courtesy of Blackbird Ordinary
Is it a dive bar or a club? Upon arriving at Blackbird Ordinary in search of a serious cocktail, you might think you've come to the wrong place. But the keen-eyed customer will spot the live herbs on the tables and the bartenders immersed in their craft. Specialty drinks are named for birds (duh), and, like the winged creatures, each cocktail is a beautiful and rare thing to behold. Whatever you choose, your drink will be assiduously prepared with house-made syrups and fresh fruits and herbs, allowing its combined flavors to take flight. ($$)
729 SW First Ave., Miami, 33130

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

Bleau Bar

Bleau Bar
Photo courtesy of Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Located in the lobby of the iconic Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel, Bleau Bar was a popular hangout for the Rat Pack back in the 1950s. These days it's a hotspot for grabbing a cocktail before heading to dinner at one of the hotel's several restaurants or downstairs to dance the night away at LIV. After a recent renovation, Bleau Bar debuted a series of 16-foot-tall screens that allow a little separation between the hotel's entrance and the bar area. Guests can take a seat at the massive teardrop-shaped bar or at an exclusive table for bottle service. On the menu: classic cocktails, a broad selection of spirits — and plenty of people-watching.
4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 33139

The 100 Best Miami Bars of 2022

Bob's Your Uncle

Bob's Your Uncle
Bob's Your Uncle
The original location of this dive bar is located on New York’s Upper West Side; the Miami Beach outpost was re-created after owner Danielle Savin flew south and decided this was a great place to open a little watering hole. Bob’s Your Uncle is Normandy Isle’s go-to spot to be treated like family (even when you don’t want to be around your own). Whether it’s a classic cocktail, beer on tap, or even a Jell-O shot — everything is served with a smile. The bar's personality extends to the restroom hallway, adorned with photos of famous Bobs throughout history — from De Niro to Saget. Pro tip: Bob's is the perfect place to grab a cold one while waiting for a table at the adjacent sushi restaurant. ($)
928 71st St., Miami Beach, 33141