From dives to craft cocktails, Miami's best institutions of higher imbibing
Since ancient times, humans have availed themselves of the convivial spirit of bars. In his classic history The Story of Wine, Hugh Johnson writes that the city of Pompeii was home to about 200 wine bars where citizens gathered to drink the product of the soil made fertile by Mount Vesuvius. Centuries later, revolutions were plotted in colonial taverns and pirates traded spoils and information in the dark bars of their time.
To this day, the corner bar is a community meeting place. We repair to our favorite bars to watch the big game, to celebrate a birthday, or simply to enjoy that most aptly named activity, the "happy hour."
In precisely that spirit (see what we did there?), New Times offers a toast to the 50 best Miami bars. Here, listed in alphabetical order, are the places you'll most likely find us bellied up with a beverage in our hand and a drinking buddy or three at our side.
You won't find Ama easily. The speakeasy inside Brad Kilgore's Kaido is so secretive the room is virtually impossible to find without a guide. Once checked in, you're led to a secret double passageway that finally leads to Ama, where you're asked to refrain from taking photos and using social media in the bar. Once inside, you'll find a good selection of Japanese whisky, including rare vintages from decades past, along with a full food and drink menu. Perhaps the most surprising twist is Kaido's take on a pickleback. The drink, usually downed in Brooklyn dive bars as a precursor to a long night of imbibing cheap beer and booze, consists of a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice. Here, guests chase Japanese whisky with chilled shiitake broth, which is richer and more complex than a glass of brine, imbuing the shot with an exotic flair.
The building that houses the Anderson has been a bar far longer than most of us have been alive. Now restaurateur Ken Lyon has given the space new life with a lush outdoor garden, a tiki bar, and the 21-seat taco joint El Toro Taco. Between the indoor lounge, the outdoor patio, and the eatery designed to look like a food truck, the Anderson seems more like its own little world than simply a bar and kitchen. Insider tip: Take a look at the wonderful black-and-white photos of people and places in Mexico — all taken by Ken Lyon on his various trips to the country.
Sitting above a green-and-white-striped awning, the neon sign for the "World Famous Ball & Chain Bar and Lounge" illuminates SW Eighth Street much as it did nearly 80 years ago. Founded in 1935, Ball & Chain was a jazz palace where the likes of Billie Holiday and Count Basie jammed until the sun came up. The original Ball & Chain closed in 1957, and the neighborhood changed around it. The bar space on Little Havana's Calle Ocho sat unloved for years until current owners Bill Fuller and Zack and Ben Bush brought it back to life. Today guests sip pastelito daiquiris (served with a side of the Cuban pastry) and old-fashioneds prepared with tobacco bitters. The bar pays homage to its roots with almost continuous jazz sets, including impromptu jam sessions by local musicians with dancing that spills onto the street.
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, Giffard crème de pêche, 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.
This tapas and wine bar, located in Miami's MiMo District, sits alongside a no-tell motel. The location makes Bar Meli 69 seem all the more like a hidden gem, a personal find, one of those so-called secret places people whisper about to their friends, as in "I just found this great little joint." Inside, the restaurant feels like one of those wonderful little bistros or tavernas seen in movies. You really can't pinpoint the exact country or town; you just know it's charming. The bar is a welcoming place for commiserating with a comrade over a tough workday. The place is also friendly enough if you're on your own. Wines are predominantly from the Mediterranean, but there are also some interesting selections from Sardinia and Israel. The tapas are all delicious, but the showstopper is the flaming saganaki; the Greek cheese dish is doused with brandy and set aflame. Proteins include plenty of lamb, octopus, and a chicken breast that's nicely charred on the outside and juicy on the inside. Vegetarians have many options, such as piquillo peppers stuffed with manchego cheese, pine nuts, and almonds. A friendly, casual vibe, along with good food and drinks at reasonable prices, makes BarMeli 69 a great neighborhood joint. Insider tip: Owner Liza Meli was a flamenco dancer for years, so don't be surprised if she leads the entire bistro in a rousing dance — sometimes with breaking plates — as the night progresses.
Whether it’s 11:30 a.m. or 11:30 p.m., 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 lamb burgers to truffle fries, 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 5 to 8 p.m. — is a can't-miss.
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 Hendrick's and tonic and the establishment's signature drink, the Halliwell, made with Stolichnaya, Cocchi Americano rosa, ginger, strawberry, and mint. Whatever you do, don't forget the double happy hours, offered from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays and again from 11 p.m. till 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday.
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.
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.
The best neighborhood bar is the one closest to home, but Bougainvillea's, a snug self-described "old Florida tavern" near the Shops at Sunset Place, is worth the trek. Built inside a '40s-era cottage, it's a fine place to sip wine and contemplate humanity or to down beers with friends. The lights are generally set to dim, there's a fireplace, and some tables are set up outside. And the affectionately nicknamed Bougie's is one of the few neighborhood bars to offer live jazz or blues three or four nights a week.
There's no denying that Wynwood is the epicenter of Miami's brewing scene. It also stands to reason that the neighborhood is home to a kickass beer bar. But don't go to Boxelder expecting to be handed a hefty binder filled with hoppy offerings. Here you'll find a well-thought-out selection of about two dozen beers you want to drink. The selection rotates, so consult the TV monitors, which list what's available on tap, along with a description, price, alcohol content, and which glass will be used to serve it. The room is always filled with lively chatter about hops and malt. On weekends, keep an eye out for food trucks (a rotating roster), along with burgers courtesy of USBS (United States Burger Service). Kick your feet up and order another. The atmosphere's warm, and the beer's cold.
What began in 2012 as a pop-up bar has flourished and matured into one of the most popular spots in Miami Beach. This courtyard oasis, equipped with twinkling lights, table tennis, and mismatched patio furniture, offers a roster of cocktails ($12 and up) that change according to the season and available fresh ingredients. Curb your hunger with bites such as Korean chicken tenders and a Cuban sandwich ($14). The creation of Bar Lab's Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi, Broken Shaker has racked up several coveted honors, including Best American Hotel Bar at Tales of the Cocktail's Spirited Awards.
Between Cuban cantinero Julio Cabrera's daiquiris and chef Michelle Bernstein's fare, there's something uniquely Miami about Cafe la Trova. But as with all things Magic City, this new eatery isn't fueled solely by good food and drinks: At any given time of the day, expect guayabera-clad musicians or jazz trumpet players to fill the air with their vibrant tunes, all set against a stage backdropped with the weathered façade of an Old Havana building. Friday and Saturday, the restaurant opens its backroom, the 305 Bar — a flamingo-pink ode to the neon, disco, and debauchery that made Miami Beach one of the most notorious destinations in the '80s. Insider tip: Bernstein's comfort food is all-around tempting. She works to meet the foodie fantasies of her guests, whether they're in search of elaborate dishes or a traditional dessert of tres leches. When in doubt, order a round of specialty paella, jamón Serrano, and spinach and feta croquetas, or the chef's rendition of arroz con pollo — the classic one-pot Cuban-style dish she puts together with bomba rice and chicken marinated in saffron and beer.
A local institution, Churchill's Pub has hosted more live shows than just about any other venue in town. For more than 40 years, this dive bar has been a haven for the punk and alternative bands that played on its indoor and outdoor stages. Even as it hosted the likes of Marilyn Manson (or that random guy down the street who just wanted to play his music), this grungy drinking den has remained true to itself: Churchill’s has a well-earned reputation for welcoming musicians of all sorts to its stages. Cheap beer, loud music, and a classic bar-food menu are the hallmarks of a beloved dive bar, and Churchill’s offers them all.
If you want your burgers and beer served with a side of revelry, the Clevelander is your spot. There's no other place where you can splash in a pool, hang out with body-painted women, and drink $5 Jack Daniel's shots chased by $5 bottles of beer (during football games). Oh, yeah — football. There's that too. Watch the big game on a 20-foot LED screen or more than 40 other monitors throughout the property.
This speakeasy-inspired bar in Coral Gables looks to classic New Orleans watering holes for inspiration. When you walk through the nondescript door, you'll find a lounge area with red leather couches. The space opens to the main room, resplendent with a mahogany bar lined with leather-upholstered stools. Chandeliers and vintage lamps light the space, but the most eye-catching features are the two large walls cascading with devil's ivy that sandwich bookcases holding a curated array of select small-batch spirits not found anywhere else.
If you "know what it means to miss New Orleans," the Corner is the bar for you. This little speakeasy boasts a bar constructed from 150-year-old repurposed wood and a vibe that's more reminiscent of the Big Easy than the neon lights of Miami. Maybe that's why the Corner's cocktail collection contains so many New Orleans classics. Drinks such as the Vieux Carré and Sazerac are properly prepared, and the Corner's hurricane puts Pat O'Brien's in the French Quarter to shame. The fact that you can order a cocktail at the Corner till 5 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends doesn't hurt.
Given Miami's subtropical climate, you might think there would be more tiki-themed bars serving boat drinks festooned with fresh fruit and tiny umbrellas. Esotico is one of the few, but it's a grand place indeed. The 3,400-square-foot space is done up in hand-cut wallpaper, lush greenery, and Polynesian decor to create just the right tiki atmosphere. Guests can enjoy drinks created by Daniele Dalla Pola, a partner in parent company Graspa Group and a longtime tiki fan. Tiki cocktails are known the world over for their potent combination of spirits, spices, and fruits. The ones at Esotico are prepared with fresh-squeezed juices and house-made mixes and served in custom-designed tiki mugs. Collectors can take home a limited-edition mug such as the King Ta Moko — an Elvis-themed chalice that holds a blend of gin, passionfruit, fresh citrus, and ginger orgeat syrup.
At its entrance, this Wynwood institution boasts "air conditioning, cold beer, and cocktails." Indeed, those are the basics for a successful Miami bar, but Gramps goes the extra mile and then some — from a robust roster of live music, DJs, and drag bingo to some damn fine pizza and more. Ensconce yourself in the bar area or find a table on the patio. A little bit hipster hang, a little bit dive bar — Gramps is a welcome respite for the beer-and-a-shot crowd and the craft-cocktail maven alike.
f you seek a place where the booze is cheap and the patrons are salty drunks, look no further than this joint and package store on the 79th Street Causeway midway between the mainland and the Beach. Head there straight from work (assuming you have a job), order an Anchor Steam, and strike up a conversation with someone who can tell you what's really going on around here. Like the brilliant/crazy dude who has lined the walls with his weird straw sculptures. Or the ornery drunk who's about to get thrown out for refusing to pay his $30 tab because (he insists) his glass is dirty. Play a game of pool on the chalk-dusty table, or enjoy a saucy game of strip poker on the coin-op machine. Bonus: If you're looking to hide from your pretentious friends or Brady Bunch home life, this is probably the last place your usual posse would think of looking for you.
The cocktail bar, located in the X Miami building, is known for drinks by bartender Will Thompson, but chef/owner Carey Hynes is the one upping the bar-chow game. Instead of gorging yourself on high-fat fried foods, why not dip some fresh Parker House rolls into a ramekin of duck jus? You won't miss chicken wings when you have aged country ham to pair with your drink. But the most genius part of the menu at Jaguar Sun are the four pasta dishes, each satisfying and soulful. The campanelle with mussels and saffron works best with rum cocktails. And everything goes with the bucatini, tossed with Parmesan, Pecorino-Romano, and black pepper. Pasta as bar food? It's so obvious yet such a revelation you'll kick yourself for stuffing your face with onion rings and pub burgers all these years. Insider tip: Start your evening at Jaguar Sun's weekday happy hour. From 5 to 7 p.m., forget your work troubles with the $8 Perfect Manhattan or other select drinks while you scarf down $3 Jonah crab claws with Thai dipping sauce.
The Jim and Neesie, located inside the Generator Miami in Mid-Beach, is a chill yet upscale space designed to resemble the living room of a fictional, chic European couple (that'd be Jim and Neesie). Brick walls and dangling lanterns set the scene for the bar's unique bottle cocktails. Each one arrives at the table prepared and at a precise 28 degrees Fahrenheit. The bartender then pours each drink into a glass that contains one large ice cube. With a flourish, a garnish is added. A negroni supreme, the classic drink of Italy, is made with raspberry-and-pistachio-infused gin and finished with a spritz of lavender. But the standout is the OMFG margarita, prepared with a hint of fresh tangerine that adds a natural sweetness to the tart lime. The bottled cocktails ensure your drink is perfect — much like the lives of our fictional besties who opened their home to entertain us.
Beyond the Catskills-meets-Hialeah vibe of Stephen's Deli, owner Matt Kuscher has opened La Cocina, a 40-seat bar that's accessed through a corridor past the restrooms. The space is decorated in what can best be described as "Hialeah squared." Lotto tickets and La Caja China labels serve as wallpaper, and never have so many pieces of Hialeah memorabilia been assembled in one place. Did anyone ever know of (or actually own) a genuine Hialeah Racetrack board game, for instance? Cocktails at this kitschy tribute to "La Ciudad Que Progresa" include Miami-fied versions of classic drinks. The Moscow mule, for example, is transformed into El Burrito Sabanero — a mix of vodka, ginger beer, and passionfruit — and a Missionary's Downfall becomes a Pots and Pans when made with Club Caribe rum, pineapple, and mint.
This indoor/outdoor hodgepodge of a place is named for a small gift traditionally bestowed upon a customer by a merchant, and the moniker couldn't be more fitting. At this serve-yourself Midtown bar, you pick your craft beer, cheese, and wine, pay at the counter, and then plant yourself in a lawn chair beneath twinkling lights. Lagniappe offers live music every night — and sitting under the stars on a balmy night while listening to a band evokes an evening more New Orleans than Miami.
Dive bar aficionados will take note that Las Rosas is located in Allapattah, just a few blocks west of hip and trendy Wynwood. There's not much signage, but once you step inside, the large neon rose reassures you that you've come to the right place. The drink menu is straightforward, and the arcade games are set to free play. The Mexican-themed venue hosts up to ten local live music acts a week; Tuesday is the night for the Love Below dance party; and Wednesday is Wine & Words open-mike night.
Nearly every W Hotel is equipped with a Living Room bar, but the W South Beach's iteration is uniquely Miami. If you're looking for a scene where A-listers, sports figures, models, the rich, and tourists from Omaha can coexist in harmony, this is it. Here some of the best bartenders in South Florida serve drinks concocted by noted mixologist and author Scott Beattie; the drink menu includes creatively crafted libations that are meant to be sipped, not chugged. Money may not be universal, but the search for the perfect cocktail trumps all.
Some days you want to sip nitrogen cocktails with durian espuma amid pulsating beats and colored lights, and some days you simply want a good drink in a low-key, welcoming joint. Lost Boy returns sanity to drinking through its cool, no-nonsense vibe, brick walls, and tasteful decor. The drinks are solid classics often tweaked with tiny twists. (A penicillin benefits from the addition of orange-blossom honey, for example, while an espresso martini is made mellow with a dash of CBD oil.) Can't make up your mind? Order the My Idea! and your bartender will craft you a bespoke cocktail. Your wallet will enjoy a trip to Lost Boy during its daily happy hour: Drinks are half off from 4 to 8.
Step off Collins Avenue and into Lost Weekend and you might forget you're smack in the center of South Beach. Wednesday is ladies' night, which means women score six drink vouchers upon arrival to trade for beer or house spirits. For those who crave a little competition, bar games abound, including pool, air hockey, darts, and foosball. Pro tip: Pop into Kill Your Idol, Lost Weekend's sister bar next door — it's chock full of fascinating adornments, including an astronaut hanging from the ceiling and a life-size Bruce Lee statue sticking out of the back bar.
One of the oldest and few remaining dive bars in Miami Beach, Mac's Club Deuce is the neighborhood's definitive spot to drink, play the jukebox, and shoot some pool. Not much has changed inside this legendary establishment, which opened in 1964. Find a selection of craft and domestic beer ($5 to $6) and enough liquor to satisfy even the pickiest bar fly. From 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., all drinks are two-for-one. After that, the bar stays open another ten hours for cheap drinks and spontaneous misadventures. Anthony Bourdain, who was a frequent visitor, loved the Deuce's retro vibe. The dark bar is also a hangout for celebrities seeking refuge from paparazzi, so be chill if you spot an A-lister holding a PBR. Oh, and be sure to bring cash — the Deuce doesn't accept any other forms of payment.
Mama Tried is an homage to the 1970s, an era when carpeting and red velvet were considered the height of chic. This is a drinker's bar, and it's designed as such. The windows are heavily tinted. Spherical copper lamps hang above a wooden U-shaped bar flanked by green banquettes, and the only other piece of furniture in the room is a pool table. The daily happy hour at this downtown spot includes $7 classics such as a rum-based Dark and Stormy, a French 75, and a traditional three-ingredient (rum, lime, simple syrup) daiquiri. The regular cocktail list, offered alongside a curt selection of craft beers and wines, includes nearly a dozen heavily Miami-inspired drinks for $11 or $12 and deftly blends the city's saccharine kitsch with the serious sophistication one expects at a capital C capital B Cocktail Bar.
Gourmet sausage might not be the first thing on anyone’s mind when they enter a bar, but the meat product dominates the menu at the Mighty, an utterly unpretentious gastropub housed in a squat brick-red building on the edge of Miami's Shenandoah neighborhood. These are no run-of-the-mill sausages, either. Think duck, lamb, or chicken con queso sausage with queso fresco, jalapeño, or mango bits. The Mighty invites you to chase your sausage (or salad or sandwich or entrée or taco) with a list of $10 "Stiff Drinks," an array of beer-and-shot combos, and an impressive beer list.
For more than 30 years, Mike’s at Venetia has remained one of Miami's hidden gems. Locals in the know frequent this Irish dive bar, located on the ninth floor of Venetia Condo at the western terminus of the Venetian Causeway. Drinkers will find a welcoming bar with a seemingly never-ending list of beverage options and daily menu specials ranging from pizza to rib-eye to mussels and shrimp pasta. A dozen or so TV screens make this place amenable to viewing whatever sport is in season.
This South of Fifth watering hole in the Urbanica Meridian Hotel has quickly become a favorite among Beach locals and visitors looking for a laid-back vibe. True to its name, Minibar is a small hangout that invites conversation in the courtyard, a chat with your friendly bartender, or a quiet nightcap. Two favorite cocktails — South Beach Z Pack ($13) and Pucker Up ($13) — have been on the menu since day one. They're served in Minibar's signature tiny liquor bottles, just like the ones found in your hotel room.
You haven't lived in Miami until you've spent an afternoon sucking down Pain Removers while gazing at a cotton-candy sunset at Monty's. The Coconut Grove institution has seen a half-century of Miamians flock to the dockside restaurant for happy hour and tropical vistas. But no trip to Monty's is complete without a round of Pain Removers — the bar's version of the Painkiller, a tiki cocktail trademarked by Pusser's Rum Ltd. in the 1970s. Besides the name tweak, not much differentiates the Remover from the 'Killer. Both are made with island rum, pineapple juice, OJ, and coconut cream, and both can be prepared in "strengths" that vary the rum-to-juice ratio. Pair the sweet, strong cocktail with a dozen oysters and watch the boats come in.
This North Beach neighborhood sports bar is open 365 days a year till 5 a.m. On the Rocks offers inexpensive drinks, several TV screens, and Friday-night karaoke. The walls are just about as colorful as some of the characters you'll find bellied up to the bar. The place has all the makings of a classic dive, right down to the ingrained aroma of cigarettes and beer. Guests often find themselves jamming to rock 'n' roll covers by the local band Thrino, which takes the stage regularly.
Stop by the Palace for a very South Beach experience. The gay-friendly restaurant and bar, which has been going strong for more than three decades, stages drag shows every evening and drag brunches Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Otherwise, know that the venue contains two bars: one indoors and designed for nighttime use, the other semi-outdoors. There's also a patio with dining tables. The presence of drag queens ensures the service is extra-friendly. Call ahead if you're set on taking in the famed Sunday brunch drag show.
Inside the Gale Hotel on Collins Avenue lurks the Regent Cocktail Club, a nod to 1940s-era speakeasies amid the tourist crush of Miami Beach. This place has accomplished what every neo-bar in town has sought to do for the past five years: make the past hip again. The scene is set with dim lights, antiqued furniture, old-timey champagne glasses, and a comprehensive cocktail menu courtesy of the good folks at Bar Lab — which tells you that, like the environs, the drinks are classic affairs meant to be savored.
This beach-themed establishment might look like an ordinary bar from the outside, but step inside and you’re hit with the sort of mayhem you'd find at a frat house on game day — right down to the college kids and cheap beer. Sandbar's food offerings are solid, from the fish tacos to the five-pound burrito, and the drinks are in a category of their own. Try the hurricane, made with Captain Morgan spiced rum, Myers’s dark rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, and grenadine — and you’ll see why this Coconut Grove staple can weather any storm.
Steer toward the Scape Goat for some of the cheapest drinks in town. Here domestic bottles and tall-boy cans start at $5. Patrons who work in the service industry are treated to their own section of even cheaper drinks, including $3 Jameson shots and $3 beers all day. Whether you're looking for a few brews or tasty cocktails, the Scape Goat offers wallet-friendly libations no matter what time you visit.
During football season, find great deals on the Guy Fieri-approved bar food and drinks at this beloved neighborhood tavern, designed for socializing with locals and other friendly folks looking for a great time. Live entertainment on weekends brings guests to their feet, but if sounds from rock and alternative bands don’t do it, a game of pool will.
Boasting a beach-town vibe even though it’s miles from the ocean, Seven Seas exports a nautical vibe to the far-off land of Coral Terrace, west of Coral Gables. The bar is known for its karaoke nights, so those who love to belt out “Don’t Stop Believing” can get their fill every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night. Strut your chops or grab a seat at the bar and enjoy the entertainment. Seven Seas opens at 9 a.m. daily and welcomes anyone in need of a breakfast beer, hold the judgment.
The first thing you'll notice when you walk into Shuckers is the breathtaking view of Biscayne Bay. Next will be the myriad sporting events playing on the many flat-screen TVs. Just as your stomach begins to rumble, fill up on raw oysters, fresh fish, wings (six for $8), and a bacon cheeseburger made with 100 percent USDA Prime ground beef. Pregame during happy hour Monday through Friday from 5 to 7, when you'll find $11 Bud Light pitchers, $6 wells drinks, $3 drafts, $4 bottles, and $8 frozen concoctions.
When James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz visited Singapore, he fell for the country's hawker stalls and night markets. The experience led him to create Sling Bar, an Asian-inspired lounge that offers "culinary cocktails" — Singaporean-style libations meant to be strong and filling. The rum-based Curry Colada subs in passionfruit for a piña colada's pineapple and adds the sweet-tart liqueur velvet falernum and curry syrup to the traditional coconut cream and lime ($17). The floral SB Sling combines Bombay Sapphire East gin, Benedictine, orange curaçao, pineapple, lime, and cherry cordial ($16). Naturally, Schwartz has created a food menu to pair with the drinks; the fare is heavy on Southeast Asian spices such as chili, ginger, and basil.
In 2016, restaurateur David Martinez, Blackbird Ordinary's Dan Binkiewicz, and world-class bartender John Lermayer opened a Miami Beach bar meant to be a hangout where locals could gather for proper cocktails and a killer menu by chef Michelle Bernstein. This neighborhood joint — adorned with a pink neon sign that urges patrons to "pursue happiness" — quickly became one of the most revered bars in the world. Sweet Liberty has been named one of the World's 50 Best Bars and has won several Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. Even Lermayer's untimely death couldn't stop the plucky bar and restaurant from staying true to its mission to serve good drinks and good food in a lively and friendly atmosphere. Insider tip: Check out Miami drag sensation Karla Croqueta's Birdcage Brunch. Part drag show and part cabaret, the brunch is offered the second Sunday of each month, with shows at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
The management team behind the much-missed Employees Only Miami is behind this intimate space, which pays homage to the beloved spirit of the Caribbean: rum. To wit: Swizzle offers about 150 varieties of rum, meant for sipping or playing the starring role in cocktails. You'll find classics (such as a rum Manhattan) along with imaginative cocktails like the El Presidente, made with rum, pomegranate, molasses, and Angostura bitters. A small kitchen serves bar fare such as chicken wings and Cuban sandwiches.
Housed in one of Coconut Grove's most historic buildings, Taurus is a convivial watering hole that accepts everyone, including dogs. True to its name, the well-stocked bar offers a broad selection of beers, whiskeys, and other spirits, but the hidden gem here is the food menu. Taking advantage of the neighboring restaurant, Ariete, Taurus affords its patrons the luxury of chowing down on Michael Beltran's Chug burger, along with Justin Flit's Proof pizzas (available Wednesday through Sunday).
True to its name, Ted's Hideaway is tucked away in Miami Beach's South of Fifth neighborhood, where the bar offers succor to those in search of a dark place to escape the Beach's glitz and glamour and the searing South Florida sun. During its daily happy hour — from noon to 8! — Ted's offers $3.75 domestic beers, $5 imported beers, and house cocktails for no more than $6. It’s a great place to watch a televised sporting event, shoot pool, or make a new bar buddy.
Located on famed Calle Ocho, Union Beer store is your best SW Eighth Street bet for local brews and rare beers alike. But this isn't merely a beer bar and neighborhood taproom that offers 18 unique brews on draft served along with a variety of eats. It's also a beer market, where refrigerated cases hold a rotating selection of whales — that's beerspeak for hard-to-find and limited-release bottles and cans. And it's a growler bar, where they'll happily fill your to-go jug with your choice from the tap so you can partake of your Union Beer Store bounty wherever your craft-beer-loving self desires.
Long before Wynwood morphed into a psychedelic version of Disney World, there was Wood Tavern. This no-frills beer hall is hip, cheap, and casual. Wood has expertly tapped into a clientele of artists, creatives, musicians, bartenders, and their groupies by supplying a casual atmosphere that perfectly suits its laid-back-and-local ethos. From 30-percent-off drink specials to DJs and live performances, the Wood is a destination watering hole that somehow remains authentic in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood that's constantly under threat of death by cliché.