There was a time in Miami when scaffolds were scarce and only a small cluster of buildings composed the skyline along Brickell Avenue. Here a speck of affluence glimmered on the mainland, before gentrification spread like wildfire down Biscayne Boulevard. Novecento (1414 Brickell Ave., Miami; 305-403-0900), one of the only bars directly on Brickell, offers a glimpse of what might one day be on every corner of the corridor.
On a recent Saturday night, the bar itself seemed contrived from a commercial, featuring attractive, moneyed, middle-age patrons. A handsome man in a button-down shirt ordered a "double shot of Stoli in a short glass, with a splash of tonic, three ice cubes, and a twist of lime." The bartender, who had only tall glasses, prepared the drink nervously.
On one wall, a flat-screen TV set played looping video of virtual tours of high-end condo developments. Sitting behind his Mac, a DJ played ethereal electronic pop songs and random ditties like the Rolling Stones' "Miss You." Large wine racks separated the dimly lit establishment into two distinct areas, with the back serving as more of a restaurant and the anterior room doling out drinks.
Later in the evening, the place got packed, but the massive bar in the center of the front lounge was well suited to accommodate the horde of thirsty yuppies. Dreams of stiff starlight socializing were realized in the outdoor garden, where red banquettes and groomed hedges set the urbane vibe.
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As midnight neared, a blond strode into the bar and swooshed her mane like a galloping mare. Like dominoes, women everywhere in the bar began swooshing their ironed locks, sending mating signals to the opposite sex. This could mean only one thing: It was nearing party time. In an empty section of the bar, a man in a washed-out yellow shirt sat alone, unimpressed by all the swooshing. He shifted positions, first crossing his arms and then placing his fingers in an L sign next to his nose, silently screaming out of boredom and frustration.