The happy hour scene at Smith & Wollensky is certainly South Beach's most popular spot for sunset cocktails and mingling. Not only is the waterfront patio and bar a rarity in town, but also the views of the departing cruise ships are breathtaking. It's like watching a floating city pass by. Another reason so many tipplers make the restaurant their first Friday-night stop is that the bartenders are generous pourers, which in turn leads to generous tipping by inebriated patrons. It's a win-win situation.
At Smith & Wollensky, any time of day is happy hour for this alcohol-soaked crowd. However, the carousing really amps up at 5 p.m. Fridays. Both the patio and main bars are elbow-to-elbow with a nice-looking clientele hoping to get soused after a long workweek. The secret to a successful Smith's happy hour is to skip out of work before 5 (that is, if you even have a real job) and snag several barstools on the west side of the bar. Ignore the dirty looks of fellow patrons until your entourage arrives.
Another trick to navigating happy hour (or in order to stave off a killer hangover Saturday mornings) is to eat a few bar snacks. Smith & Wollensky's tasty treats include mini-burgers, beer-battered shrimp, fried calamari, and several flatbreads (go for the one with vine-ripened tomato and mozzarella).
Clearly, there are other happy hour watering holes in Miami. The bars in Mary Brickell Village, for instance, teem with young professionals Friday nights. When I moved to South Beach in 1993, Monty's was the only show in town for happy hour. Monty's still does a prolific business, although mainly for the crowd that prefers its beer in pitchers and plastic cups.
However, revelers who desire stiff drinks poured into real glasses can be found a few blocks away at Smith & Wollensky. And that's where you'll find me every Friday at 4:45 p.m., zealously guarding stools until my friends trickle in for cocktails, gossip, and calamari.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.