Best of Miami

Best of Miami 2018: The Best Bars and Breweries

Unwind with a handcrafted cocktail at the Broken Shaker.
Unwind with a handcrafted cocktail at the Broken Shaker. Photo by Karli Evans
New Times' annual Best of Miami issue is live. For hundreds of our staff's picks on the finest places to eat and drink and the most notable people and personalities who defined South Florida over the past year, check out the full issue. Here's a rundown of this year's best bars and breweries.
Courtesy of Black Market
Best Bar, Central: Black Market Miami. Sports bars are plentiful around suburban Miami-Dade, but they're hard to come by in downtown. Sure, some central-city establishments occasionally broadcast games, but the atmosphere often lacks the je ne sais quoi of that at a local sports bar. Considering that point along with exorbitant drink prices, and you might as well have gone to a nightclub and ordered bottle service. Black Market Miami is different. It delivers a polished, sports-focused vibe but leaves the crazy drink prices for the club. The bar offers 13 beers on draft, 16 in bottles, and six in cans, averaging $6 to $8, while cocktails, including Moscow mules and caipirinhas, run about $10 to $15. Hungry? The food menu lists all the sports-bar staples. Twelve wings cost $13.50, and the cheeseburger made with grass-fed beef patty is $14. And because 30 4K TV screens are spread throughout the 5,000-square-foot space, there isn't a bad seat in the house. Don't worry if it isn't game day — Black Market stays open daily until 2 a.m. 168 SW First St., Miami; 305-400-8023;

Best Bar, Miami Beach: The Scape Goat. Here's the scenario: You stumble upon a door and enter. Inside, you find a room with black walls. On the counter sits a display: ice picks, blow torches, and other tools. You might think you've walked onto the set of a Hostel movie, except for the friendly faces at the bar. These people don't want to torture you. They want to fix you a drink. The Scape Goat is like any neighborhood bar — if that neighborhood bar served an old-fashioned made with cedar plank smoke ($14). Of course, if you just want a beer and a shot, you can get that too; here, it's called a Happy Meal, so request the secret menu. On a budget? Check out the daily happy hour from 5 to 8 p.m., where select beers cost $4 and house cocktails run $8. Oh, and the Scape Goat has a policy of serving American-made spirits and beers, so you can drink like a patriot. Call it the SoBe version of MAGA. Hours are 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. 100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-275-648;

Best Bar, North: The Point Lounge. The Point Lounge has something in common with your friend's mom's three-alarm chili or hot wings. Yeah, every local knows and loves the place, but — holy hell — experiencing it will hurt later. Point Lounge is a proper dive bar: The booze is cheap, and the ambiance is free. It's one of the few places left in Miami-Dade where patrons can actually smoke indoors, and, man, do they take advantage of that fact. The Point has TVs, a jukebox, friendly bartenders with a rough charm, and the option of chatting it up or remaining invisible. It also boasts a ridiculous happy hour when you can buy two and get the third free from 2 to 7 Monday through Friday. Warning: Point Lounge is also a late-night bar that closes at the ass-crack of dawn. This is not a place to take selfies or artsy photos of cocktails. Point Lounge is for drinking, laughing, relaxing, and maybe making a hilarious mistake you can brag about to your bar buddies on your next visit. 2202 NE 123rd St., North Miami; 305-893-4471.

Best Bar, South: City Hall Martini Bar. If you like a good story with your cocktail, just ask your bartender at City Hall Martini Bar about the permanent residents of Hotel Redland. You see, the original version of this vintage inn, known as the oldest building in Homestead, burned down in 1913, killing several guests in their sleep. Some say they still haunt the place — along with a few feline apparitions. The bartenders at the martini bar are more than happy to tell tales of what they've seen, and the stories get better as you consume more drinks. That's easy to do, because the bar's prices are far more reasonable than those Miamians are used to paying. Martinis and other cocktails cost about ten bucks and include retro favorites such as the Woo Woo (vodka, cranberry, and peach schnapps) and the Flamingo (rum and pineapple). The drinks are cheap, and the campfire stories are free, making City Hall the most interesting drinking experience you'll have in Miami-Dade. Hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Sunday and 3 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 5 S. Flagler Ave., Homestead; 305-246-1904;

Best Bar, West: Doral Billards and Sports Bar. Sometimes you're in the mood for a cocktail made in 20 minutes by a gregarious bartender. Other times you just want a beer and a shot with friends. Doral Billiards is the latter. The sports bar and lounge, going strong since 2006, has a good beer selection, 19 Brunswick pool tables, and a bar-food menu that's a blend of all-American favorites such as chicken wings (ten for $11.50) and rib tips (five for $11). There are also Latin American offerings like grilled churrasco ($14.95) and picadillo ($11). Wash them down with a traditional Moscow mule for about half the price of what you would pay on the Beach, because most cocktails here cost less than ten bucks. It's a win-win without having to schlep on the Dolphin Expressway. 7800 NW 25th St., Doral; 305-592-8486;

Best Bartender: Courtney Lane. Her given name may be Courtney, but like many badasses — Madonna, Cher, Beyoncé — this 26-year-old bartender is simply known as Lane. Starting out, as most drink slingers do, Lane did her share of working at dance clubs and socials in Gainesville, where she opened cans of Bud Light and poured rum and Cokes made with cheap well liquor. The petite blonde decided there's more to life behind the stick, and from there it's been accolade after accolade. In 2015, Lane got her big break working the artist and media bar at III Points. From there, it's been an uphill trajectory, with Lane working at what are arguably Miami Beach's finest cocktail bars — Employees Only and Broken Shaker. At the bar, she's a whirling dervish of shaking, mixing, and pouring. Recently, she and her Employees Only partner won top prize at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Art of Tiki competition for a drink they created. Lane is someone whom young girls should strive to be and everyone wants to know — a talented, driven woman who will fix you the best cocktail of your life.1030 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 786-264-3945;
Courtesy of Biscayne Bay Brewing
Best Beer: Biscayne Bay Brewing. Sure, it's fun to experiment with beers that taste like candy bars and gummy bears. But when you want a no-frills, locally made beer that's just damn good, go to Biscayne Bay Brewing. The brewery opened about three years ago in Doral, so why the name Biscayne Bay? Well, the beers are made with water from the Biscayne Aquifer. That's Miami AF, dude. Brewmaster Chris Gil's approach to beer is classic. That means when you pour one of the brewery's core beers — whether it be a saison, a pale ale, an IPA, a kolsch, or a porter — you'll get a fresh beer that tastes like beer and not a glass of liquefied Lucky Charms. Even the limited-edition and experimental beers aren't gimmicky; think a good ale aged in a whiskey barrel. Hang out at the brewery, where a pint costs about five bucks (or $2.50 from 3 to 7 p.m. daily), but you don't even have to drive out to Doral. Biscayne Bay's beers are sold at most Whole Foods, Publix, and Total Wine locations. The brewery's hours are noon to 10 p.m. Sunday, 3 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. 8000 NW 25th St., Doral; 305-381-5718;

Best Brewery: Wynwood Brewing Co. Miami's beer game is strong, with breweries popping up in unexpected places such as Opa-locka and the Upper Eastside, but let's not forget Miami's OG brewery — Wynwood Brewing. Because it was the first production brewery in the city of Miami, the father-and-son team of Luis and Luis Brignoni had to actually help write local laws. When it opened, the brewers strove to integrate themselves into Wynwood's artistic community. Indeed, that's happened, with the brewery hosting art shows and fashioning its tap handles to look like spray-paint cans. But what also happened is that the brewery was the catalyst that turned Wynwood into the heart of Miami's beer scene. Now the neighborhood boasts four breweries, with more on the way, and restaurants and bars in the area proudly serve craft beer made just a short walk away. Tourists and day-trippers from points north and west come to Wynwood for a beer crawl as much as for its famous murals. You could say beer imitates art, but, more accurately, beer is art. Wynwood Brewing is open from noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday and noon to midnight Wednesday through Saturday. 565 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-982-8732;
Courtesy of the Freehand
Best Cocktails: Broken Shaker. Once upon a time, two men named Gabe Ora and Elad Zvi decided to open a pop-up bar at a Miami Beach hostel. This was way back when dinosaurs walked the Earth, pop-ups were rare, and a well-made cocktail on the Beach was even rarer. That didn't stop these intrepid heroes, who made crafted drinks using freshly grown herbs, premium spirits, and house-made bitters. Pretty soon, Miami Beach imbibers learned there was a world beyond vodka Red Bulls and frozen piña coladas made with grain alcohol. The local cocktail movement grew, and quality bars opened. Meanwhile, the little pop-up, which was named the Broken Shaker, became a permanent fixture at the Freehand on Indian Creek Drive. It began winning national and international awards, and celebrities were seen hanging out and drinking its delicious creations. The little bar expanded to Los Angeles and Chicago, and there are plans to open soon in New York City. Despite its popularity and accolades from across the nation, the bar remains a fun place to chill. Though success and fame haven't gone to its founder's heads, a few cocktails ($12 to $13) just might. 2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach; 305-531-2727;

Best Happy Hour: Rusty Pelican. Here's a reason to visit the Rusty Pelican for something other than Mother's Day and your birthday: happy hour. Every Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., the lounge at the Pelican offers some of the top deals in Miami with arguably the most striking view in South Florida. Grab a seat at an outdoor table near the flaming fire pit. Sip $6 beers; $7 well drinks such as martinis, mojitos, and margaritas; and $6 house wines. Chow down on small bites such as corvina ceviche ($8) and Serrano ham croquettes ($10). After all these years, it's fair to say the Pelican's swank atmosphere remains a culinary example and a Miami landmark. 3201 Rickenbacker Cswy., Key Biscayne; 305-361-3818;
click to enlarge Pinkies up, Wynwood. - COURTESY OF RÁCKET.
Pinkies up, Wynwood.
Courtesy of rácket.
Best New Bar: Rácket. After spending the day in the hot Wynwood sun posing for selfies with Trump, Yoda, and all the other wall paintings, you need shelter and a drink. Enter Rácket, two bars in one, where your thirst can be sated depending upon your mood. Feeling a little tiki? The atrium room has you covered with rum-and-tequila-based drinks such as the Pinky and the Bat, made with Bacardi Superior, St-Germain, guava, strawberry, and pink pepper. If your spirits are soaring, the sky-lit room offers a place where you can drink under the stars. Gin and vodka cocktails take center stage in this area. Try the Divine Oddities, a bubbly concoction made with Hendrick's gin, rose hips, and a hint of cayenne to tingle your lips. Cocktails cost about $14 each. Best of all: Rácket opens daily at 1 p.m., so you can day-drink whenever you want. Hours are 1 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily. 150 NW 24th St., Miami; 786-637-2987;

Best Sports Bar: Duffy's Sports Grill. Yeah, yeah, Duffy's Sports Grill is a chain, but, hey, this is Florida's chain! And Duffy's in North Miami Beach is something special. Not only is this 25,000-square-foot restaurant and bar massive, but also the huge covered deck overlooking the water is simply stunning. Let's talk sports. Duffy's has every major sports package and about 150 flat-screens. It's almost impossible not to get a seat with your own TV to watch whatever sporting event you desire. Let's talk booze. Duffy's offers one of the greatest drink specials available: Buy one, get one free for almost every beer and mixed drink. This deal isn't just for happy hour. It's all day every day. That's right: BOGO booze as soon as you step in the door. Last but not least, let's talk food. Essentials at every sports bar are the chicken wings, and Duffy's does not disappoint. Its best wings are breaded with a signature firecracker sauce ($12.99). They're crisp on the outside and moist and tender on the inside and come tossed in that spicy yet slightly sweet firecracker sauce. This place caters to almost every palate. There's even a gluten-sensitive menu. Stop by Duffy's in North Miami Beach for a wonderful sporting experience — whether you sit inside or out, you'll leave with a smile on your face, especially if your team wins. Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Multiple locations.

Best Wine Bar: Abaco Wines. It's fitting to find a place like Abaco in the Design District. Part retail store and part tasting room, this swank, high-tech wine bar carries thousands of sparkling bottles, from well-known vintages to more experimental up-and-comers. Search through Abaco's stock using in-house iPads, which provide information about each varietal. The shop is equipped with a beer and wine license, allowing for intimate winetastings, classes, and events with local restaurants. Among the most popular of these events is one with famed sweets maker the Salty Donut, which offers evening dessert tastings paired with red, white, and rosé wines. Abaco is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. 140 NE 39th St., Miami; 786-409-5286;

Next Thursday, June 21, X Miami will host New Times' Best of Miami party, where you can enjoy bites from more than a dozen of the area's best restaurants while sipping unlimited cocktails and jamming to live music. Purchase tickets for $50 in advance, or pay $60 at the door. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit Miami Lighthouse for the Blind.

New Times' Best of Miami Party. 8 to 11 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at X Miami, 230 NE Fourth St., Miami. Tickets cost $50 via 305-571-7579 or or $60 at the door.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss