Cocktails & Spirits

Better Days in Brickell: '70s Playboy Mags and Ouija

Last week, Better Days had its grand opening. We stopped by to scope out Brickell's first pop-up bar concept but didn't last two minutes after walking inside and noticing the A/C was broken. The good news: There were more people than we cared to count.

Round two proved much more successful, cold even -- a good thing for Miami's sultry summer. The bar, somewhat disguised as a vintage shop, wasn't nearly as full, which we liked. Though there's nothing speakeasy about it, it does exude a certain level of coolness.

See also: Celebrate Better Days at Pop-Up Bar's Grand Opening Tomorrow: Gratis Modelos and Palomas

You might find many similarities to Radio Bar in SoFi -- a gratis pool table is up for grabs, and popcorn graces every table. There is also a giant Jenga set outside and an overall tropical, chilled-out vibe.

"A couple of people mentioned that it's a knockoff of Radio," says Better Days' owner, Challo Schott. "But those particular things were done before it was called Radio and when it was still called Jeronimo."

Schott was general manager at Radio and says he came up with the concepts that he's now taken to Better Days -- the pool table, the popcorn, the hot dogs, and the drinks. (The current owners of Radio say Schott was a manager who was let go. Bars in Miami -- gotta love 'em.)

Moving past origins and onto drinks, prices aren't too bad -- $8 or $10 for cocktails, and beers start at just four bucks for PBR and Tecate. Other brews include Stella and Modelo Especial on tap, Fat Tire and Miami Shark in cans, and Harpoon UFO and Chimay White in bottles.

As for the cocktails, the Modelo Especial gets put to good use. The Michael Oughta Know Better, an extra-spiced concoction with Clamato juice and a salted rim, is refreshingly delicious. The Fizz Shizz mixes Grey Goose, simple syrup, fresh lime, and pineapple soda.

The music is a mix of old and new. And in case you want to be visually entertained, go for the best seat in the house -- a corner nook with two couches and a TV set playing old movies and documentaries.

You might notice that under the old-school box TV set (queue up the Back to the Future dinner scene) sits a Ouija board. I don't particularly like to mess with spirits, but if that's your thing and you want to test the waters of the nonphysical world, there's no better place than a bar.

If reading articles and peeping nude babes is more up your alley, issues of Playboy from the '70s and '80s lay on every table. Don't let female patrons catch you drooling if you're here to get lucky. And no, the magazines aren't for sale.

However, the shirts hanging by the DJ booth are available for purchase. Schott says no one has bought anything yet, but the prices of some items, such as lamps and decorative pieces, are negotiable.

And the tabletops are chalkboards. So feel free to get creative.

After returning to Better Days on a better day, it turns out this place is pretty cool, despite a few obnoxious folks with no volume control. But, hey, that's Brickell.

So if you've had a bad day and find yourself around Brickell, swing by Better Days. It's open from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. And get your nightcap without having to drive to the Beach. Industry folks from Zuma are doing it.

Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha

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Carla Torres found her inner gourmand voice while writing for Miami New Times in 2012. She has also worked with Travel & Leisure and Ocean Drive. She balances passions for wine, sweets, yoga, and kayaking.