When the AC Hotel opened in June 2015, it gave Miami Beach a swank, affordable cocktail lounge. Now the bar, which remained unnamed for about a year and a half, has officially opened as Gin + Collins.
It's located in the same space as the hotel's earlier cocktail lounge, where Jennifer Massolo, founder of the Liquid Projects and the Craft Spirits & Beer Festival, created and curated its original beverage program.
Nikos Mantzaridis, who spent time at Beaker & Gray, now helms Gin + Collins, which features a revamped food and cocktail lineup as well as an updated interior and exterior design.
"We want to be the local’s go-to cocktail lounge," Mantzaridis says. "Right across the bridge we have a whole community that is looking for an intimate spot where they can enjoy craft cocktails. Gin + Collins is that place. We’re posh, comfortable, and make a hell of a drink. Plus we have a pool table for those looking to show off their inner Paul Newman."
Here, the gin and tonic takes center stage. Boasting six combinations of gin, tonic, and garnishes, the bar offers a variety of ways to sip the traditional Spanish drink, known simply as a gin tonic.
"The hotel has Spanish roots, but we’ve added local flavor and a Miami Beach flair with our drinks," he says. "We’ve even got MIA Brewing on tap here and food. And we’re a bit of a hideaway for those who want to hop across the bridge from Flamingo Drive."
Cocktail highlights ($11 to $12) include the AC tonic, a sweet, fruity tonic created for the AC Hotels brand; the Vilanova, featuring Spanish gin with a citrus aftertaste; and the gin tonic, which pairs Hendrick’s Gin and Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic made with flowers, fruits, and herbs. Other craft cocktails include Raise the Sails, a rum and ginger mix; Smoked Last Word, a smoky mezcal; and the Southern Station, a South American spin on a vodka sunrise.
For newcomers, the bar suggests the ACGT, which plays off of the AC Hotels’ Spanish heritage and its love for a good gin tonic. "The ACGT uses its own exclusive tonic created for us via a partnership with Bombay Sapphire," Mantzaridis says. "I would also recommend the Raise the Sails, a fun twist on a classic Miami Beach cocktail."
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Pair a drink with a handful of sharable Mexican- and Caribbean-inspired plates, including tacos with roast pork, shredded brisket, or fried avocado; tostones with garlic cream sauce; chicken tinga tostada, made with shredded chicken in a spicy sauce; and mini cubanos with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, and Creole mustard.
"You have to pair the chicken tinga tostada with the Smoked Last Word," he says. "The spiciness of the dish and the sweet and smoky mezcal cocktail really complement each other. Before you know it, you’ll be asking for another round."
Gin + Collins is open Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight.