Lure Fishbar, at the St. Moritz at the Loews Hotel Miami Beach, has just opened after about a year's worth of anticipation.
The décor is more Bar Harbor than Bal Harbour -- teak woods are accented with blue plaid and brass shined to a mirror finish. Black-and-white photos of the Queen Mary grace the walls leading to the dining room. An outdoor bar -- again, more teak than tiki -- should be open in time for Art Basel and will serve a casual menu, along with drinks (although diners can choose to order from the full menu as well).
Lure Fishbar's menu features a veritable bounty from the sea, but we were most interested in the specialty cocktails, created by Robert Ferrara. Each cocktail features a nautical-themed name like the Full Mast or the Catch and Release, but they're not all rum-and-fruit concoctions. Ferrara has created a full-spectrum cocktail list ranging from pink creations perfect for après beach to a boozy take on the Arnold Palmer.
The mixologist who was named Miami New Times' Best Bartender 2013, says he has no set format for creating a cocktail. "Sometimes I'll say to myself, I need more rum drinks on the menu, so I'll try to work with that spirit, or maybe I'll have another inspiration, like a tea that I want to work with. Or I'll just be watching football and an idea will come to me that I have to try."
Asked how far a drink must deviate from a standard recipe to be considered new, Ferrara says, "Some people just change out one ingredient and call it something different. But if you substitute, say, a different garnish or bitter in a Manhattan, it's still pretty much a Manhattan. I think you have to have at least two very unique ingredients to call a cocktail your own."
All specialty cocktails cost $14 (except for the Lure bloody mary, which is $16). There's also a large wine and sake selection by the glass, as well as local draft beers from Funky Buddha, Wynwood, and Cigar City ($8 each). In addition, regular mixed drinks start at $9 -- a bargain by South Beach standards.
Short Order was invited to try a few of Lure's nautical-inspired cocktails and wound up sampling the entire dozen. Here are our favorites:
The Oceanfront, made with Olmeca Altos Plata tequila, fresh pineapple, cilantro, lime, Chesapeake Bay bitters, Cel Ray soda, and cracked black pepper.
The Articles of War, made with Beefeater 24, Mandarine Napoleon, lemon, chamomile tea, apple cider, and fennel bitters, then topped with Cigar City's Hotter Than Helles lager.
The Catch and Release is made with Absolut, Dolin Blanc, fresh-pressed watermelon juice, lime, orange bitters, and watermelon radish.
"Boozier" than Arnold Palmer, the John Daly is made with Spring 44 honey vodka, Earl Grey tea, fresh-pressed lemon juice, then topped with tea foam.
All the bartenders at Lure Fishbar might not know all the words to the song (ask them to attempt to sing the classic tune), but they do know how to create an Under the Boardwalk, made with Kappa pisco, Plymouth sloe gin, basil, blackberries, and lemon.
The Midshipmen, made with Bacardi eight-year, Batavia arrack, spiced banana, mole bitters, and burnt orange zest.
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Is it a meal? Is it a cocktail? Yes and yes. The Lure bloody mary ($16) comes with a jumbo shrimp, a filthy pickle, a deviled egg, and an oyster shooter. Brunch is served.
Lure Fishbar opens for dinner and cocktails at 6 o'clock nightly.