Bartender Kip Byrne believed Matador Bar at the Miami Beach Edition needed a bit of a revamp, so he devised and recently unveiled a new cocktail menu inspired by something many locals and visitors know and love: the culture and flavor of Miami.
The new menu, which debuted August 8, is an ode to Miami's lifestyle. Nightclubs, beaches, and Cuban coffee might come to mind, but those aren't even close. Instead, influences include the Rat Pack the city's small contingent of French expats. Those two ideas inspired the drinks the Chairman of the Board and the French 305, respectively.
Then there's the Ms. Clair Voyant, a clarified milk punch cocktail inspired by Miami Beach's fortunetellers. The milk punch portion is made through a slow process of mixing milk with citrus and then straining the remaining liquid after it curdles through a slow drip process.
Describing the menu as "playful," Byrne doesn't draw inspiration from cocktail books but rather cookbooks and years of working as a chef. "A painter applies paint to a canvas," he says. "I apply ingredients to a glass."
The cocktails caught the attention of the renowned mixologist, author, and bartender Jim Meehan, who made an appearance at Matador Bar when the menu launched, Byrne says.
His creation is just part of his overall vision to revive the bar and bring the "lost" art of hospitality back to Miami. What's really important to Byrne, in addition to fine cocktails, is the guest experience.
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"We relied on the last 20 years of nightclub culture, and with that comes a lack of hospitality," he says. "That's close to my heart because I truly do care."
Byrne tapped into his decades of experience in the industry, which includes four years as a cook in the Air Force and 13 years as a bar and restaurant owner in Tampa, to guide his efforts.
"I'm not a pay-to-play guy," he says. "I'm not in it to be onstage and get all sorts of awards. I can make you the best drink, but you're going to remember the experience."
Matador Bar at Miami Beach Edition. 2901 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-257-4500; editionhotels.com/miami-beach.